How to organize Marbles Games

Meet the new marbles champs

iPhone App Developer Tip #1 – Listen, Observe and Improve

Tips for the Independent iPhone App Developer

How to organize Marbles Games

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Organizing marbles games is surprisingly easy. This is a simple, fun activity for kids starting around four years up to about twelve.

Find a location

You may find several good places in your community to play marbles. Here are some ideas. Find a cool neighborhood toy store that has a large floor or game room. A family run business like a small toy store would love to have more kids and parents visiting. Visit a local grade school, fire station or court house for a large cement or wood floor that would work for marbles games. Or if you are really committed and you have kids returning week after week, try building a dedicated marbles ring.

Get the word out

If there are a lot of kids in your neighborhood you may just start with a few flyers posted. You may be able to distribute flyers through a local school system. Of course there are the social networking sites: Facebook, twitter, google plus and others. Don’t worry about starting small. You could just invite your friends and let the word get out slowly.

Bring lots of marbles.

If you are organizing a community marbles event, be sure to bring lots of marbles. Not many kids today have marbles laying around. That shouldn’t be a problem for you though because marbles are cheap. You can buy them in bulk from a place like Moon Marble. Part of the fun of playing marbles is in winning someone else’s marbles, especially if they are special. If you buy marbles in bulk, be sure to buy a few larger ones or some of a special style. Mix those in with the rest when you distribute them to kids.

Organizing marbles games

On the day of your marbles games, you have just one mission. Have fun! You can arrange for the older kids to play a tournament and crown a marble king and queen. Or, you can keep it informal and give the kids a chance to just play marbles.

Try to make marbles games a regular event. Parents and kids may be more likely to attend and bring friends once they have had a fun playing marbles.

welcome @ August 24, 2011

Meet the new marbles champs

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America has a new king and queen of Marbles. The 2011 national marbles tournament has just concluded in Wildwood New Jersey. A boy and a girl from the Pittsburg area have extended their region’s winning streak to five years in a row, ascending to the top of the marbles world.

Brandon Matchett and Bailey Narr were crowned the King and Queen of marbles on Thursday.

Bailey, 11, of Laurenceville PA beat Katie Carozza, 11, of Mesa, Colo., for the girls’ title at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J.

Brandon, 12, of the South Side beat Jordan Narr, 13, of Lawrenceville — Bailey’s cousin — for the boys’ title.

“We’ve had a nice run of champs,” said Ed Ricci, marbles instructor for the Allegheny County Parks Department.

Allegheny County has boasted a national champion for five straight years, and he noted that his daughter, Amber Ricci of Glenshaw, and John Leffakis of Lawrenceville — a cousin of the Narrs’ — won the girls’ and boys’ titles in 2008.

The winners each get a trophy, a medal and a $2,000 scholarship.
“The secret is just to have fun and do your best,” Bailey said. “It’s all in your thumb strength. Every practice, your thumb gets a little bit stronger.”

She has been a mibster — or marbles shooter — since she was 7. She practices about an hour and a half a day.

Brandon, who has been playing since he was 9, spends about five hours a day practicing.

“It helps you build up your focus and get distractions out of your head,” he said.

Ricci said the county recruits marbles players by sending champions to shopping malls, schools and parks to show children how the game is played.
“We had a lot of help working with these kids to get their abilities where they need to be,” he said.


welcome @ June 28, 2011

iPhone App Developer Tip #1 – Listen, Observe and Improve

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This isn’t exactly rocket science – so I apologize in advance for stating the obvious.  It isn’t realistic to expect your app to gain any traction on version one.   My first mistake was in expecting to incorporate too many features into the first version.  As a result, the project went over budget and took too long to complete.   We worked hard to eliminate memory leaks and bugs and as we hoped, it was approved at the Apple store on the first try.   On the big day of the release, we were blown away by the roaring silence of the game’s reception.   The silence was deafening.  For two weeks I agonized about the painful anonymity of an app that cost several thousand dollars and hundreds of hours of labor to “complete”.   It was a flop.  It was a flop like the vast majority of apps on the Apple store.   It was generating about $5.00 per week in revenue.  Since Apple doesn’t send the first check to a developer until $150 has been generated, this was going to take a long time to even see the first check – let alone recovering my investment or (to dream)  - paying off my mortgage.

