Wooden dice and gold-foiled playing cards. St. Louis is hotbed for fantastical, elaborate ‘designer’ games


John Coveyou, founder of Genius Games in Webster Groves, had noticed plenty of games that hinged on wormholes and parallel universes, but none that focused on his favorite topics in biology or chemistry.

“Science was always something I was inspired by,” he said. “It was therapeutic to me.”

Coveyou dove into gaming as a distraction during military deployments. After he left the Army, he earned an engineering degree but gave himself his own assignment: to create a new game every week.

In 2014, Coveyou published his first product, Linkage, which asks players to replicate and mutate DNA strands. Games based on atoms, peptides and the periodic table followed.

Last year, even with a few new releases left in limbo by a backed-up supply chain, Genius Games’ sales grew by a third. Coveyou added two employees.

Weird for a living

The pandemic hit newcomer Flying Leap Games harder.

The name recognizes that “starting a game company is kind of like taking a leap off a cliff,” said founder Molly Zeff.

She had been traveling all over, introducing her brainchild, Wing It, at trade shows and knocking on shop doors to find shelf space for her competitive exercise in “extreme storytelling” when everything shut down in the spring.

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