[Freelance CM] Meet Mark Baldwin


(Mark Baldwin) #1

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 :slight_smile:

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).

(Sarah Hawk) #2

Wow. This is interesting. I wonder how many of us do this without realising it.

(Piper_Wilson) #3

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I love reading these interviews.

I feel you. It sounds like you’re handling it well. Are you able to use the humor with the community also; can you joke around with your community?

(Mark Baldwin) #4

According to my chiropractor, this affects a lot of people, but we don’t tend to realise it until we have a major problem. We work through the niggles. Apparently men have this problem a lot more than women. I think, as with lots of things, recognising you have a problem is half the battle. :slight_smile:

(Mark Baldwin) #5

Yes, I try to use humour as much as I can and that mostly works for our UK based fans, but humour does not translate very well, so with some of our international members of the community, it can sometimes go a bit flat.

(Nick Emmett) #6

Great read and insight - I love reading the career path sections of these features and seeing how people “fall” in to Community Management. Nice work @Mjbill

(Piper_Wilson) #7

Here’s something that may help - or I could just be weird. :wink:

I worked with an international community in my last position. The tone of our community was light and upbeat so humour, with a U because the company was Canadian, was always a goal. I went looking for cultural phrases from other countries in an effort to make us more accessible across the board.

I wasn’t very successful though. I still think it was a good idea, I just never found a good source.

It’s possible that it wasn’t entirely my fault. I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s, “The Mother Tongue” and he explains why languages don’t always translate well from one to the other. So it makes sense, now that I’m thinking about it, that humor won’t always work either.

Sorry for the tangent, but I love Bill Bryson.

(Mark Baldwin) #8

I like Bill Bryson, really enjoyed “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. will add “The Mother Tongue” to my reading list. I am a big fan of humour that is a play on words, love puns. However this definitely does not translate. :slight_smile: stick to visual humour.