Oh Marbles! was published in the fall of 2009 when there were about 80,000 apps in the Apple store.  Now there are more than 200,000, and about 20,000 added per month.    This knowledge left me with two choices.   I could cut my losses and move on, or figure out what I am doing wrong and make corrections.   After periodic bouts of depression, I have committed to the latter.

The obvious question to ask then is how to improve the app.

Listen:   Marbles is a game usually played by kids.   In the US, it hasn’t been widely played for decades.   Young kids tell me that they like Oh Marbles!   My teenage kids tell me that the game really sucks.   One adult reviewer completely misunderstood how it works.  My reviews indicate that people either really love it, or they don’t get it at all and give it a one-star rating.

Some of the features that I implemented from the start are either unnecessary, unhelpful, or poorly done.  Features other people routinely implement to help their app gain users were missing completely from my app.

User Reviews:  In spite of not finding bugs in testing, users report bugs, and we are gradually fixing them.

Friends and Family – If I had listened to my family, I wouldn’t have made this at all.  Sometimes you must follow your dream.

Target Audience – It has been important to understand my target audience.  I have come to realize that this is a kids game targeted to sentimental adults.   This corresponds with the reality that kids are more likely to download free games, while adults have credit cards associated with their iTunes accounts.  If kids like it for the play and their parents approve the purchase, all the better.

Observe – You can identify an independent iphone app developer because they are the ones logging into the developer portal and checking stats daily.  We are the ones buying other apps just to see how they implemented facebook or some other social networking device.   This is a productive exercise.  Purchase some of the most popular or best revenue generating apps and consider how to use the marketing strategies built into their applications.    Oh Marbles uses the video link in a similar fashion as Angry Birds, for example.

So be inspired. Take the best ideas used in other applications, synthesize them into your design, and make the app better.

welcome @ July 26, 2010

Tips for the Independent iPhone App Developer

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Oh Marbles! This has been tough! It is certainly true that the work just begins when an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad application is finally published on the iTunes App Store. For the independent and self funded developer, the act of publishing can be like playing the lottery or starting a rock band. This independent developer is of the opinion that success will come if we think of it like becoming a rock star. Sure, it takes some luck, but the odds improve with a good strategy, masterful execution, persistence, and hard work.  In the same way that most garage bands never become famous, you cannot expect anything good to come of a simple, look-alike game that you throw together and abandon on the Apple store.  It will just be more debris in the Apple wasteland of abandoned and anonymous apps.

This section of the Oh Marbles! Blog is to describe for you the lessons I have learned in making just one app and promoting it for the App store. These are the topics that will be covered here:

  1. Listen and improve
  2. Go global
  3. Monitor your performance in various App stores
  4. Make a map
  5. Tell a friend
  6. Adjust the price
  7. Get reviews
  8. Try free app
  9. Build in a review prompt
  10. Add facebook integration
  11. Press releases
  12. Make a narrative
  13. Videos
  14. Video help
  15. Be unique
  16. Be consistent
  17. Choose keywords carefully
  18. Chose publishers name carefully
  19. Numbers game
  20. Use google keyword research to identify good app keywords
  21. Google analytics
  22. Jumptap.com
  23. Advertising that sucks
  24. Cross marketing
  25. Facebook strategies
  26. App wasteland – standing out from the debris that get zero sales
  27. Keeping the product description fresh
  28. Pick a good name (include keywords, refer to Peter Whitley’s categories)

I hope that you find this to be helpful.  The individual articles will be added as time permits.

Wes Sauer

welcome @ July 26, 2010

Oh Marbles! The #3 Family Game!

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Well, sort of! Oh Marbles! It is currently ranked as the number three family game – in the App Store in MADAGASCAR!

We still have a ways to go to break into the top 100 in the US, Canada, France, the UK, Germany and other western countries.

We are working on another round of improvements to the game.  We’ll make the process for downloading marbles a little easier, and we’ll be adding some special effects too.

