by Moose Toys | 20 Apr 2023
Biographies and Interviews
What are your roles and responsibilities in our industry?
David Norman: I run Moose’s game division. Our division is fortunate to get a great amount of marketing and innovation from Moose while having the flexibility to operate very entrepreneurially.
Geoff Gray: Well, I have been in the game industry for about ten minutes, haha. Nine Arches is our first game, and I think as outsiders we have the opportunity to bring a sense of wellness and a fresh approach to all areas of play - from the mechanics to marketing, to community building.
The game is an extraordinarily powerful tool, a potent weapon. Why not use it to allow players to win at life too?
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
David: I was not successfully selling Exxon oil to Alaskan fisherman after the Valdez oil spill. I knew it was time for a change to do something fun and being a big kid at heart, I thought I’d give games a shot.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Geoff: Chess is my everything. Always has been. The balance, the art, the lessons. You must attack to win, but only if everything you do is supported, your instincts are correct, your position is decent, your plan is thought through, and your execution succeeds one move at a time.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Geoff: To be challenged - truly challenged - is an honor. You have our Archers and community of doers and dreamers, who are out playing our quest cards and inspiring each other myself included. You have our team, which is on the prowl for bringing this game and others to life in meaningful ways.
So many others we know have fallen victim to corporate drift, hopscotching from one meeting to the next. I feel we are the opposite: hungry, and relentless.
What has been your biggest professional achievement?
Geoff: I’ve been lucky enough to have some wonderful moments as a writer - first getting published in the New York Times, starting as a staff writer at New York Magazine in my mid-twenties, best-selling book, awards for stories and docs, but to me Nine Arches is on the top of that list.
Geoff: It’s not about me. It’s not my story, not my sources. The game allows the player to be the hero of their own adventure story, to embark on their own experiences, and create their own unforgettable memories. For a creator and inventor, that’s hard to beat.
David, how are you utilizing your past experiences in your new role at Moose?
David: Moose gets the benefit of my memories of past mistakes and desire not to repeat them. Really, I’m just providing super talented people with some perspective which I hope empowers them to make great games.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Geoff: Ultimately, the game or toy is about a fantasy. The game is an escape, a trap door, a portal that allows us to be a different part of ourselves and push our anxieties aside. So the opportunity is ripe to create games that make your life better, games that teach real-world skills, stretch the imagination. The rise of wellness in games is encouraging, and it’s hard to imagine that in the next decade nearly every element of education will be gamified.
David, with all the games that have been presented to you, what specifically about Nine Arches caught your eye?
David: It breaks many of the rules of a traditional game. It isn’t set up to separate winners from losers. In fact it is the only game I’ve seen where everyone wins every time and wants to tell their friends about it.
What sets Moose Games apart from other potential industry partners?
Geoff: Moose is fun. Being in the office is fun. Playing and passing the Nine Arches with David and the Moose team is fun. In a way, I think that might be our team’s most important metric, our #1 KPI, north star, our corporate quarterly blah blah goal to chase. Are we having - and thus creating - experiences that are fun for others?
All the other benefits of a partner like Moose - the reach, the experience, the sourcing, the trust, and on - might very well come down to our fun factor together. For us.
Why is Moose Games the ideal partner to expand Nine Arches and its portfolio?
Geoff: Innovation is an easy word to throw around, and it takes more than a sound bite to bring new ideas and a daring game like 9A to market. From the beginning and as we move forward, Moose and David have shown us a true commitment to innovation, continue to back it up, and now we are bringing a game that goes beyond the board or screen to market.
Pinch me! Moose Games and working with David has been like a creator’s dream come true.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Geoff: As we develop a few other game concepts, we are now getting pitched ideas and it’s been incredible to our team how similar the ideas are, the same loops, same mechanics, just with different characters and titles. My advice would be…push your idea farther! What impact can you generate? Take a bigger swing, and always focus on the player first.
David: First, contact Shannon Swindle. She is exceptional at making sure all the right people see your product and that we expeditiously get back to you on our decision. Second, walk retail often. Sometimes the people who can create the next great product are the ones that know what is going on now.
David, what are you looking for in future games partners and titles?
David: Moose is about putting the “wow” into every product it makes. We don’t want something slightly different from something in the marketplace, we want to create games that make you say Wow! and that you want to play again and again.
What are you working on now?
Geoff: The second edition of Nine Arches. Top secret of course!
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