SERIES: ChiTAG’s Rising Star of the Year Nominees: In Their Own Words — The Gang from Brian Gomez/Brain Games

Laura Richards
3 min readNov 10, 2017


By Laura Richards

L to R: Egils, Jānis, Edgars, and Renis

Brian Gomez: Ice Cool — Brian Gomez isn’t a person, it’s a group of four talented designers. The name is a word play; the name comes from their company name Brain Games. By changing some letters in it they rearranged to form Brian Gomez. All four men work for Brain Games and are the inventors/authors of the game Ice Cool and are nominees at the Chicago Toy and Game Week (ChiTAG) Rising Star of the Year Award which will be presented at this year’s ChiTAG Toy & Game Innovation Awards (TAGIE’s) ceremony in the Ballroom at Navy Pier on November 17, 2017
6pm — 11pm

Egils Grasmanis: I am CEO and founder of Brain Games, a board game Publishing company based in Riga, Latvia. I have been involved in board gaming business since 2004. It was a great surprise to be nominated as a Rising Star designer. This also puts a bit of pressure to become a star designer in future. And we are ready to accept this challenge ;) I’ve invented Social Network and Ice Cool (both board games). We became inventors while working in the development of submitted board game ideas. It was a natural process — we felt that we have the power to create something that would be different. And being different and unique in board game and toy design is the key to success. This award would be the first award given to us as the game designers and would mean a lot to us, especially as we are trying to establish our game in US.

Jānis Grunte: My name is Jānis Grunte and I come from Latvia. I have been enjoying all kinds of games since I was a little lad and my parents are to blame for this. And now I am very fortunate to be working in the game industry. About the nomination, it was a very very pleasant surprise to be recognized as a member of the group who invented Ice Cool. I have always liked to invent games and rules for games even when I was a kid. And somehow I have ended up doing it for a living. Winning the Rising Star Award would give me a huge motivation to continue going and do even more inovative games and toys.

Reinis Butāns: I live in Latvia, Riga and I’ve been working in gaming industry for about 9 years, but being an author is just a side activity of my daily tasks. Being nominated was a great honor and a surprise. About possibly winning, on one hand it would be a very pleasant and reassuring feeling but on the other hand it would likely put on some more pressure by setting the bar for any future projects even higher than it already is. Other than Ice Cool, the nly other board game I’ve been an author of is Deserted Animals. It was my passion project while I was shifting my attention from virtual games to board games.

Edgars Zaķis: I was born and have lived whole life in Riga. Have studied psychology and worked seven years with Brain Games as a project manager, game developer and event organizer. Being nominated was an exciting period of time. I’ve been working with games for seven years now, so game developing is a known process for me. One day the idea of Ice Cool was born and slowly it developed into a well-received game. Winning would be a great achievement, for which I’d be very happy. Professionally that would open more doors and give possibilities for further game development.

For further information on ChiTAG and the Rising Star Award, please visit their website:

To read about the other nominees for Rising Star of the Year Award, click on the links below:

Joyce Sprau
Thijmen de Schipper
Brady Peterson
Dominic Yard



Laura Richards

Bylines at The New York Times, The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The Boston Globe Magazine and more. Portfolio: