Meet the team: Mike Hawkyard
How long have you worked for OS?
I started at OS in March 2021 and have been training for this role even for many years – wandering around town picking up Pokémon, rummaging through bushes for geocaches, and competing badly for segments at Strava.
My professional background is in the gaming industry. In 1999 my business partner showed me a simple game he had created that could be played in a web browser. We dared to dream of the potential to get paid to play games.
Twenty years later, the company had gone from producing Flash games for broadcasters to releasing apps for LEGO and PLAYMOBIL. These titles have been played over three billion times and topped the Apple charts in every country with an App Store.
When I heard about the opportunity to combine my passion for outdoor adventure and digital OS games, I jumped at the chance.
I am excited to build on the history and innovation of OS. From paper maps to the popular OS Maps app, OS is already helping millions of people go out and create new adventures. I want to develop this further and give existing users new experiences and connect new people with OS.
Can you describe your working day?
Most days start the same way: taking my daughter to school in the New Forest with our family dog. Pokémon are known to be captured along the way and the journey helps my Apple Watch’s “ring of movement” progress well.
At the time of writing this, and for those who understand the personal importance of such things, I am currently on my longest streak; 81 days.
From there, I use my passion for technology, psychology, and entertainment of this nature to design solutions that will encourage more people to experience outdoor adventures.
What are you currently working on?
We are in the process of designing an e-sport for exploration. My team’s goal is to encourage people to go out more often, for longer periods and in a wider variety of places.
Location-based apps allow people to explore the real world alongside a game world of their choice, and augmented real-world locations can enhance an individual’s enjoyment of the great outdoors. Upon reaching a desired location, players may see a physical phone booth in front of them, but they may also have reached a location where they can fight for a new PokéGym in a virtual sense. We want to build on the success of OS Maps and raise awareness of these very engaging outdoor experiences.
Being a gamer myself, I want to make the game as competitive and rewarding as possible – but without tethering players to their phone screen when they are away. Enjoy the trip and discover new things!
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Be here at the start of Ordnance Survey’s journey into the games. It is a rapidly changing and rapidly growing space in which we can excel.
The technology, collective knowledge and contacts that OS has will allow us to thrive in this field and help many others achieve their goals. We can help people map, meet, and explore new places that previously only existed in dreams.
What is the highlight of your operating system?
My highlight so far has been listening to Geocaching Co-Founder Bryan Roth detail their journey from a concept to a new scavenger hunt format with a global community.
Their inspiring story proves what can be achieved with enough passion, drive and imagination on how to use new technology. The best day will be when I randomly meet a family playing one of our games on my walks in the New Forest.