Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thank you for joining us for another interview with one of our MCA honorees. Today we were able to interview Chris Schroeck, Senior Director of Ultra PRO Entertainment. Ultra PRO Entertainment is the company responsible for the Mom’s Choice Award-winning game, Burger Academy! Burger Academy is such a fun game that requires skills including coordination and planning that make it a perfect addition to any game night. Keep reading to find out more about Chris and his company’s award-winning game, Burger Academy!
MCA: Hi Chris, congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award! Burger Academy is a great game that the whole family can enjoy. Can we first start the interview by finding out a little bit about yourself?
Chris: I’m the Senior Director of Ultra PRO Entertainment and I’m a kid at heart who loves to create toys and games that enable both children and adults to have fun while spending quality time together. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed developing many products from Happy Meal toys to Star Wars action figures. All of my experience in the toy and game industry has made me an ideal leader to bring Ultra PRO Entertainment to the next level by bringing award-winning games like Burger Academy to market.
MCA: Tell us about the creation of Ultra PRO Entertainment!
Chris: For nearly 70 years Ultra PRO International has been the leader in providing quality collectible accessories worldwide. With innovations in every category of hobby gaming accessories, Ultra PRO sets the bar for what it means to be a player and collector. In 2016 Ultra PRO channeled that passion for gaming and launched a tabletop gaming division, Ultra PRO Entertainment, with original publications and acquisitions of popular studios such as Playroom Entertainment.
MCA: What needs were trying to be filled when creating Burger Academy?
Chris: We have a broad range of fun educational games that we have developed over the years and children enjoy them, but see them as educational games. We saw a unique opportunity in the marketplace for fun games that educate – where the educational aspect is hidden behind the facade of a fun, strategic game! With the cute burger theme, squishy pieces, beautiful artwork, and little fry tokens, Burger Academy is definitely that game!
MCA: Burger Academy is definitely that game! It is so cute and unique, and I must say makes me hungry just looking at it.
Chris: We partnered with board game designer Jeppe Norsker, who is known for his ability to develop games that are both educational and fun to play. Knowing that coding is now an essential skill that kids are learning, Norsker brought the game to Ultra PRO Entertainment to help kids learn coding through the experience of playing a board game. The team playtested the game with parents, educators, and of course kids to ensure the game exceeded expectations.
MCA: Why is it so important for you to make educational games fun for kids? Can you tell us about the research that went behind Burger Academy’s unique features?
Chris: One of the coolest things about kids is how shamelessly they seek good feelings. They are learning about the world, one interaction at a time, and they learn quickly that they prefer fun interactions over all else. Ultra PRO Entertainment understands that engaging children with fun mechanics and eye-catching components are the perfect environment for a good lesson. It lends to the phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility,” when designing educational games. We have the power to create meaningful experiences for children and families, and the more fun they have, the more likely they are to continue playing and learning.
MCA: What has the feedback been like for Burger Academy?
Chris: Burger Academy is quickly becoming a favorite among children, educators, and parents. People are drawn to the playful burger theme, then are surprised and engaged by the depth of the mechanics. Families love how easy it is to enjoy Burger Academy with the whole family. The picnic aesthetic and basic coding are engaging for children, while also offering higher difficulty situations for more mature players.
MCA: What is next for Burger Academy?
Chris: We would love for even more families to play Burger Academy! Among our next steps, we are looking at bringing Burger Academy to mass market retail within the next couple of years. We are also planning to work with global partners to translate Burger Academy to other languages and introduce it to global markets.
MCA: Sounds like we’ll be seeing big things from Burger Academy and Ultra PRO Entertainment!
You can learn more about Chris Schroeck and his award-winning game, Burger Academy by visiting his MCA Shop pages.