Actress Daryl Hannah -- known for her roles in Splash, Steel Magnolias and Kill Bill -- designed the party game Liebrary, her second published board game.
Liebrary, published by SimplyFun and co-designed by actress Hilary Shepard, is a party game for 3 to 6 players, ages 12 and up. Players listen to the title and a synopsis of a real book, then write down what could be the first line to that book. You earn points for each player who believes that yours is the real first line.
It's not unlike a literary version of Balderdash, and SimplyFun CEO Gail DeGiulio has been interested in publishing it for about a decade.
"I met Daryl about 10 years ago," DeGiulio said. "She brought Liebrary in, and I thought it was a wonderful game. At the time, the company I was with was not able to publish it."
But, DeGiulio said, the game "stuck with me for many years. So when we started SimplyFun, we contacted Daryl to ask if she still had the game and if she had licensed the rights to anyone. She had not."
SimplyFun developed the game over a period of six months, and the result is a large-format game that would look right at home on a coffee table. The weathered-looking cover and classic-feeling font make the game look like an old leather-bound novel. Dickens, perhaps, or Twain.
"The game looks like Daryl and Hilary said they had imagined it," DeGiulio said. "It has the feel, almost, of being a piece of art."
Hannah is an avid game player, DeGiulio said. And Liebrary is the second game she and Shepard have had published. In 1995, Tyco released Love It or Hate It, a party game.
Liebrary comes with 350 cards, and DeGiulio said SimplyFun hopes to publish expansions. "What we envision is that it will be a perennial hit," she said. "We do see an opportunity (for expansions). We've had requests for a junior version, and for expansions in particular categories. We believe it will be one of our most popular games."
Players can earn blank Liebrary cards -- to create their own -- by taking advantage of the SimplyFun "refer-a-friend" program, details of which can be found in the game box.
Although the game is recommended for ages 12 and up, some children as young as 8 can play Liebrary, as long as they can write fairly well, according to DeGiulio.
"We tested the game on couples, women, and kids," she said. "It's an absolute blast. When you play, you get to almost perform a little bit, so you can make them have some character to them. The other thing I like about Liebrary is that you don't have to know the books. Reading the synopsis means anyone can participate and have fun."
SimplyFun games are not available in stores. Instead, the company distributes games like Pampered Chef distributes cookware -- via a network of sales representatives who attend in-home parties. Anyone who would like to host a party simply fills out a form on the SimplyFun web site and waits to be contacted.
"We're trying to encourage people to spend 30 to 60 minutes a week -- or a day -- to play games," DeGiulio said. "Games develop lifelong skills. This game is all about creativity, writing skills, and laughing."