Hasbro’s Tanya Thompson on what she looks for when meeting inventors
Don’t Step In It, Peeing Pup, The Slow Motion Race; Hasbro is on a roll when it comes to launching great games from the inventor community.
We caught up with the firm’s director of global product acquisition for games, Tanya Thompson, to find out what makes for a great Hasbro game…
Hi Tanya! So let’s start at the beginning, how did you embark on a career in the world of toys and games?
I’ve always been passionate about play. I started my work life as a high school math (or as you say maths) teacher and used games and puzzles in my classroom to inspire my students in this subject I love. I saw the benefits of play first-hand and started teaching other teachers how to do the same.
In your role as Director of Global Product Acquisition for Games, you see so many ideas from so many inventors. What are you looking for when meeting inventors and what makes for a great Hasbro game?
I’m looking for passion and creativity. I’m looking to be surprised with something magical I’ve never seen before. And since I evaluate so many concepts each year, this isn’t always easy to do.
At Hasbro we know that games bring families and friends of all ages and generations together for fun, meaningful social interactions. While content-driven games are popular for adults looking to have a laugh together, millennials are playing classic games, such as Jenga and Connect 4, in coffee shops and other social settings.
Entertainment properties, such as Stranger Things, have allowed us to introduce new versions of traditional games while making games like Dungeons & Dragons mainstream. Action games (board games with a toy component to them) are also very popular for families who are looking for simple-to-understand games that allow them to spend quality face-to-face time together as they play.
Our goal is to consistently provide families and friends with gaming experiences that are not only fun to play with, but also fun to watch and share. We are constantly monitoring and analyzing new trends to determine how we can incorporate them into the gaming aisle in the future.
And just to give readers a sense of what you look for, can you talk us through a recent Hasbro game that has come from the inventor community, and why it proved a good fit?
I’ve licensed a record number of games from inventors in the last couple of years. Don’t Step In It has been a great success. This game is based in the fact that everyone can relate to not stepping in dog poop at the park so it’s simple to understand and a lot of fun to play. It also broke frame as you play with play dough with your feet rather than your hands, which was something new on the market.
How often is it a “love at first sight” moment with ideas, or is usually a process of development with inventors to get concepts to a standard that puts it in contention for licensing?
Depends on the idea. Sometimes it’s exactly right as it comes in but more often there’s a lot of development that happens between our external partner and our external teams to bring it to market.
Why does the inventor community remain so important to Hasbro?
Outside innovation is extremely important to Hasbro and we take great pride in our legacy of working with professional inventors, as well as companies and consumers, to bring the world’s best play experiences to life. You never know where the next big idea is going to come from!
And finally, what do you love best about your role at Hasbro?
I honestly feel I have the best job in the world. I love travelling the world to connect with inventors and innovators. I am honoured when they share their best creative ideas with me as a potential new Hasbro game. The creativity they bring is outstanding and I’m proud that I call many of them my friends.
Thank you so much Tanya!
To stay in the loop with the latest news, interviews and features from the world of toy and game design, sign up to our weekly newsletter here