Eric Sillies is, first and foremost, a family man. Growing up in Springboro, Ohio, he says he and his competitive siblings could make a game out of pretty much anything. Now, with three children of his own and a fourth on the way, Sillies says he aims to be the kind of dad that his father was. Hearkening to his own father’s example, Sillies says he makes time to “[…] get down on the floor and play with his kids in a way that is meaningful and will create memories.” For Sillies, board games are a way to connect with people not only inside but outside his family as well.
First a product designer and now an innovation director for a local creative agency, Eric is no stranger to both devising a strategy and building products with story. His passion lies in “conceiving new ideas and figuring out how to make them work.” In 2016, Sillies took home a $500,000 grand prize after his Triton driver design was declared the winner of the Driver vs. Driver reality series on the Golf Channel. His inventing success was not to be short-lived. At some point, Sillies got his hands on an out-of-print German resource game and wanted to not only vastly build and improve a specific facet of the game, but also provide an immersive theme that would incorporate deception, manipulation, and cunning. Having listened to a financial podcast on the 1983 movie Trading Places, he believed the stock market would be the perfect playground for him to develop a game where players have to outwit and outplay their opponents.
Exchange is intended to be a “Game that anyone can sit down and learn and understand in a relatively short period of time, whether you love games or have only played a few in your life.” Although easy to pick up, Sillies favorite part of the game is the layered strategy behind the mechanics. There is an element of “reverse reverse-psychology,” as Sillies explains it.
Attempting to cross an item off of his bucket list, Sillies took Exchange to Kickstarter saying, “My goal was to get it launched. I didn’t allow myself to fathom that it would be so successful to be picked up by a publisher.” This train of thought speaks to the ‘Humble Hustle’ motto Sillies lives by. He says it’s important not to “[…] get so wrapped up in yourself. The world is bigger than you. Rather than boasting or bragging, build something meaningful that you love and that others love.”
Sillies reflects that perhaps the hardest thing about his side hustle as an inventor is the “Patience and time it takes to conceive an idea, develop prototypes, and make it right.” Staying busy with work and family leaves little time for hobbies, but Sillies believes his time as a husband and father is “one of the best investments he can make.”
Working with Games by Bicycle is yet another example of the love Sillies has for community. “There is such a heritage and love around the Bicycle brand,” he says, and the fact that the company is Cincinnati based doesn’t hurt either. “Knowing that this was the right time, the right company, and the right game felt good.”
Although it’s apparent in both his easygoing nature and the way he speaks, if there is one thing that Sillies wants readers to take away from him, it’s that “Having a family is a big part of who I am, and my love for making things, board games, and family, are all important elements of what I try to bring together.”