Besides being a game collector and historian, Bruce Whitehill has been a game inventor for over 30 years.
While working as a full-time game developer for Milton Bradley, he invented:
“Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” game
Snoopy Card Game
Working for Pressman Toy, Bruce was responsible for the addition of the extended shaft in "Topple,"which differentiated it from the precursor games in England and Germany and led to its extended run in the USA.
As an independent, Bruce has had the following games published:
U.S. Trivia Trip A “game mini-booklet” for the American Hotel and Motel Association, New York, NY; 1985
The Psychedelic Cypher Caper - a mystery party caper
Change Horses - where the horse who comes in LAST wins
Drei (Three) - a three-player abstract strategy game with all wood pieces
Talat - The "Three" game introduced by Huch! & Friends at the 2011 Essen Games Fair in Germany
Fuse (Lunte) - A card game with a growing fuse and only two chances to score in the entire game; Mückespiele, 2015; Zoch, 2016.
High 5 - Party game where matching answers count; 2015 release by Moses Spiel, Germany
In or Out - Party trivia-style game - what you know is NOT the answer counts too; scheduled for Toy Fair 2017 release
Bruce Whitehill is considered the world’s foremost authority on American game companies. As a historian, he has written extensively on American games and the products and people that defined the industry. His book, "Games: American Games and Their Makers, 1822-1992," (now out of print but available from the author), is the most authoritative work on the history of American games and game companies ever published. His second book, "Americanopoly: America as Seen Through Its Games," was published in conjunction with his exhibitionat the Swiss Museum of Games (Musée Suisse du Jeu) in La Tour-de-Peilz.
He is the author of the extended section on games in Grolier’s New Book of Knowledge encyclopedia, and his extensive study on the history of American games and the U.S. games industry was a featured entry in the book, Board Game Studies/2, the International Journal For the Study of Board Games, published by Leiden University, The Netherlands. His articles appeared regularly in Antique Toy World and Collectible Toys and Values, and he has written for Antique Trader, Baby Boomer, Collectible Toys, Collectible Trend$, The Ephemera Journal, Goodtimes, Inside Collector, KayBee Toys Magazine, the New Jersey Star Ledger, Toys and Prices, Toy Values Monthly, and other magazines; his report on the histories of early American games still being manufactured appeared as a four-part series in Games International magazine in England.
Bruce has presented lectures on American games and game history at international symposia of the international academic research body, Board Game Studies, including colloquia in Florence, Italy (1999); Marburg, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; and Brugge, Belgium. His papers were published in the official proceedings, including Board Games in Academia III.
Mr. Whitehill was on the editorial staff of three now-defunct games magazines: He was the senior editor of Games Annual; the associate editor for the monthly magazine, Games Games Games, published in England; and the senior editor of Knucklebones. He edited an online games and puzzles newsletter, All in the Game, and was a monthly columnist for the collectibles magazine, Toy Shop. He currently has a regular column ("My Turn") in the English-language edition of spielbox magazine, and a second column ("My Look Back") as space allows.
His pseudonym, “The Big Game Hunter,” came in the early 1980s as he began to amass his collection of mostly pre-WWII American games, bagging games for himself and “hunting” them for others on request. (He makes it clear on his website that he does not support hunting animals for recreation or sport, …"so if that’s the kind of game hunting you’re looking for, you’re on the wrong site!")
Mr. Whitehill writes about games as they reflect American culture. As a result of his expertise in games and recreational artifacts (he also collects jigsaw puzzles and mechanical puzzles), he has been called upon to aid and advise museum staff, appraise private collections, provide auction houses with information and estimated values of games coming up for sale, and even provide historical data for major game companies involved in litigation.
Mr. Whitehill had the largest diversified collection of antique American games in the world – over 400 U.S. companies represented from 1843 to 2000. He also has an impressive collection of game advertisements, catalogs, books, and ephemera which he uses to help him with his games research. His special areas of collecting are mystery games, skill-and-action games, and advertising games and premiums. He is a member of the Europäische Spielesammler Gilde – European Society of Game Collectors (ESG) and the Association of Game & Puzzle Collectors.
As a collector, he has been featured on Charles Kurault’s “Dateline America,” CNBC’s “Smart Money,” “The Joe Franklin Show,” and on “Personal FX” on the FX cable network, and “Public Affairs” on Fox TV (Rochester, NY). As a games expert and historian, he has been spotlighted in such magazines as Grit , Woman’s World, Toy & Hobby World, and has been quoted in Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, and numerous other publications. He was the main feature in Rhode Island Monthly magazine, in September, 2003. He was the guest commentator for a full hour on NPR, National Public Radio’s “Public Interest,” on a special program devoted to games and their development. His remarks about the design and merchandising of games appear in a chapter on the marketing environment, in the college textbook, Marketing (Charles Lamb; International Thomson Publishing). He was even the subject of an internationally syndicated Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! cartoon which was translated into various languages for publication throughout the world.
Games are both an avocation and a vocation for Mr. Whitehill, who has spent 30 years as a game inventor and consultant to the Toy and Game industry. He is the inventor of such games as “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” (Milton Bradley Company’s best seller for 1984 -- the game is now housed at the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum in London), “The Fraggle Rock Game,” “Snoopy Card Game,” and “Centipede (a copy of which is at the Computer Games Museum in Berlin),” among others; his “Championship Baseball” has been on exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. His “The Psychedelic Cipher Caper,” a mystery party game, was a parlor game extension of his other vocation: writing and directing live-action, murder mystery dinner theater productions. Mr. Whitehill continues to develop game concepts for companies and independent inventors, and is expert at analyzing and enhancing game play and writing detailed instructions. He is a member of the Spiele Autoren Zunft – Game Designers Association (SAZ).
As a prominent exhibitor of early games, he has had major game exhibitions at museums in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, as well as in La Tour de Peilz, Switzerland and Chemnitz, Germany; items from his large collection have been on display in galleries from Essex, Connecticut, to Seattle, Washington, and his extensive selection of travel games was viewed by thousands of people in a unique exhibit at the San Francisco International Airport. His extensive collection of games themed around the American West was sold to the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York, and many of his earliest games are now at the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York.
Mr. Whitehill is the founder and past president of the American Game Collectors Association, now known internationally as the Association of Game & Puzzle Collectors, and has served on its board of directors for over 30 years; the organization is committed to the collection and preservation of games, jigsaw puzzles, and mechanical puzzles, and to the research on the people and companies that invented, designed, manufactured, and/or distributed them. Mr. Whitehill spent over two years as editor of the AGCA newsletter for game collectors and researchers, Game Times, and has organized two international game conventions, including the 20th anniversary convention in Philadelphia in 2004, and was responsible for the development of the organization’s first European convention, in 2005.
And, as “The Big Game Hunter,” he has been able to uncover unusual games for game company presidents, game buffs, and nostalgia lovers around the world.
As a dedicated writer, collector, and researcher, Mr. Whitehill, in the past three decades, has added more to the collective body of information on American game history than has been written in the last two centuries. He is committed to conducting research on the game industry and to uncovering the histories of the people who invented games and the U.S. companies that manufactured them. He is exploring also the relationship between American games and games of the world. Mr. Whitehill is continually discovering, amassing, and sharing new information about this unique aspect of world culture, examining the effects of advertising, licensing, and marketing, and exploring the role of games in U.S. education, leisure, and family life. He now lives in Germany -- land of the best games to play today -- and enjoys the chance to do comparative studies between American and European games.