A local inventor brings simple fun back to the game industry
Photos and article by Maria Massaro
Though a commercial real estate broker by trade, Fauquier County resident Curtis Paul honors his artistic side every day. Whether his outlet is writing, playing the drums, or thinking of inventive ways to educate and inspire youth, Paul is compelled to share his many talents and motivate others in fun and imaginative ways. “I’ve always been involved in so many different things: photography, videography, music, building models,” he reveals. “I find enjoyment in anything to do with the creative process.”
This penchant for imagination and ingenuity has ignited Paul’s latest creation, Scratch Golf, a game of skill in which players strategically shoot (or “scratch”) a pen or pencil toward the hole on a variety of illustrated golf courses which are perfectly proportionate to real golf courses. Though simple in its concept, this game requires focus and a certain technique to navigate each of the 18 holes, which include various obstacles such as water, trees, rocks, sand traps, and even alligators. “You don’t have to be a golfer to play,” assures Paul, who added detailed instructions and helpful tips to the Scratch Golf handbook, as well as a practice driving range and putting green.
Inspired by a visit to a college bookstore, Paul realized he could invent something more engaging than the standard retail board game, something that was both enjoyable and challenging for young and old alike. “I was looking for that elusive product that could be played by anyone, anytime, anywhere, alone, or with other people,” he emphasizes. In January, Paul started developing Scratch Golf and sketching all the graphics, which were converted into a striking prototype of the game by Allen Wayne Design Studio in Vint Hill.
“This is a retro, getting-back-to basics game,” continues Paul, who effectively materialized his passion for tactile activities that prompt participants to think, interact, and hone their motor skills. And product testing has confirmed that many people share Paul’s affinity for simple and manual fun: “I have been getting amazing feedback—from children, teens, and adults. When I show people [this game], their reaction is ‘Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this. This is so much fun to play. Where can I get this?’”
As a contributing writer to Toy Shop Magazine and the founder of Curtlin Toys and Games, Paul has learned through research and experience how to develop products that have mass appeal. In 2009, he designed his first game, Xtreme Takeover: Battle of the Xiacons. The ensuing learning curve would help him produce KATATU, his most celebrated game yet. A clever and animated combination of Tic-Tac-Toe and Nine Men’s Morris, this game won seven awards, including two education awards and the Creative Toy Awards Game of the Year in 2012.
Now in the final phase of development, Scratch Golf will be launched on Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms in August. It will then be sold online and in stores for about 12 dollars. Already thinking ahead, Paul plans to extend his concept to activity books for children and other sports such as Scratch Baseball. “This is just the first of what we hope will be many concept-type games, but the golf platform works really well for this idea, and that’s why we launched it first,” he explains. Mindful of golf’s universal appeal, Paul also envisions a Scratch Golf edition that features world-renowned courses, allowing everyone the opportunity to vicariously play famous fairways such as Augusta or Pebble Beach.
Though occupied with this new venture, Paul still manages to balance his life with other interests and aspirations. Since 2015, he has been a percussion teacher at the Allegro Community School of the Arts in Warrenton, and is currently organizing a “Rock Camp” for young, aspiring musicians to demonstrate their playing skills and connect with fellow instrumentalists.
A natural mentor, motivator, and philosopher, Paul has found multiple ways to channel his creativity and has subsequently inspired others to heed their passion and share their unique talent: “I think the creative process is so vital to our experience here [on Earth] and to the human condition. A lot of people become stagnant and just don’t follow their vision. I believe life should be enjoyed and not endured, and so we should embrace the creative process—whether it’s music, dance, or inventing a game. My calling was to put out really cool products that make life more enjoyable. I literally create something in my mind, seeing it all the way to the final product. I see it on the shelf, and I see people buying it. And if you believe in that [end result], that’s what will happen. So don’t just create halfway; finish the vision.”
Should that vision involve the game industry, you can contact Curtis Paul at via his website at curtlintoysandgames.com for information on joining his growing company and bringing new concepts to market. And to learn more about Scratch Golf, “the game of inches,” please visit the website, or go to YouTube for a video demonstration.