by Chris Schroeck | 18 Feb 2023
Biographies and Interviews
What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
I’m a designer, creator, and design leader. I create new toys and games and, with the help of some very talented people, bring these ideas to life!
What was your biggest failure?
Probably being an engineer! :D
I started my undergraduate degree in HVAC engineering, studying thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanics. During my senior year of undergrad, I enrolled in a course that allowed me to redesign toys for children with cerebal palsy, build the toys, and then donate them to children in the community. This absolutely changed my life. I finished my degree in design engineering, went to graduate school in industrial design, and I have chasing product designs that provide joy and nourish the soul ever since.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I began in the toy industry working for McDonald’s in the Happy Meal program. I was working for a company that designed and produced Happy Meal toys for the Latin America and Australian markets. Having created several successful programs, the company was given an opportunity to pitch for a US Happy Meal. After numerous rounds of reviews, 2 of my designs made it through and were mass produced as a Happy Meal for children all over the United States (Snoopy Gondola Happy Meal toy image above). I was hooked at the thrill of creation, moving through the various phases of design, and bringing a concept from a clean sheet of paper to a thing that creates memories for children. I continue to chase this feeling and enjoy every one of the projects I have had the pleasure of working on - crafting each detail to provide enjoyment, surprise, and wonder for children all over the world.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently leading the Design and Development team at small company that produces tabletop and digital tabletop games (my latest game is above).
If you look back at yourself 10 years ago is this where you thought you’d be? Where did you think you’d be? What changed? What went right?
10 years ago I had just completed my graduate degree in Industrial Design and was in an exploratory phase of my career. With an interest in furniture design, as well as UI/UX design, I had pursued several projects working in these areas. While I truly enjoyed working on these projects, I felt as though something was missing. After several years, I found my way back to toys working at Playmonster (Automoblox image above). While there I began designing tabletop games and found I was able to fuse my interests in graphic design, 3D design, and delivering fun and engaging experiences for children of all ages. All in all, it was a long road back to toys but I learned a wide variety of design and leadership skills in those other industries that have made me a much better design leader working in toys.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love to see people playing with and enjoying the products I have worked on.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I have been enjoying camping over the last 5-6 years and have found that spending a weekend out in nature, really recharges me and helps keep things in perspective
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
I have so many favorites, but I have to say the most influential toys and games in my life were the Dinobot Transformers and Dungeons & Dragons.
Where were you born?
I was born in a small town on the border of Chicago called Oak Park. It was a fantastic place to grow up full of creative people, great opportunities for sports and music, excellent libraries and all of this shared public transit with the city of Chicago. As my parents were both teachers, we had a lot of time in the summers to go to festivals in many of the neighborhoods in Chicago, summer theater, concerts, museums, and engage with the city. Also, I got to see Michael Jordan play basketball, so that was a huge bonus! :D
Do you have any pets?
1 little rescue pup I’ve had for nearly 8 years. He’s adorable, full of energy, has 1 white paw, and loves to run, hike, and play fetch!
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
I play the violin and the drums and studied music composition.
What’s your favorite cereal?
There are so many to choose from but the one I come back to most often is a mix of cocoa puffs and peanut butter captain crunch. I know there is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs cereal, but I love the ability to mix the peanut butter and chocolate levels based on the day I expect to have. Plus, the chocolate milk at the end is a great way to start the day!
The toy and game industry clearly has….
Some truly awesome people. I have met many, many great people in my career - talented, smart, and passionate people that all want to make really awesome products.
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