True to its name, the new and locally produced game called Break the Ice is definitely an ice-breaker for group fun.
Here's how it plays: After carefully extricating blocks of color-coded wood from a stacked tower, players then draw a corresponding card and follow its instructions.
• Thumb wrestle the person to the right of you.
• If you could rename yourself, what would you choose?
• Do five pushups.
The game proceeds until the tower collapses. (Yes, it has similarities to Jenga.)
Break the Ice, which has sold more than 100 units since its mid-December launch, is the brainchild of seven senior business students at GlenOak High School whose Junior Achievement company is called IceBreaker.
Collaborating on Break the Ice has given the team members welcome diversion during a school year overshadowed by COVID-19.
"This is not what I wanted from my senior year, but Junior Achevement has been super fun to do," said Chris Maag, 17, CEO of IceBreaker. "It helps me forget about all the stuff that's going on in the world."
"It's definitely been different this year. I feel like we've adapted to (COVID) very well, made it the normal now," said Ricky Adams Jr., sales person for IceBreaker.
"It's a great game to play with your family while quarantined for COVID," Maag noted.
Amanda De Fays, business teacher at GlenOak, praises the dedication of this year's small-business teams at the school, especially during the pandemic.
"They're not seeing anything as a closed door. Instead, it's, 'How can we get around it?' They're so optimistic," De Fays said. "Especially Chris' group (IceBreakers). It's a great pandemic product."
Other GlenOak students on the IceBreaker team are Tori Riggle (VP), Jordan Elder (marketing), J.T. Cooke (CFO), and Nick Rose and Kyle Staley (supply).
De Fays gives a personal testimonial for Break the Ice. "My mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and (while playing the game) she was able to recall things and become interactive," she said. "She really got into it."
A key element to the appeal and adaptability of Break the Ice is the 48 create-your-own cards (in addition to 48 printed cards) on which questions and tasks can be written with a provided dry-erase marker.
"My neighbor across the street home-schools his two young daughters and he uses the game for teaching," Adams said. "They play it all the time."
"A lot of teachers have bought them. They can put problems on the cards, or vocabulary words for language classes," Maag said. "Parents can use it for kids' chores. It can be a business-meeting icebreaker."
The local organization MentorStark bought 15 Break the Ice games. "They do a lot of mentoring and team activities," Maag said. The game "brings people together."
IceBreaker team members started developing Break the Ice last November, gave a "Shark Tank"-style sales pitch to obtain a $600 start-up loan from Junior Achievement and had the game ready to sell two weeks before Christmas.
The IceBreaker crew assembles the games together as a team. Break the Ice is housed in a drawstring cloth bag that can be custom silkscreened. Each game costs about $10 to produce.
Break the Ice, which sells for $25, is available for purchase at The Wise Owl at 4409 Whipple Ave. NW in Jackson Township and the Lepley & Co. stores at 13 Penn Ave. SE in Massillon, and 21 Furnace St. (Northside Market) in Akron. "We're trying to get into more stores and grow our social media," Mag said.
The game also may be ordered via email at IcebreakerJA2021@gmail.com. Free delivery is offered within a 30-mile radius of GlenOak. The game also may be shipped for a $3.30 fee. Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted.
"For every 10 we sell, we give one to an organization in the community, like Refuge of Hope and the Domestic Violence Project," Maag said.
Break the Ice also is available for play at Milestone, a board-game bar in downtown Canton.
By Dan Kane, The Repository