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Pursuit of happiness at London's Big Viking Games

Be happy: it’s a work day.

It may be an odd idea to some people, but the staff at Big Viking Games are encouraged to be happy.

They get free meals, activities, special coffees and general fun and, now, there’s even someone in charge of it: a happiness coordinator.

Last week, with help from the City of London’s Hire One campaign, the downtown video games company added Jacqueline Malison to its staff. It’s her job to make everyone happy and, with 50 staff to smile for, it’s a big task.

“One of our primary values here at Big Viking is to create fun at work and have happy employees,” said company co-founder Greg Thomson.

“We recognize that, in order to attract people to London and have talented employees, we need a work environment that’s fun.

“We want people to want to show up to work and have the best possible environment to work in.”

So there are afternoon snacks, free breakfast and lunch and frappuccino lattes in the mornings. The fridge is stacked with pop and the laughs keep coming.

To celebrate the spirit of athletes in Sochi, Big Viking staff staged their own office Olympics last week. Events included a ring toss, wheelbarrow race and a brain freeze challenge, racing to drink slush made with the office’s own slush machine.

And the happiness coordinator is there to, well, coordinate all that happiness. She organizes the events and comes up with ideas.

The Big Viking mission statement includes the phrase “create fans,” said Thomson.

“That means two things to us,” he explained. “We do want fans of the games but we really want people to be fans of the company.”

Over at the London Economic Development Corporation, interim general manager Kapil Lakhotia is glad to see companies like Big Viking growing.

“Big Viking Games is a valuable addition to our growing cluster of digital interactive game development companies in London," said Lakhotia.

So he’s happy, too. Let’s give the credit to the happiness coordinator.

A Big Viking that’s growing

Based at the corner of Wellington and King streets downtown, Big Viking Games was founded in 2011, when it had four people.

It now has about 50 staff in London and Toronto, developing free-to-play social and mobile games that are online, on Facebook and on mobile devices.

They include Tiny Kingdoms, Dark Heroes and Fish World.

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