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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > May 2019 (#30) > How we made

How we made

Leslie Scott’s iconic stack of wooden bricks is a towering achievement of simplicity and tension. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to its enduring success


Few releases in the history of gaming have been as successful as Jenga.The block-balancing game’s simple premise and air of excruciating tension have seen it rack up more than 80 million sales, and since its creation in the 1980s it has grown from a one-woman project to one of the world’s biggest gaming brands.

It’s a game of skill, dexterity and careful stacking – and in a market where new products spring up at a bewildering rate, it’s remained popular for decades. But its success was far from a sure thing and, just like the hit release itself, the story of how it grew from an improvised game played with scraps of wood to a worldwide phenomenon is full of dramatic ups and downs.

We spoke to its creator, Leslie Scott, to discover how she created one of the world’s most popular tabletop titles.


Scott’s history with games dates back to her childhood.

“I was born in east Africa,” she says, “in what was then Tanganyika and is now Tanzania. My mother was born out there, so there’s quite a long family connection. I came to England for boarding school when I was 13 or 14, but home was always Africa.

“I always played games with my family, because we’re quite a competitive lot, and television didn’t really enter our lives until I was quite a bit older. So we played all sorts of board games that were around at the time. Cluedo was one of my big favourites when I was younger. I still think it’s a good game, but I think the reason it was a real favourite was that it was the one time we could get my parents to sit down with us and we’d play as a family.

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About Tabletop Gaming

In this month’s issue we’re celebrating the Pokémon Trading Card Game as Detective Pikachu hits cinemas, with fans and pros telling us why they catch ‘em all – and why you should join them! ⚡ 🔥 🌿 💧 In a trading card game special, we also take a look inside the UK home of Yu-Gi-Oh!, hearing how the card game plans to make its 20th anniversary its biggest year yet 🎉 Plus: 😨 Jenga creator Leslie Scott tells us how she invented the iconic brick-pulling classic 🌉 Ticket To Ride designer Alan R. Moon shakes things up with Aftershock: San Francisco & Venice 🖌️ Discover the hidden graphic designers behind the stunning visuals of your favourite games 🐄 Inside the weird and wonderful universe of the Secret Unknown Stuff trilogy of board games 📚 The 10 best board games based on books ⭐ Reviews of Lord Of The Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, Res Arcana, Hellboy, Museum, Call to Adventure, Victorian Masterminds, Warhammer 40000: Shadowspear, John Carter of Mars RPG, Corinth, Red Alert and more! Plus all the exclusive designer interviews, game previews, behind-the-scenes features, regular columns and hobby tips you’ve come to expect in every issue of Tabletop Gaming magazine!