Throb! was conjured up from a mahjong game in my kitchen on Potrero Hill. Four good friends around a square table –cheap red wine , peanuts, mahjong tiles clickety clackety…”You’ve gone too far !” “I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.” ‘I have only myself to blame!” “Are you sure this is your first time?” “The mind says no but the body cries YES!” “Don’t fall in love with me!”" What first inspired us to to speak in hilarious clichés, I can’t recall now, but once started we could not stop. One ridiculous remark engendered another.
The next morning I woke up with a vision of a board game of romance in which Thrills were the currency and the mending of your broken heart the goal. After working up some preliminary rules I took the concept to Chris Hansen, my great good friend, cohort, and partner in many zany projects, who gleefully took on its design. Not only did he give the game a gorgeous retro style, he was an endless fountain of wit, often pushing my ideas to the edge and beyond. San Fiasco was born. We were certain Throb! was going to be the next Monopoly. All we needed was money to get it underway.
I took a mock-up to my father in Taiwan. He refused to look at it, and didn’t want even to hear any explanations, but, in the end, lent me the money. I think, from the few words of description I was able to get in, that he got the impression it was pornographic. If it had been, we probably would have made money, but it most definitely was not, being actually a comic send up of the game of love.
With my father’s loan in hand, I took a flying leap into the shark infested waters of board game publishing. The first hit was from a slick printer in South San Francisco who happily took my check but never delivered any games. When we went to sue him, we were laughed out of the Court House and told to get in line, there were that many people he had burned, including Southern Pacific Railroad, suppliers of ink and paper, and innumerable board game inventors. He eluded everyone. One day Chris and I came to his office only to see the Sheriff going in the front door, and the printer exiting from the rear, escaping in his Saab convertible.
The marketing was another pitfall. We were, of course, not good salesmen. I was good at getting myself onto talk shows on TV, but not good at synchonizing those appearances with the availability of the games in stores. In short we lost a considerable amount of money and ended up with a garage full of Throbs. Sob!