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Frank Acosta

By Aramis Khorso

Six years ago, Navy veteran Fred Acosta created a children’s card game called Red Light Green Light. His invention would, in the following years, go on to sell on an international scale. 

The 76-year-old game inventor claimed that the secret to creating successful children’s games is “to have a good sense of humor.” He has been inventing all sorts of innovations for roughly 40 years with his brother, Nick Acosta. Both of the brothers were born in Brooklyn where they were raised. They eventually both served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War — Fred in the Navy and his brother in the Marines. 

Fred Acosta shared how tight-knit he and his brother are. Acosta explained how he and his brother are “partners” in almost everything. 

It seems that being an inventor runs through Fred Acosta’s blood. His father and both his brothers all share the common passion of innovating creations. According to Acosta, this familial talent hadn’t manifested itself until after he and his brother served in the Vietnam War. “When you’re an inventor, you’re an inventor 24/7,” Acosta said. “You’re always looking for something to improve upon.” 

When Acosta returned home from the war, he got married, had a family and in 1981 moved to Port Jefferson. Acosta didn’t start making games officially until he was 36. “When you’ve got a family, you have to support them,” he said. Acosta outlined the various struggles he faced in pursuit of his passion: “An inventor can’t make money unless he sells an idea — it’s very hard, you’d be surprised.”

In respect to his game Red Light Green Light, Acosta admitted that he thought the key to the success of his game was because of its design carefully catered toward children. “It’s very popular because it’s extremely simple,” he said. “It’s also quick, so kids don’t get bored playing it.” The inspiration for the impressively rated game “just came” to Acosta who explained his spark of inspiration by saying “I’m a natural inventor.” Red Light Green Light has stunning reviews on Amazon and can be found at Kohl’s and Walmart. 

While making a nice profit, it seems the success of Acosta’s creation carries a more sentimental reward for him. After many years of inventing games and dealing with the struggles a profession such as his brings, success is something heavy with importance for him. 

“We’re in our 70s and we’re selling card games, you know?” said Acosta, referring to his brother and himself. “You’re never too old to create something successful.” Acosta is not only a game creator but he has also invented all sorts of different gadgets, some artwork and even done graphic designing. 

Now, Acosta lives with his large family of three children and nine grandchildren in Port Jefferson. Even after his big success, Acosta is pursuing his passion and intends on creating more games in the future. He said he still previews his game inventions with his grandchildren before the games are sent out into the market.