Do you currently manage a community?
Yes, I am the Community Manager (amongst other things) at New Star Games, we make video games, mostly on mobile devices and I manage our community pages on Facebook for New Star Soccer (1.3 million fans) and our latest game, New Star Cricket (20k fans) I also look after our Twitter account, do all the customer support emails and handle our Marketing and PR. We are a very small company, so wearing many hats is just part of day to day life.
What career path brought you to where you are now?
I've been in the Games industry for 20 years. I first started as a games tester in a well know video game developers QA department back in March 1997 and then eventually moved into game design, worked on a few games and realised I had more of an aptitude towards production so moved to assistant producer and eventually as a producer managing large teams and big budgets.
While in a senior management role, I realised that we needed someone to work directly with the community but had trouble convincing the board that it would be beneficial. I persevered and in the end I volunteered myself to fill the role, the idea being that I would soon show the benefits and then we could hire someone else to do the job. Problem was that I enjoyed it too much
A couple of years down the line this brought up some other problems as the company was looking for ways to save money and here I was still on my producers wage in a job that could be done by someone they could pay a lot less. That eventually led me to working Freelance for New Star Games and I've been working with them for a few years now, still loving the challenge.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Day to day it's the unrealistic expectations of some of our customers and dealing with it in a measured way. The best way to deal with that is to find something to laugh about and realise that there are more important things in life to get stressed about. I recently had major back problems and found out that one of the reasons I've had problems is because I internalise my stress and this makes me tense and puts extra strain on my back. So this has made me consider more creative ways with dealing with stress.
I think the gaming community in general is particularly awkward, sometimes nasty and always entitled, so I prefer to combat issues with humour if possible. I try not to take myself too seriously and I make time every day to relax and do my own thing. I genuinely think that this is one of the hardest things for someone who works with online communities to do, but it's also one of the most important.
Know when to switch off, relax with family and friends and find something you really love and regularly schedule a time to do it as we all need something to look forward to.
What's the best job you ever had that wasn't in community management and does it inform your CM work in any way?
I worked for a few years in a pharmaceutical warehouse doing different jobs, but the best one was as a forklift truck driver. I still can legally drive 3 different types of forklift truck. There was something very satisfying about loading and unloading wagons, or stacking things in the warehouse. It probably doesn't inform my CM work today, but it did make me better at Tetris and maybe that's what got me into games (or not).