Chantel Calloway diversifying the game aisle with Rhyme Antics

Chantel Calloway diversifying the game aisle with Rhyme Antics
Photo courtesy of Rhyme Antics

Chantel Calloway is diversifying the game aisle with her creation, Rhyme Antics, a board game promoting literacy through hip-hop. She joins rolling out to discuss the journey and impact of her game, the first Black-owned game to be sold in Target and other major retailers.

Can you share a bit about this game’s evolution? How did it originate?
The genesis of the idea came from me being a student of the culture; hip-hop raised me. It’s an American family tradition to play games after the holidays. However, after decades of playing the same games, [the question was raised about] hip-hop as the number one music genre in the world, so why is there no game themed in hip-hop? So my dad came up with this color response rap game and we all started playing it as a family and loved it. So in 2010, I decided to develop a game that paid homage to this amazing culture and genre of music.

Another big factor in this game’s creation was your passion for promoting literacy, how did that come into play in the development of Rhyme Antics?
I wanted to develop something that added value back to the culture. I grew up in the golden era of hip-hop where MCs were real lyrical geniuses. If you study the golden era, a lot of MCs were reading books and studying the rhyming dictionary. So I realized that it was actually a literacy game too, with over 2000 vocabulary words. I realized the educational value of this game is huge. So, I developed a curriculum around it and started teaching it in Boys and Girls Club locations and saw that it was really engaging the kids in a special way. So by accident, my number one customers have become teachers in schools.

Why is this so impactful for the Black community and for these Black children?
Research studies show that you know, we have the lowest literacy rates out of everybody. It’s really a huge concern because low literacy rates are the number one reason for the school-to-prison pipeline. I have a deep concern for the future of our [Black] children and the effects of COVID-19 are increasing the disparity in our statistics. We have to promote reading and book culture, in the household and to our students, because it’s going to be imperative to their futures.

What type of marketing strategies did you use to really get your game out there and to get the attention of these big companies in stores?
I didn’t have any money for a very long time, and one of the characteristics of a good entrepreneur is the ability to think outside of the box. So I would crash game nights or host game nights. A lot of my success has been just based on networking, telling somebody what I was doing, showing up at free events, and asking people if I could host a game night.

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