Mark Hauser - Top Trumps, Battery Farm Chickens and Other Interesting Bits
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
My favorite games through the ages were:-
As a younger child – it was Monopoly at home and Top Trumps while in the car or playground.
Throughout my teens – it was Articulate and Balderdash. I particularly loved the latter.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I kind of stumbled into it… I was looking to get into a brand-related role, and then got recommended to Winning Moves International (the European company) c/o a supposed very good personality and cultural fit. 10 years on I’m still here.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
The more exciting trends is actually a reverse of a previous concern in that more and more families, and friends of my age, seem to want to play games in their spare time. After the digital explosion a few years ago, and with the bombardment of digital media we’re exposed to, I think people are finding respite and joy in simply playing games with friends, giving a chance for meaningful connections with one another.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Enjoy life, be true to yourself, and try not to feel (or put on yourself) too much pressure to “get it right” or know what you want to do immediately. Life will evolve, and if you’re true to yourself, it will naturally evolve the way you want it to.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Without question it is watching kids play our game. The prime example of this is with our national Top Trumps Tournament in the UK… I simply LOVE watching the kids coming together from across the country, accompanied by their families (and sometimes their teachers) and seeing the kids immersing with and enjoying the game while connecting with one another. As I hold a side interest away from work in psychology and psychological development, I also love watching, and supporting, kids as they step out of their comfort zone, and learn how to deal with success and disappointment in a constructive way.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
It was my first graduate job which was in digital recruitment sales. The less said the better! I stuck with it for 6 months but it just wasn’t for me. They rang a bell at the start of the day and after lunch, at which time we had to be on the phones… I felt like a battery farm chicken! Once I left, and starting my career here in the games industry precisely 3 months before one of the worst economic recessions, I became pretty glad for some of the disciplines I’d learned, but thankfully had much more scope to be creative and do business the way I’d want to. From that recruitment experience I learned the value of enjoying your work, and letting that enjoyment be the focus of your career, something I know most of us in the games industry feel pretty blessed for.
What and/or who inspires you?
I’m inspired to simply be good; have the right intentions, be good to people, be good in my relationships; both professional and personal, be good at doing business, and to enjoy life. In terms of inspirational people, I’m a firm fan of Simon Sinek as a thought-leader and prominent speaker on how we should conduct ourselves and our business.
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I grew up in Manchester in a fairly quiet suburb with a fair amount of green space and an abundance of sport clubs. This undoubtedly influenced me to become a calm guy, definitely at my most peaceful when in and around nature, and able to play almost any sport with a ball. Being open - a messy family divorce made a permanent impact for me in ensuring I never chased money at the detriment of my or others’ well being, meanwhile a year living in Chile really helped me appreciate what I have and recognize the value of the relationships and experiences we have in life over any material possessions.
(Mark a few years back!)
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
It’s hard to pick just one! J Wearing faux leather trousers as a late teen has to be up there. What did I learn from it? – Don’t wear anything which resembles leather trousers.
What do you read every day, and why?
I get a daily update from a trio of psychology magazines and blogs each day which I’ll always read in the evening, and I also receive a dose of daily inspiration from Simon Sinek which is always a nice little thought provoker.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
This has to be my headphones. They are the one thing protecting the world from my horrendously unfiltered musical taste. The also give me my personal space on the tube which can be a cherished commodity in London!
How do you jumpstart your creativity when you find yourself stalled on a project?
I stop thinking about it and let my unconscious work at it. I’ll also try and go somewhere spacious in nature, void of sensory bombardment, and allocate the space to “not think” about things.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I honestly laugh at work daily. I work with the nicest bunch of colleagues one could wish for. Led from the top by our CEO – Tom Liddell… we try not to take life too seriously.
Do you have any kiddos?
Do you have any pets?
None, but would dearly love a Bernese Mountain Dog. London isn’t quite the ideal home for them however.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Disney music, musicals and romantic comedies
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
I played the violin to a really high standard as a kid and have since started playing the guitar.
What’s your favorite cereal?
Home-made granola – surprisingly easy to make!
What’s the first thing you usually notice about people?
Their eyes and body language.
What is your eye color?
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings without question.
Summer of Winter?
I live in the UK – what’s the difference?
Hugs or Kisses?
What’s your favorite TV show?
I don’t typically watch too much TV, but the one show which I have managed to get hooked on this last year is Suits.
Favorite movie of all time?
Ah crikes… Love Actually / Finding Nemo / Downfall / The Notebook… depends on my mood at the time.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
Easter Island, a couple hours off the coast of Chile. Pretty amazing place, I decided to come here for a few days while I was living in Chile. Ironically it is also the only time I’ve had my luggage lost by an airline (with flights to the island only every 3 days!)
Do you have any special talents?
You’d probably need to ask those who know me.
What are your hobbies?
Sport: soccer / tennis / golf, theatre, singing, playing music, reading, and yoga.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I hope it never fully happens J
I’m hoping “next” is the continued growth of Top Trumps in the US and Canada. The game has been around so long in the UK and wherever it is introduced and played, it seems to be loved. This is happening in the US, and the pace of it is accelerating quite drastically, but as a relatively lean operation, and with so much to do, we need to make sure we’re doing the right things and doing them well.