by Aaron Haag
"I am surprised to find in all the research I have done on the 3M Bookshelf Game JATI that no one credits the author/designer of the game. I have a Minneapolis Tribune newspaper article published December 5, 1965 about the designer, Keith Havens of Mound, Minnesota."
These are the first two sentences of an email I received from Sheri McNally on 6 April 2008. Taking the fact that I had researched on the JATI in the internet when we published Moritz' article on the game and couldn't find any information on the author I first took this as a belated April Fools Day joke.
Luckily, we have Günther in our gaming group, one of the experts on 3M games and I forwarded the email to him asking for his opinion. His first reaction: "Looks like a joke but let's check." So he got in touch with Sheri via email and Sheri was so kind to scan the newspaper article and send it to him as a proof. She had found the newspaper clipping in the bottom of the box of her JATI game that she had bought at a garage sale.
The article is a piece on Keith Havens, an artist and game designer, describing how he works on game designs and his attempts to get them published. Asked what games are most difficult to sell his answer was: strategy games, because people don't like to think. Quite an interesting statement and I wonder if that was just his personal opinion about what people liked to play or if it was typical for the time…
|click on above picture to download
an OCR'ed version of the newspaper article
Very little can be found in the internet about Keith Havens, in fact there is only one reference about his style of painting in an article about an exhibition at the James J. Hill House in St. Paul, Minnesota and a quote of him on the Dick Maw online gallery website. His work as a game designer is not referenced at all.
The JATI game Sheri owns has "Keith Havens" printed on the label just under the name of the game (and it looks like it is actually part of the label, not written on), and she is wondering if there are any other copies of JATI out there with his name on the front label. This might have been an original prototype label or perhaps a special label done for Keith Havens, though none of the other 3M Bookshelf Games include the designer on the label. If somebody knows more about this please give Sheri a feedback (sheri_mc (at) hotmail.com) or leave a comment here using the feedback option below.
The news about the now discovered designer of JATI has already spread fast in the 3M game collectors community and game collectors' catalogues are being updated already with this piece of information. Thanks again to Sheri for informing us and sending us the article.
Find out more about the Jati game on the pages of the pages of the European Game Collectors Guild.
©2008, Westpark Gamers