Richard Tait, co-creator of Hit Game Cranium, dies at 58
Richard Tait, one of the creators of the hit board game Skull, died at the end of July at the age of 58 of complications from COVID. A venture capitalist originally from Scotland, Tait moved to the United States to pursue his MBA before working at Microsoft and eventually founding his own board game company. Was developed Skull with Whit Alexander after a vacation in which his friends couldn’t 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 Skull, a board game that would sell 44 million copies.
Skull was a monumental game for the tabletop industry in part because of how the game was distributed. Instead of keeping the game in toy stores and hobby stores, Tait’s company struck distribution deals with Starbucks, Amazon (which was then primarily known for selling books), and Barnes & Noble. Notably, Skull was the first board game sold by Barnes & Noble – stores today usually have an entire section of board games available for sale. Skull of the success paved the way for other non-traditional board games to find a foothold in mainstream retailers,
After Skull received hundreds of awards and received accolades like Julia Roberts, Al Gore and Bill Gates, Tait and Alexander sold their company Cranium Inc. to Hasbro for over $77.5 million in 2008. Skull remains a popular board game today, with dozens of variations and expansions that keep the game’s motto “A game for the whole brain” alive.
After Cranium Inc was sold, Tait remained an entrepreneur, most recently becoming a partner in Valor Siren Ventures. Tait’s family noted that he died from ongoing COVID lung complications. “Richard was an amazing person and a shining light to so many,” his family wrote in a statement on social media last week. “It’s a devastating loss for all of us and he will be sorely missed.”