Meet Davin Risk, Play Designer Extraordinaire

-What do you do?

I’m a play designer for Sago Mini, which means I get to be an advocate for kids in the design and development of our apps. Our goals culminate with a kid’s fingers on a screen and a look of delight on their face. My role is to foster that delight, remove barriers to kids’ enjoyment, and help them shape their own play and storytelling experiences.

-What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I had early exposure to computers and I was hugely fascinated by Star Wars and other science fiction. The sense that what computers could do was intrinsic to the fabric of life around the characters of science fiction led me to want to work with computers. By high school, I was convinced that I would go on to become a computer programmer. I signed up for typing instead of art class because I assumed programmers would need good typing skills. I dropped typing after three classes, took art instead, and went on to get a fine art degree.

-What can't you live without?

Nature. There are many other things that I have a passion for, but simply being in a field, forest, desert, jungle or garden sustains me in ways that are hard to count.

-Who do you admire most?

My partner, Gayla Trail, inspires me with her passion to learn, discover, experiment and communicate her passion with others.

-What is your idea of fun?

One time we were on a road trip through Arizona and California. It was off-season and the high for the day was around 46°C (115°F). We drove to an area called Algodones Dunes, where the sparse scrubby desert of eastern California suddenly turns into a seemingly endless series of rolling sand dunes. We parked and walked across the dunes in the deep heat. Coming over the crest of one large dune, I realized I could spin around and have no sense of what direction I had come from. That’s my idea of fun.

-Favorite toy growing up?

LEGO. I would augment the bricks, panels, wheels and figures with parts from other toys — like small motors that I pulled out of slot cars. LEGO was the glue for a lot of my very young friendships as well.

-The best thing about kids is …

Everything is new to them. They are actively discovering, learning, growing and filled with wonder as their “job.”

-Sago Mini is magical because …

We work for kids.

-Would you travel to outer space if you could? Why or why not?

Given no earthly constraints, I would love to travel deep into space and see the phenomena, various planet surfaces, the vastness of everything beyond our little place firsthand. Bonus points if the travel is instant and I could do all these things without wearing a bulky space suit.

-Best advice?

Try things. Cook a meal, grow a plant, draw something, fix something, walk as far as you can, look up random things on Wikipedia and then look up things you find there, travel, travel more, read, read more.

-Where did you grow up?

I was born in Toronto, but I spent most of my childhood in a small town near Ottawa called Carleton Place. I always felt like the city kid there but now I have many happy memories of being surrounded by fields, forests and water. The river that runs through town is called the Mississippi but, no, it’s not that Mississippi.

-Best childhood memory?

Bests are hard. Especially choosing one moment from childhood. Here’s one: My mom and I lived in Mexico briefly when I was still quite young. I have this distinct memory of wearing a snorkelling mask and sort of crawling into the waves on all fours when a large crab scuttled right up to the glass of the mask. I jumped and ran, but it was still amazing.

PS. Davin's an amazing artist in his own right. See more of his mixed-media pieces here.

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