Events News

People of Play Commits to In-Person Conferences for 2022 with Pitching Opportunities, Speakers, a Pub Night, and More

People of Play Webinar Truths

Get ready to learn, pitch and network your way to success with some of the most recognizable brands in the toy and game industry! The People of Play Inventor & Innovation Conferences, the largest and longest running toy and game inventor conference in the world, are back in person this year with an extensive lineup of speakers and panels inside and outside the industry. Plus, on the much anticipated Pub Night, we’re putting one of our own to roast, the indelible Matt Nuccio, President of Design Edge.


This year’s People of Play conferences, sponsored by Mattel, Moose Games, Radio Flyer, Goliath and will be held on November 17-20 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in the heart of Chicago on 600 North State Street. All attendees will receive a reusable gift tote from Moose Games filled with POP snacks (PopTarts, Tootsie Pos, Popcorn, Pop Rocks, etc.)


The conference kicks off on 11/17 at 8:30am with Robert Fuhrer, Owner of Nextoy presenting a very special POP DUO of Will Shortz, New York Times’ Crossword Editor and NPR’s Puzzle Master, and Josh Wardle, Inventor of Wordle.


Other highlights include:

  • A keynote on “Breaking Innovation Barriers” from Ted Curtin, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at ProdigyWorks, a company employing the world’s most original and creative minds to solve challenges for some of the world’s biggest brands.
  • Julia Fitzgerald, CMO at American Lung Association and Author of “Midsize: The Truths and Strategies of Marketing in Midsize Firms” shares how to market and stay on budget now and in the future.
  • James Howard, Executive Director of the Black Inventors Hall of Fame (BIHOF) and Executive Producer of BIHOF Films. Howard is also the recipient of the 2022 TAGIE Game Changer of the Year Award.
  • Peyton Gulley, Calm’s Content Acquisition & Development shows how Calm is working with toy and game companies.
  • Rachele Harmuth, Head of ThinkFun’s division of Ravensburger introduces us to new research about the mental health of kids after the pandemic and the importance of MESH (Mental & Emotional & Social Health) skills in toys and games.
  • Tanner Yarro, President of Yarro Studios, known for making $2 million in sales in 30 days, shares his expertise on the Evolution of Crowdfunding and Social Media.
  • T.J. Simmons, Vice President of Sales: Specialty & Key Accounts at THiN AiR Brands, LLC and President of ASTRA’s Board of Directors talks about The Future of Retail.
  • A panel of lawyers will discuss and answer questions about Intellectual Property Protection Now and in the Future (AI, NFTs and More)
  • Other panel experts include Peggy Brown of Peggy Brown Creative Consulting, Robert Yusim, President of Product Counsel, Gene Murtha of SCORE Association and ASTRA Board of Directors and POP’s Executive Committee and Azhelle Wade, The Toy Coach.


“After two years away, we can’t wait to welcome toy and game inventors from 18 countries around the world,” said Mary Couzin, President of People of Play. “If you have a product idea, you need to be in Chicago for this conference. We pride ourselves in creating the right environment so that new and professional inventors can learn from each other, make the right connections and move forward whether they have a winning idea or it is a stepping stone to the next one.”


One of the most popular attractions of the conference is POP Pub Night and this year’s event, being held at Radio Flyer HQ on November 17th at 7:00pm, will have some extra laughs during the comedic Roast of Matt Nuccio by his peers. With Brian Turtle of Goliath Games Roastmaster, we’ll see how Matt handles comments from the likes of Michael Kohner of The Michael Kohner Corporation, Rich Mazel of Spin Master, Pete Greenley of G2 Inventions, Ellen Heaney of PlayMonster and Tom Rushton of Revenew Sales.


“I must admit that when I first agreed to be roasted it sounded fun,” said Matt Nuccio, President of Design Edge. “However, now I’m getting reports of roasters calling my kids, my ex girlfriends and even my 5th grade teacher. In addition, I’m hearing that they’re trying to dig up some serious dirt… And to ALL of that I say, ‘BRING IT ON!’ I’m looking forward to a battle of wits and I realize that quite possibly there may be a few potential ‘career-ending moments’ that night. But hey, all in the name of FUN. And FUN is what it’s all about when you’re dealing with People of Play.”


Also that night, one lucky winner will walk away with a FLYER M880 Electric Cargo Bike from Radio Flyer!


Conference participants can choose from four tracks:

  • New Inventor/Innovation Track. Tickets available HERE
  • Professional Inventor Track. Apply HERE
  • Product Acquisition Executive. Apply HERE
  • Design Student. Special student pricing available. Contact for more information.


Tickets for the People of Play Conferences also include The Toy & Game Innovation Awards (The TAGIEs) on November 19th at 6pm, a gala celebrating the outstanding achievements by people in the toy and game industry. This year’s TAGIEs will be held at the Epiphany Center for the Arts.