Thanks for your support!  Have fun!

welcome @ July 20, 2010

Day One of National Marbles Tournament

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Marbles tournament in Wildwood

What Is It: The 87th annual National Marbles Tournament is a four-day event in which “mibsters,” or marble shooters, ages 8 to 14 compete for national honors, awards, prizes and college scholarships. The event kicks off today.
Penolope Bauer, 12  Allegheny Co. Pa.

What To Expect: The game played is called Ringer, in which 13 marbles are placed in the center of a 10-foot circle in the formation of an X. Mibsters from across the country will take turns launching their large, “shooter” marbles at their regular-sized targets. The first player to knock seven marbles out of the circle wins.

Event Info: The tournament will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today through Thursday at the Ringer Stadium, located at Wildwood Avenue and the beach in Wildwood. The event is free for spectators. Call 304-337-2764 for more information.

welcome @ June 21, 2010

Oh Marbles! Going Global!

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Oh Marbles!  The number of cities where it is played is growing daily.

View Oh Marbles! in a larger map

welcome @ June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day!

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Update on Father’s Day Promotion – This has been a success!   Oh Marbles!  It was installed in the US, France, Italy, Great Brittan, Canada, Germany, Australia, Taiwan, Japan – a total of 50 countries.   It ranked in the top 100 free games in France yesterday.   The game will remain free through tomorrow.

Oh Marbles!  Today is Father’s day.   In honor of all of the dad’s out there, especially the ones that remember playing marbles as a kid, we have a special gift.   We are making the game a free download for today and tomorrow.  If you are a dad who just received a new iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, we encourage you to visit the Apple store and download Oh Marbles!

Happy Father’s Day!

welcome @ June 20, 2010

Mibsters Return to the Wildwoods

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WILDWOOD — Mibsters” from across the country will compete for national honors, college scholarships and many other prizes and awards during the 87th annual National Marbles Tournament here Mon., June 21 through Thurs., June 24 all vying for the title of “King” and “Queen” of marbles.

Players selected from local tournaments held in cities throughout the United States will unite in the Wildwoods for a week of serious marble competition and some fun on the famous Wildwoods Boardwalk.

More than 1,200 games will be played throughout the four-day tournament at Ringer Stadium, on the beach at Wildwood Avenue with the top eight shooters advancing to the semi-final competition.

The top two players will compete in a best of 15-game series for the championship. The victorious male and female will literally be crowned the victors of the tournament, and as part of tradition, the male winner will give a congratulatory kiss to the winning female – a tradition the winners may not like too much, but a tradition nonetheless.

The marble game in which competitors will participate in the tournament is called Ringer. It is played by placing 13 marbles in the form of an “X” in a 10-foot circle, with players alternating shots. The winner is the individual who is first to shoot seven marbles out of the ring.

The tournament will be held from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. daily. The event is free. For additional information, please visit www.nationalmarblestournament.org or call 304-337-2764.

By Press Release.

welcome @ June 10, 2010

Oh Marbles! The only iPhone game with “Dropsies”.

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Oh Marbles! This is the only game on the Apple Store that presents the classic game of marbles so that players can “pinch” a marble and drop it. It isn’t a marbles checkers game, or a “roll the ball on a track” game like so many others. It presents the best of the traditional marbles games where you select from your marbles, hold one, look it over closely, and then drop it or flick it into a circle to win other player’s marbles. There are three games.

Ringer – marbles are placed in a cross pattern in the center
Ring Taw – marbles are place randomly in a small circle in the center.
Dropsies – marbles are place randomly in the large circle

welcome @ June 2, 2010

Oh Marbles! video

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Our short promotional video is online now at youtube.  If you would like to see how Oh Marbles is played, check it out.

welcome @ May 27, 2010

Fascinated with Marbles Racing

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This documentary short from a Belgian Television News program describes a 72 year old man who has been racing marbles on tracks for 60 years.   He plays marbles for eight hours per day.   It provides a strange glimpse into the personal lives of these two seniors.  What do you think of their experience?

welcome @ May 27, 2010

Reading Marbles Tournament

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May 27, 2010
Reading, PA: The finals of the 88th annual City Marbles Tournament will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the marble rings in City Park.  The competition will be held rain or shine, but in the event of severe weather it will be moved to the 11th and Pike recreation center.  Winners and runners-up will be eligible for the National Marbles Tournament held June 20-24 in Wildwood, NJ.

welcome @ May 27, 2010

Special Marbles Run at Jabo

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The at Jabo marbles factory in Reno, Ohio, there is an old marbles kiln that was ready for the scrap heap years ago.  First put into production in 1932, this fantastic old machine produces one inch marbles on long rollers that produce perfect spheres.

