Valentine’s Day this past February was extra sweet for Dale “Rusty” Russell from Drumright, Okla. – his 24-year-old invention was launched as a Smartphone app: Domino Roll*Out. The Legionnaire has persevered since 1988 to make the game successful in effort to accomplish his mission of supporting veterans in need.
Roll*Out originated when Russell and a friend were playing dominoes. With a few dominoes upright, Russell grabbed a set of dice from a Yahtzee box and rolled a seven. He then laid down a standing seven domino, and “that’s how the game was born,” Russell said.
Before it reached the mobile market game craze, Domino Roll*Out got under way as a board game, followed by a floppy disc version. The board game has been in the hands of troops serving in the Gulf War to presidents in the White House.
The American Legion recently spoke with Russell to understand how Roll*Out operates, and his intentions with its monetary success — supporting veterans.
Q: How did you market the Domino Roll*Out board game?
A: In 1991, during the Gulf War, I designed an Operation Desert Shield logo that went on the red felt where you rolled the dice to flip down dominoes. I lived in Kansas at the time and belonged to a group called the Kansas Association of Inventors, and Sen. Bob Dole was the chairman of it. I spoke with Senator Dole and together we sent 500 of the games to troops in Kuwait.
I also sent the game, along with a cover letter, to both President George Bush Sr. and Jr. And every cover letter that I sent I wrote in bold letters, “Without veterans, where would America be?” I received responses from Bush Sr. and other (government officials) that I sent it to, thanking me for the game. But the game was soon put on the back burner for many years because I didn’t have the money to keep producing it.
Q: How were you able to bring the game back to the market?
A: I brought the game back out last October with a partner and an investor from Colorado. We took a CD-ROM version of the game to Zco Corporation in New Hampshire, and they revamped it, tweaked it, and it is absolutely beautiful.
I have lived and breathed Roll*Out all these years, so I guided Zco on every little detail on how I wanted the game done. I wanted it done, even though I’m not a gambler, in Vegas style. It’s a fun, unique game. There is nothing out there like it.
Q: How does the game work?
A: It’s a game of chance. There are 12 dominoes and each domino has a numeric value. The object of the game is to eliminate dominoes from the playing field by rolling the dice, and each roll of the dice can take away dominoes equal in numeric value to that role. For example, a dice roll of eight can remove either the eight domino, the seven and one, the six and two, etc. The way dominoes are removed from the playing field depends on the scoring method used – Vegas or standard.
When playing Vegas style, the dominos fall automatically. With the standard version, the player has to touch the screen on the domino they want to fall. Both versions require the dice to be rolled by shaking the mobile device used. The overall goal of the game is to earn fake money by placing bets on the dots that you think will be remaining when the game is over.
Q: Why has the focus of this game always been about veterans?
A: Ever since I served in Vietnam I have been helping veterans as much as I can. What really got that going was when I had to escort the body of one of my best hometown buddies home from Vietnam. I have gone to the store to buy groceries for veterans who didn’t have food, and I’ve had veterans stay in my home when they had no place to go. I try to do what I can.
Q: How will most of the financial success with the app will be shared with veterans?
A: This game is not about me. Yes, I want to make money, I think anybody would. But my primary objective with that money – no matter how big or small it might be – is to help other veterans, be it individuals or organizations helping veterans. If I succeed with this game, which I intend on doing, that frees me up to make the necessary donations to the veterans and organizations, like the Legion, that I want to donate to.
I tell people, ‘I’m not claiming that I have the next Nintendo®. But who is to say that I don’t?’ With the game craze in the mobile market today, I’m comfortable knowing that my app will be successful and my mission will be completed: helping veterans.
Domino Roll*Out is available for $1.99 on both the iTunes App Store for use with an iPhone or iPad, and for Android users. Watch a video of how the game is played here. For further information, visit www.dominorollout.com.