Sara, an arts graduate and qualified art teacher, met Leslie, a school drop out with no formal qualifications, when they both worked at Intel Corporation’s fledgling UK headquarters in Oxford circa ‘78. Sara became Intel’s shipping officer (bizarrely) & Leslie, its marketing communications manager (equally bizarrely). Leslie left Intel to start her own business (called Leslie Scott Associates, though there were no ‘associates’ at the time) specifically to launch a game she had created and named, Jenga. Today, produced under licence by Hasbro, Jenga is a phenomenal hit worldwide (50 million games sold to date). But this was no overnight success story. It took several years to take off, during which time Scott tried her hand at many different projects in an attempt to keep her many debtors at bay.
Sara left Intel and formed a design partnership with another ex-Intel employee, Arabella Herschell, and set up a small office in the enormous nissen hut Leslie had rented for a pittance to house LSA. Sara and Arabella then joined Leslie to publish a word game they called Swipe, and to devise, write and publish Good Gift magazine; an editorial guide to shopping from home. A little ahead of its time – the internet shopping boom wouldn’t hit for another 15 years – and a little over-ambitious and under funded, the magazine folded after just three editions. But meanwhile, Leslie’s game Jenga was slowly beginning to gather a following, and LSA’s game SWIPE had caught the attention of word-game enthusiasts, as a result of which LSA was approached to design a game to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway, which was published by Gibson Games.
One thing led to another. Institutions as diverse as Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, and Burtons Biscuits, commissioned games (The Bodleian Game, and Jammie Dodg’ems respectively), as did Marks & Spencer (Thomas the Tank Engine book of games). Leslie and Sara (Arabella had moved on), realising that they had an unusual talent for devising (Leslie) and illustrating (Sara) games, for which there was an obvious demand, decided to design and publish their own range of games.
And thus Finch & Scott, which became Oxford Games, was born.
For ten years, Oxford Games devised, manufactured and marketed its own games. Then in 1999, the company closed its manufacturing and marketing divisions, and licensed out its complete range of games to Lagoon Games, who published many of OGL’s games over the next ten years.
Today, Leslie Scott, now an author (About Jenga), and Sara Finch, now a teacher and the creator of a range of irresistibly beautiful soft toys, are revitalising the Oxford Games Collection by republishing two of its perennially popular games ; Ex Libris & Anagram.