Alex Mackey on Greg Louganis, Sundance, Target, Lethal Chickens and More!
What do you do in the industry?
I’m part of a two-man company. So we make games, but wear WAY too many hats.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
I’m not sure I have a claim to fame yet as I’ve only been in the industry for a little over a year, but we’ve made a couple of games and our first one was a 2019 Toy of the Year Finalist. I nearly passed out when I read that email!!
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
My background is the film and television industry. I had recently moved from Los Angeles to Orlando when I found myself heading down to Fort Myers as a volunteer to help with Hurricane Irma cleanup. I shared a tent with my neighbor after chain-sawing trees all day. He’s an avid gamer and has a brilliant mind for game mechanics. I was telling him about a script I’d written and he said, “We could turn that into a game.” We stayed up until about 3AM fleshing it out and by morning we had the concept of What The Film?! We worked on the game for the next several months and eventually formed the company, Lethal Chicken Games.
What are you working on now?
Right now we have three games in development. We can play all three of them and are to the point where we can’t break them. Next up is artwork and play testing! The other thing that takes up the other half of our time is trying to grow our distribution for our first two games.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
Excite: CHITAG 2019
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Are you bringing me a problem or solution? Never bring just the problem. Always think through a possible solution even if it’s not a very good one.
What does your typical day look like?
I will generally work from about 8am to 1pm on my business partner’s dining room table. Then its pick up kids and help with homework from 3pm to 9pm. I’m back to work in my home office from 9pm to 2 or 3am. I don’t sleep much and I like to work.
What’s your workspace setup like?
During the day it’s Mike’s dining room table. I have an office in California but I live in Florida. So I don’t go in that much. It’s a long story. At night, it’s my home office. I have a Stormtrooper and an Imperial Guard in the corner keeping guard.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love creating. When I come out with a new product, I feel super accomplished.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?
I’ve had several “worst jobs” mostly while still in high school. My first was ripping the tops off of corn in Iowa. I was 14, scrawny, shorter than the corn and allergic to it. I lasted three days before I got fired.
I worked on the Smucker’s assembly line and was told, “You could never be a factory worker,” because I was working too quickly and efficiently. That lasted three days. They were right.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
Balancing creating and business. Ultimately we are trying to solve expanding into a wider array of stores (so if you know anyone that can help…please drop me a line!)
What and/or who inspires you?
Success inspires me. I love seeing others succeed and studying out what made them the best at what they do.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Binge watch. My latest is Imposters. Great show!
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Blocks! I loved to build all sorts of things. Then Star Wars came out and that dominated my toy life from 1977 until … well, now I suppose.
Where were you born?
South Carolina. But I’ve lived most of my life in southern California.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I’ve lived in 11 states and 2 countries: South Carolina, California, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maryland, Utah, Ohio, Florida, Chile and Mexico. Moving so much as a kid forced me to be more extroverted than I would have otherwise been. It also helped me know at a very young age where I wanted to live when I was on my own. Y hablo Español aunque soy mas gringo que ocho.
What do you read every day, and why?
I read the scriptures every day. It keeps me grounded when things are going well and gives me hope when things aren’t.
Do you have any kiddos?
I have three boys, 14, 11 and my youngest would be nine this year, but passed away when he was a baby.
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which one(s)?
Piano. In high school I played Bassoon, Cymbals, Bass Drum and Triangle.
What is your eye color?
Do you prefer scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings. Or Tim Burton.
Summer of Winter?
Summer, summer, summer, 1 week of skiing and back to summer. I’m happy with a single season.
Hugs or Kisses?
Kisses – the dark chocolate with almonds kind.
What’s your favorite TV show?
The Goldbergs. Adam Goldberg and I must be about the same age, both nerdy and both love film so it really resonates. I also love The Middle.
What is your favorite night out?
I love going to Broadway shows. I could live at the theater.
Favorite movie of all time?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Followed closely by Little Shop of Horrors.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?
I lived in Chile for a couple of years.
Do you have any special talents?
I can play the piano by ear. I am a springboard diver. I can do a reverse one and a half with a half twist from the 3M. It looks really cool. You can call me Big Fat Diver and I’ll respond.
What’s your beverage of choice?
Monster is my vice in all of it’s sugar-free and probably lethal variations.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a kid, my answer to this was always, “Rich!” I’ve had a bit of career ADHD over the years. But I love to create. That’s the bottom line.
Everyday life feels very ordinary (in a good way.) Get kids ready, make dinner, take out the trash, help with homework, get some work done, etc. But as I step back and look at the opportunities I’ve had over the course of my life, I’ve really had some very cool experiences with my career(s). I released a CD/Album of piano music, I created a line of trading cards, I produced a movie that got into Sundance, I got Greg Louganis to coach me in diving at 40+ years old, I wrote a book (about diving with Greg Louganis) and now I have a game on the shelf at Target. I hope this doesn’t come across as brag-y, because individually I worked hard at each one of these and maybe didn’t always realize the significance at the time. But as I step back and look at things collectively, it makes me feel happy that I have great stories I can tell my kids when they’re old enough to actually care what dad has to say.
Three new games! I want to spill the beans on all of them, but my business partner would kill me. And he’s bigger than me.