Leslie Scott, Inventor of Jenga and Co-Founder of Oxford Games

Jenga game, Invented by Leslie Scott

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If you love the game of Jenga, you will enjoy learning about the remarkable woman who invented the game.

Leslie Scott successfully navigated the male-dominated toy business to launch Jenga at the London Toy Fair. However, she would later sign her rights away before annual sales for Jenga soared into the millions. A decision made while still a new entrepreneur and something Scott regrets as Jenga remains the second best-selling game in the world.

Her Early Years and Family Life

Leslie Scott was born in Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and grew up in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Ghana. Scott was educated in Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Oxford. She is fluent in Swahili.

Although she now lives primarily in Oxford, England, she still considers Africa her home and maintains a separate home in Laikipia, Kenya. Scott is married and has two children.

Timeline of Leslie Scott’s Accomplishments

1983: Scott successfully launched Jenga at the London Toy Fair. 

1984: Sara Finch, Arabella Kiszley, and Leslie Scott launch SWIPE.

1985: Scott and Finch design The Great Western Railway Game, published by Gibson Games.

1986: Jenga was relaunched at the Toronto Toy Fair. Then chairman of Hasbro, Alan Hassenfeld, declared, "We just have to have it." According to an Oxford Times article, Demolishing the Jenga Myth, "...success across the Atlantic was to be soured by a deal she signed assigning the worldwide rights of Jenga to the Canadian-based brother of an Oxford friend."

1986-1991: Scott and Finch design and publish a wide variety of games as Finch & Scott.

1991: Oxford Games Ltd is founded (co-founded by Leslie Scott.)

1986-1998: Scott and Finch designed and published games for the Oxford Games Collection, for Past Times and for many other clients.

1998: Oxford Games Ltd licensed the entire Oxford Games Collection to The Lagoon Games Company to produce and market.

Source: Oxford Games Ltd

Games Invented by Leslie Scott

Scott is one of the few professional game designers in the world, and her long list of games in addition to Jenga include Anagram, Bookworm, Cloister Games, Auction, Jammie Dodg' ems, Ex Libris, Flummoxed, Garden Maze, Inns and Taverns, Inspiration, Ludus Romanus, Old Money, Playing Shakespeare, Retro, Tabula, The Great Game of Commette, Rune Stone, Sailor's Know, The Bodleian Game, The Celtic Game, The Game of the Raj, The Great Western Railway Game, The Hieroglyphs Game, The Islip Game, Tudor Joust.

About Jenga

Scott is best known as the creator of Jenga. The game's name is based on a Swahili verb meaning "to build." Jenga is the second best-selling game in the world.

Jenga consists of 54 identical, rectangular blocks that are first stacked in layers of three blocks to build a tower. Players then take turns removing blocks from anywhere under the top layer. The block is then placed on the top layer. The game continues until the tower (or any portion thereof) falls. The last player who successfully moved a block before the tower fell is the winner.