Catherine Thoms

Catherine Thoms

Behind the Curtain with Ackerly Green: Office Magic

One day last week I came into work to find that CJ had kicked off his shoes and was waving his phone around in the air like a crazy person. If I hadn’t seen the Wizards Unite Discussion thread blowing up on the forum earlier in the morning, I might have actually been concerned. Instead, it was just a regular Thursday in the office. “You have to download it,” he said, holding his phone up to scan the shelf above my desk for traces of magic. “This is what we’re doing today.”

My boss is telling me to sit down and play a Harry Potter iPhone game? And there are still chocolate-covered pretzels in the office? Well, all right then, don’t have to tell me twice.

This is the kind of anecdote I like to tell people when they ask what goes on in the Ackerly Green office, because it highlights the freedom and the silliness and the everyday magic that fuels this world of wonder we’re building for you, our readers. But behind the silliness, or maybe concurrent with it, is a whole other kind of magic that no one but us ever sees.

And that, my friends, is the magic of business.

Just kidding! (Kind of.)

You see, while we’re waiting for Confoundables to pop up on our maps, our brains are also simultaneously firing in a dozen different directions. We’re updating product descriptions on the website, brainstorming new types of ads to run, trying to figure out how in the world Pixel code works, and then on top of that, we’re also taking notes on how Wizards Unite has managed to combine both new and familiar elements of a well-loved universe to provide a brand new interactive narrative. 

It’s not all fun and games, but the best part about working on a truly boundless creative endeavor like this is that inspiration is everywhere, especially in fun and games. Something as seemingly mindless as scrolling through Twitter or Instagram can actually provide a wealth of inspiration: for methods of storytelling and connecting with readers, or even just for seeing what people are talking about and what gets people talking. 

We may be joking when we call playing around on our phones “research,” but there’s definitely some truth to it. Our overachieving brains might always feel a little lazy letting ourselves just play around, but more often than not, the games and distractions we’re most drawn to end up being weirdly relevant to the work that we’re doing. 

There’s a kind of magic in the way that two people with very little (zero) business background can somehow manage to run a company, and that magic comes from the fact that our creative brains are always on the lookout for how we can adapt what we know and love to what will make our work successful. It’s wonderful and thrilling and a little bit overwhelming and exhausting from time to time, but there’s nothing like it anywhere else and that’s what makes it so incredibly special. 

If you’re reading this, you likely already know what exactly makes this place feel special. In fact, you could probably even explain it better than I could, because it would be from your own personal experience as a reader. And if you ever feel so inclined, we would love to hear what makes your Ackerly Green experience magical. Until then, I just thought you’d enjoy imagining CJ playing Wizards Unite in the office with no shoes on. Also, share your friend code.