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By Joyce Johnson,


Joyce Johnson Designs, Inc.

I am a kid at heart and I believe every person has a child within them, wanting to play or laugh or have a good time. My path as a game designer has been a heartfelt experience. I feel great joy in my heart when I license a game. I’ve been known to cry when my box of game samples arrive. I save every note I have received from a child, a parent, a grandparent, a teacher – thanking me for a game or for a play test. My supportive husband, Tim, will enthusiastically take my picture as I stand next to one of my games on a store shelf. Yes, I love what I do.

The mission in my work is to bring joy and laughter to the world. Although that mission may be occurring as my games are sold in many countries, the truth is my work brings joy and laughter to me.

As I reflect on the last decade, I have three thoughts to pass along to anyone considering a career in the toy industry. This may come as no great surprise (based on what you have already read here) but my First Thought is FOLLOW YOUR HEART. Find what you love to do within this constantly changing industry and do it with all of your heart. You may start with a toy (like I did) and end up falling in love with games. You may start with a game and end up making toys. You may start creating both and find that puzzles are your calling. Wherever you begin and wherever you go, Follow Your Heart because your heart will lead you to your joy.

My Second Thought is PERSIST. The toy industry is full of many twists and turns. It is constantly changing and if you can find your place along the sometimes curvy road, you will succeed. Persistence sometimes requires digging deep within, when one more rejection seems like one more too many. Always remember, when one door closes, there is always another waiting to open. You must be standing at the next door so that you can walk through it. If you give up, there is no opportunity to pursue. No dream for you to make come true.

I had the amazing good fortune of licensing my co-invented game, In A Pickle, very quickly into the industry. That immediate “green light” lit my path very brightly. Many published games and awards have followed of which I am deeply proud. Along that path, there have been many joys and of course, the painful disappointments. The ability to persist through the setbacks has taken me to a higher level as a game designer and as a person. I have never been a person to shy away from personal growth and grow, I have.

My Third Thought is COLLABORATE. Realize quickly that every product that makes it to the shelf is the result of a tremendous amount of time, dedication and hard work by a vast number of people. – Talented individuals working together or toward the common goal to create a product that will sell and be enjoyed by its ultimate owner. The toy industry is full of amazing and talented individuals. Meet them. Get to know them. Create relationships. Learn. Realize that everyone has his or her strengths in life. Embrace those strengths. In life, we are not meant to be alone. In the toy industry, nothing is achieved alone.

No matter where you go in this industry, may you always FOLLOW YOUR HEART and PERSIST with your goals while you COLLABORATE with others to make your dreams come true! Good luck!

(November 2012)

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