Leah Hoyer, VP of Creative on the new Wizards Kids Studio

Leah Hoyer‘s new gig main a kid-focused initiative at Wizards of the Coast has been a “dream come true.”

“In many ways, this feels like the position my entire career has been leading up to,” she stated. “It feels like a chance to inspire a lifetime love of games in a new generation of players. Getting to help shape the way we do that is a real dream come true.”

Hoyer is a recreation and leisure trade vet who was not too long ago named VP of Creative for the brand new Wizards Kids Studio. Her resume contains stints at Disney, Microsoft, ArenaWeb, Telltale Games, Bungie, and most not too long ago at Seattle cell growth studio Level Headed Games as CEO and founder.

Renton, Wash.-based Wizards of the Coast develops two of the preferred video games in geek tradition. Dungeons and Dragons has dominated the role-playing recreation market since 1974 and Magic: The Gathering has comparable fame within the collectible card recreation style.

While each might be loved by children, they aren’t the goal demographic. That’s why Wizards of the Coast not too long ago launched a brand new studio aimed to design new tasks focused instantly at children.

Hoyer and Wizards of the Coast veteran Elaine Chase are the one two workforce members on the studio. Hoyer stated her place might be “lots of ideation” for the primary yr.

“We need to find that special idea that we think will have the impact we hope for,” she stated. “We have some starting points, but we are really early in this process.”

Creative storytelling has been the main target of Hoyer’s profession. She spent eight years at Disney overseeing the creation and manufacturing of children’ tv programming together with fashionable exhibits Kim Possible and Phineas and Ferb. An expertise engaged on an interactive attraction on the Epcot Center sparked her curiosity in video games.

“That project made something click for me,” she stated. “I realized that, while I loved being part of telling stories to kids, the idea that I could craft a story with a player was amazing.”

Hoyer made the swap to the online game trade in 2012 the place she jumped right into a publishing position at Microsoft that allowed her to see a number of elements of video games come collectively. In that place, she labored on all kinds of tasks with a few of the trade’s greatest studios akin to Insomniac Games and Remedy Entertainment.

Screenshot from Batman: The Enemy Within. (Telltale Games)

Since then, she’s labored at Seattle space studios Bungie and ArenaWeb. Hoyer additionally spent two years because the VP of Creative for Telltale Games, an expertise she considers one of many highlights of her profession, particularly engaged on Batman: The Enemy Within.

“The passion at [Telltale] was incredible,” she stated. “The games, while not always easy to make, were crafted so well. That game studio believed in the power of storytelling at its core, and the characters and story moments really shone because of it.”

Hoyer hopes she may also help to realize the identical sort of ardour at Wizards Kids Studio and construct a various tradition from day one. It’s a objective that’s not a shock as Hoyer has been a champion for growing range within the online game trade. She’s inspired by the progress that’s been made in that space, however stated there’s nonetheless a methods to go.

“I’ve often been the only woman in leadership team meetings at studios,” she stated. “That is less common these days, though, which is a good sign.”

Hoyer stated Wizards Kids Studio will construct its workforce slowly and thoroughly, solely planning to have a small workforce at first. “The team is the number one priority. Having great teammates around you is the only way to get it all done,” she stated.

While the Wizards Kids Studio is in its very early phases, Wizards of the Coast continues to increase upon its core properties. More than 20 Dungeons and Dragons merchandise had been launched in 2020, together with standalone adventures, expansions, and even a comic book e book crossover with Stranger Things. Meanwhile, Magic: The Gathering noticed the discharge of three bodily expansions this yr in addition to continuous updates to MTG Arena, the web model of the sport.