Richard Tait, one of the creators of the smash hit board game Cranium, passed away in late July at the age of 58 from COVID complications. A venture capitalist originally from Scotland, Tait moved to the United States to pursue his MBA before working at Microsoft and eventually starting his own board game company. Tait developed Cranium with Whit Alexander after a vacation in which his friends could not agree on a single board game to play. Tait's attempt to develop an all-inclusive game that all types of gamers could enjoy resulted in Cranium, a party game that would go on to sell 44 million copies.
Cranium was a monumental game for the tabletop industry in part because of how the game was distributed. Instead of keeping the game at toy stores and hobby shops, Tait's company reached distribution deals with Starbucks, Amazon (which was then primarily known for selling books) and Barnes & Noble. Notably, Cranium was the first board game sold by Barnes & Noble – store locations today typically have an entire section of board games available for sale. Cranium's success helped pave the way for other non-traditional board games to find a foothold in mainstream retailers,
After Cranium received hundreds of awards and received endorsements from the likes of Julia Roberts, Al Gore, and Bill Gates, Tait and Alexander sold their company Cranium Inc. to Hasbro for over $77.5 million in 2008. Cranium remains a popular board game today, with dozens of variants and expansions keeping the game's motto of "A Game for the Whole Brain" alive and well.
After the sale of Cranium Inc, Tait remained an entrepreneur, most recently becoming a partner at Valor Siren Ventures. Tait's family noted that he died of continued pulmonary complications from COVID. "Richard was an incredible person and a bright light for so many," his family wrote in a statement on social media last week. "This is a devastating loss for all of us and he will be greatly missed."