By now, you’ve all seen a video on Facebook of people playing that game with their mouths forced open.
Yes, you have. It looks like this:
Well, did you know that the creators of this game are two JMU alumni? In fact, they’re married. It doesn’t get much cuter than that.
Alison and Peter Denbigh, the creators of Watch Ya’ Mouth, sat down with me to give me the inside scoop.
Naturally, I wanted to know how on earth they thought up this game. When asked about their inspiration, they said they were “watching The Boss with Melissa McCarthy and found the scene with the mouth guard funny.” So Alison and Peter started holding their lips open and trying to speak. Peter assured me that “there’s more to this than just a movie clip.” But that, folks, is where it all started.
I then asked Peter and Alison to take me through the game-making process… granted, there’s a lot to talk about. Upon further consideration, I requested a SparkNotes version.
Once the idea struck them, the couple tried their best to execute quickly. One of the biggest steps was figuring out what is that thing that was in Melissa McCarthy’s mouth? After some research, they found that it was called a cheek retractor. Their next focus: how do we get those? And one of their biggest concerns: how do we make sure they are safe for everyone to use?
“It has turned into a consumer good that is safe and that meets all Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Our work days have been between twelve and fifteen hours since the day we started,” said Peter.
The process, of course, has some bumps in the road. When asked what their biggest challenge is, Alison filled me in:
“Counterfeit products. They have to be our biggest challenge right now, it’s very difficult. Fortune 500 companies rip off our concept. These counterfeits are taking our box, running it through the copy machine, and claiming that it’s their own.”
Interestingly enough, the power couple has found a way to try and shut these counterfeits down.
“We are working tightly with Amazon. We’re trying to catch up with any bad reviews where people have unknowingly ordered counterfeit games and they review our actual product. We are trying to educate the consumer. Our game needs to be sold by and shipped by Amazon to verify that it’s indeed our product. They can also purchase our product at Target or Toys”R”Us,” said Alison.
These two have clearly been very successful in their own pursuits. So, backtracking a bit, I went ahead and asked them what their time was like here at JMU. Alison was a finance and economics major in COB and Peter was an ISAT major.
“Shout out to the ISAT program for enabling me to think differently and for the practical education that they provide. I credit a huge amount of what we’ve been able to do with this game to the framework of that program,” exclaimed Peter.
Since Watch Ya’ Mouth videos have gone viral, I asked the duo how it felt to see their game on just about every social media platform there is: “The best part of our day is watching the videos,” Peter said. “It’s super rewarding. It’s really neat to know that we’re helping a lot of people laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter bonds people, you know? If you laugh with your friend, you instantly get closer with your friend.”
When I asked if they had any advice for JMU students, Peter gave me some words of wisdom that you Daily Duke readers might find worth the read:
“Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of what people think of you. Just do it. And the reality is, if no one likes it and it’s terrible, no one will remember anyway.
When you commit to doing something, commit fully and execute quickly. Most people don’t really give their all… they think they are, but they aren’t. You know you’re giving it your all when you’re literally awake for 20 hours a day and you’re on the phone with China at 3AM and you’re just going 100% and your wife is doing the same thing… that’s when you know.
You’re going to fail. You just have to accept that. Don’t give in early. When you fail, accept it and fail forward. Don’t fail backward, fail forward.”
Check out the official Watch Ya’ Mouth game here: https://wymgame.com/