Jabo master craftsman David McCullough came out of retirement to make one more run of the large marbles using the old kiln he declared ready for the scrap heap a year ago.

After years of begging by Steve Sturtz, a marble collector who splits his time between Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and Kingston, Ont., McCullough agreed to fire up the old furnace again, but with no guarantees how long it would hold up.

A small group of collectors put up $50,000 to make the run and gathered at the factory to pitch in. By the end of a long day that started at 4 a.m. Monday, the furnace was running fine. They planned to return Tuesday to finish the job — a total of 120,000 marbles.

You can find the rest of this story at Cleveland.com.

welcome @ May 27, 2010

31st Amana Marble Meet

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America’s oldest marbles collector’s show will return for the thirty first time this year on June 4-6 2010.  Banquet speakers will be Paul Baumann and Roger Matile. Their topic is “Carpet Bowls: Those Marvelous Un-Marbles.” History, pattern description, rarity, and how to tell new vs. old will be covered. Paul is the author of “Collecting Antique Marbles,” which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year! Roger is the primary author of the carpet bowls section of that book and has done several articles on the subject for “Antique Week.”

welcome @ May 21, 2010

Cory Anderson – Winlock Marbles

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Cory Anderson is a self taught marble maker based in Winlock Washington. His marble sets are highly sought after for their nostalgic appeal and quality craftsmanship.  “I have always been fascinated with these little orbs we call marbles, but who isn’t?….they have a mystique about them……..everyone loves a marble & everybody you talk to has a marble story!”  Winlock Marbles have reached all corners of the globe. Making marbles & talking to people from around the world brings me much joy, the same joy shared by the collectors of my little creations. www.winlockmarbles.com

welcome @ May 21, 2010

iKeepsies is now Oh Marbles!

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Oh Marbles!   Yes, the new version of this classic marbles game is available at the Apple Store.  We made the name change because it is a better description of the game.   It reflects the excitement that some kids have when seeing cool marbles.  It is shorter, and it is immediately recognizable.   The web site will be updated over the next few days.  Thanks!

And guess what?  Oh Marbles! Lite is in review at the Apple Store and we expect it to be released tomorrow.  Yippee!

welcome @ May 12, 2010

Timeless marbles – a Streetside game of marbles in Delhi

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This was originally posted on Youtube.

Delhi is a North Indian migrant labourer’s dream, with Madhya Pradesh standing eighth in the top ten contributors’ list. These Children playing marbles live in the migrant labourers’ shacks next to my house in Ghaziabad, NCR (National Capital Region). They have come from the Sagar District of MP & have left behind their aging parents, small land holdings, cattle, relatives, friends & enemies. The men work as Rickshaw pullers, Brick Kiln labourers & subcontractors and the womenfolk as housemaids in up to five houses per day. An enterprising middle aged lady has opened up a tea stall next to the Local Electric Sub Station. The electricity supply to the shacks is hooked from the sub station supply lines above. Nobody complains. In the evening men return from work & after dinner- they always find time to sing their folk song for hours despite having a TV set & cable connection in each shack.

Most of the kids, sadly, do not go to school, they play all day. Elder one’s assist their parents or find their own work by the age of 10-12.

These Kids playing marbles reminded me of my childhood days when we would fight tooth & nail to extract our victory spoils & sometimes return with a missing tooth but our marble treasure right in place. This didn’t work in reverse though- I still owe my friend Ashish about 1,54,000 marbles (bet in an impulse match) which he teases me about whenever we meet in our village :-)

welcome @ May 6, 2010

Marble Racers!

