For two dear friends, Yvonne Killgo and Nancy Parker, life has been fun and games for seven years . . . literally. The pair had discussed designing a game of sorts for a number of years. With the determination to create an exciting, innovative and fun-filled family game channeled from personal experiences at both home and in classroom settings with children, Park or Go was born.
“It just all came together,” said Killgo. “We worked together so beautifully.”
In September of 2005, Killgo and Parker formed a Limited Liability Company (LLC) called PAR-GO, “PAR” from Parker and “GO” from Killgo. By this time, the direction of the game was clear and the ladies began early stages of “foundational construction.”
With just a single piece of poster board, tagged spots of sticky notes and pencil outlines, Park or Go was beginning to emerge. The next draft of the game was drawn on the back of a piece of Christmas wrapping paper that Killgo found at her house. It was the only piece of paper she could find that was big enough for her to clearly translate her ideas.
“We worked back and forth between her house and my house,” said Parker.
By this time, the duo began to have more technological pursuits and explored the world wide web for public domain pictures and information. Soon, game cards to accompany their steadily emerging prototype were developed.
The next prototype was done on a piece of freezer wrapping paper. Shapes were better defined, measurements were more precise and enough of a model had emerged for a field-test and for research to be done to determine if the game had merit for a utility patent.
On Aug. 17, 2006, the ladies filed for a utility patent and began the long and arduous wait for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to process and approve their application.
“It is a little time consuming,” said Killgo. “It takes a lot of dedication.”
The USPTO is a bureau in the Department of Commerce and is located in Alexandria, Va. They are responsible for the protection of intellectual property, which is any idea that can be patented, trademarked or copyrighted. A utility patent protects the way an article is used and works.
In 2011, 247,728 patents were granted out of 504,089 that had been filed. When Parker and Killgo filed in 2006, they were only one among 440,000.
The right of an inventor to profit from his invention was first recognized by law on April 10, 1790, when George Washington signed the first patent bill.
Nearly 222 years after the first issued patent and six years after their initial patent filing, Parker and Killgo, professionally known as PAR-GO, LLC., were finally granted their formal copy of U.S. Patent No. 8,172,230 for a “Board Game Playing System and Method of Incorporating City Landmarks” on May, 21 2012.
Park or Go is recognized as a single game with two applications: Park or Go In A Town You Know and Park or Go In A Town You Imagine.
“It’s fun for ages 4 through 80,” said Killgo jokingly.
In A Town You Know, all the aspects of the game’s town is pre-set such as building names and building designs.
In A Town You Imagine, players change the names of the buildings and can even change the design by switching roofs or doors which are fastened to the board with Velcro.
In play, each player picks a car and begins at their designated start box on the board that correlates with their car’s color. The objective is to make it to all locations on the board and collect all the tokens before being the first to reach the city hall. Players are moved depending on their dice roll. They advance or park when landing on a color. Green is a GO card which has a rhyme that sends you to a point of interest in town to collect a token. Orange is a PARK card which parks you in your spot and asks an educational question such as, what do you do when an ambulance is behind you? The question of course is move over and park it. Once at city hall, the player is rewarded by being able to declare a holiday of their choice such as Kid’s Day.
“You need to play it, you need to have the interaction and experience the fun of the game,” said Parker.
According to Parker and Killgo, the game sparks conversation and learning. For example, when a child lands at city hall a parent could ask a child, who’s the mayor? The child could then answer, John Gayle, or ask.
“It promotes civil ideas and social studies,” said Killgo. “There’s all kinds of implications.”
While the patent is 100 percent official and the game prototype is done, this isn’t the end for PAR-GO.
“I do still have aspirations. I would like to see it get in parents and children’s hands,” said Killgo.
While it is rare for independently driven game prototypes to enter the highly competitive toy market, it isn’t completely impossible.
“There have been games that have entered the market because someone is determined,” said Killgo.
The pair hopes to come upon a “financial angel” that would help finance the production of their game to field it into the toy market.
They would even like to further expand their gaming venture to adapt to the highly technological nature of people today.
“One of my goals is to see it adapted to a computer version,” said Parker.
It’s not the end of the road for PAR-GO. While they will not be content just parking at the satisfaction of receiving an official utility patent, they are quite thrilled with where their dedication and persistence over the past seven years has landed them. Without a doubt, this dynamic duo will continue to drive their success with the same “go” mentality that lead to the creation of Park or Go in the first place.