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Durham Man's Capital Idea is More Than Just Fun and Games

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DURHAM — If you like playing board games, but just don't have time to play anymore, here is a solution. A Durham man invented a way you can play your favorite games on the Internet for just a minute a day.

Playing games on the computer is all the rage now, and Patrick Chu's Internet invention takes playing old-fashioned board games to a whole new level.

"We have cutting-edge technology that even some very large web sites don't have the expertise to do," says Chu.

His web site is calledIt's Your Turn. What's different about this technology is that you don't have to stay online with another person to play a game of chess or backgammon.

Instead, you can simply invite someone to play. Every time a move is made, the other person gets an e-mail saying it's their turn.

Games can last a day or a month. But it doesn't seem like it.

"I never play real-time because I don't have time to play games," says Chu. "[It's more] like I have 30 seconds here and there that I can just make a move."

Chu actually has a degree in philosophy fromDuke University. He's combined that background with his expertise in handling large computer databases to develop a personal touch to this otherwise impersonal world.

"It's about the people. It's giving them a different context in which to interact," says Chu.

The games are more about socializing than strategy.

"I mean we don't replace chat rooms, we don't replace message boards. We're just something different and we just happen to be the only ones like this on the Internet," says Chu.

Patrick Chu rolled the dice less than a year ago and took a chance his database design would work.

He used his savings from consulting jobs he did in Silicon Valley to hire two of his college friends, buy computer equipment and start the company out of his Durham home.

They're quickly finding they're not the only ones who like the idea.

"We get about 150 to 200 new people a day just completely by word of mouth. We do no advertising at all," says Chu.

So far, 25,000 people from 50 different countries have signed up to play on It's Your Turn.

Chess is the most popular game, but they do have others such as checkers, backgammon, Othello and a game similar to Battleship.

The computer won't allow any illegal moves, so there's no cheating.


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