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Is it a race car? Is it marbles!  YES!  Skullduggery has introduced a new toy that merges two classic American toys – model cars and marbles.   “Marble Racers” come in six different designs.  Each a plastic car, racing decals, and a 1 inch LED marble, wheels and axles.   The marbles flash when the cars are rolled, and they are designed to fit onto 1/64 scale Hot Wheels tracks.

Marble Racer

This made in America toy is designed to encourage creativity and hands on play for kids.  The marble racers are packaged as a kit, so that you can customize the appearance of the car when you build it yourself.   www.skullduggery.com

welcome @ May 2, 2010

Marble Days – You’ve got to love it.

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Some people in the world are just so serious.  Then there are the ones who are brilliant, dedicated and fun at the same time.  I get the impression that the folks at Moon Marble are a happy bunch.   You should see the Marble Days event that is taking place on Saturday, May 1 2010 (tomorrow).   www.marbledays.com.   MarbleDays.com is a beautiful web site design, referencing a classic comic book style.  This is what the web site says about the Marble Days event in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Traditionally, Marble Day has been on the first weekend day of May. In Europe, children had long ago celebrated by playing marbles, because it was the first day of spring that the ground was dry enough to get down on their knees. Marble Days is just a one day event, but is jam-packed with different super events and extra-ordinary activities for children and adults who want to be a kid again. It’s not just marbles—it’s connecting with things from the past. Dress in your old tyme best and join us for our annual celebration.

welcome @ April 30, 2010

Hmmm. Where did Grandma put those marbles?

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Did you know that there are marble collectors who will pay up handsomely for antique marbles?  Modern, mass produced marbles are not worth much, but  19th- and early 20th-century marbles are quite valuable.  While the very rare, early examples of an item are difficult to find,  you can also collect the not-so-old-and-rare versions.  Later marbles made in America by companies such as Akro Agate and Christensen are collectible too, and rising in value. As ever, the better the condition, the better the value, so look for ones that aren’t chipped and scuffed – and common cats’ eye marbles aren’t particularly collectible.  There are a number of web sites where you can learn more about marble collecting, but JoeMarbles.com is a good place to start.

Indian Blanket Marbles

These are Indian Blanket marbles made by the Akro Agate Company between 1910-1914.
Marble photo used by permission, © 2008 Joe Street, www.joemarbles.com.

welcome @ April 20, 2010

Mother and Daughter Marbles Champs covered by WPVI-TV

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SHILLINGTON, Pa. – April 13, 2010 (WPVI) – Two of the very best marble players in the world live in Berks County. And they’re more than just a team the dynamic duo is made up of a mother and her daughter. (read more)

welcome @ April 15, 2010

86th annual National Marbles Tournament:
June 21-25 2010

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The 86th annual National Marbles Tournament comes to Wildwood, NJ in June  2009. The “mibsters”(marble shooters) will compete for national honors,  college scholarships and numerous prizes and awards. The mibsters will play more than a 1,200 games over the four‑day tournament. Champions selected from local tournaments held in cities and counties around the United States will converge on Wildwood for a week of serious marble competition and fun on amusement rides and boardwalk attractions.Wildwood National Marbles Tournament


welcome @ April 9, 2010

Battle Marble Matches

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In Battle, United Kingdom on High Street at the Battle Abbey Green, a record 140 people turned out on Good Friday morning to take part in the annual Battle Marbles Matches.  This annual marbles tournament looks like great fun for kids and all.  

The Battle Marbles Shield for the best dressed ladies’ team was won by The Senlac with their version of Snow White and the Five Dwarfs with the Abbey Ladies dressed as The Abbey Maids to take silver.

It was also a record year for entries in the Children’s Easter Bonnet Competition with 45 children taking part.

Battle Marbles

welcome @ April 9, 2010

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marblesRemember our post a few days ago about the Lapics competing in the World Marbles Championships in England?  They came within a hair of winning.   Whitney A. Lapic, the reigning American girls national champion, and her mother, former champion Debra E. Stanley-Lapic, both finished as runners-up in their respective classes at the marathon Good Friday championship in West Sussex, near London.  (more)


welcome @ April 4, 2010