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The Evolution Of Community Management
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The Evolution Of Community Management


October 19, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

That is, perhaps, why Gordon Walton has become one of her inspirations. Walton is VP and executive producer at Playdom, and his keynote recently opened GDC Europe's Community Management Summit.

Walton called the community manager the designated voice of the entire company, saying that everything a community manager says will be dissected and taken apart by the community. And so he stressed the importance of their working closely with both PR and marketing to make sure messaging is concise and on message.

He concluded his talk with a call-to-arms to community managers to demand their jobs get the recognition he feels they deserve: "It is time for community managers to rise to the occasion. We must educate and we must get active about things. No one is going to hand recognition to you. You have to demand it," he said.

Massey admits that community management at CCP, which currently produces just one MMO, is simpler than at a studio with multiple games, because a community manager needs to know the inner workings of every single one of their games. All that is about to change, however, when CCP releases its second game -- Dust 514, an FPS exclusive to the PlayStation 3.

She anticipates that her team will be involved in promoting the new title, just as it does with EVE Online, generating promotional ideas and contests, working with the various portals to sponsor events, and participating in conventions, like the recent Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle.

As senior community manager at Burbank, CA-based Insomniac Games for a little over five years now, James Stevenson knows very well what it takes to deal with multiple games -- 16 console titles, in fact, including the popular Ratchet & Clank series, since the indie developer opened its doors in 1994.

Stevenson says the most important ingredient in a good community manager is "a lot of patience," especially because much of the time he and his team of five frequently "deal with the vocal minority. They are the most passionate fans, the ones who can either help you reach new heights... or sink you quickly. That's because, if you do things to what they consider 'their game' that they don't like or don't understand, they can turn around and bite you, possibly ruining the game by telling a lot of people online that your game isn't any good."

And so, Stevenson believes, it is extremely important to maintain a great, long-term relationship with those fans through a variety of mediums -- both the long-standing message boards and the new media like Twitter and Facebook.

"We try and respond to just about every question we get," which requires constant attention to the various inputs that flood in from fans around the globe. "When you're dealing with all the time zones, someone is always awake, someone is always playing your games, and if something goes wrong, you've got to be ready to try and help."

Sometimes it feels like a 24/7 job, he says, especially when he tries to answer every single Tweet he gets -- checking and responding to them before he goes to sleep, and then again first thing in the morning when he wakes up.

Stevenson considers himself on the front line because it is he and his team who are frequently the first to be aware that something is wrong with an Insomniac game.

"We're the first to see the complaints coming in," he says, "and that's when we try to deal with the problem by bringing in the right people and making sure they know what's going on. We're also the first to communicate back to the players that everything is under control and there will be a fix coming soon."

Indeed, when he and his people are wearing their "crisis management hats," the ability to keep players calm is all-important.

He recalls an incident just recently that involved the beta version of Resistance 3 which launched last month for the PS3. The developers had to shut off the matchmaking function for a few days while a fix was prepared.

"Gamers immediately began complaining," he says, "and we were responsible for keeping them up-to-date and telling them that we were working on the problem. We were super-responsive, super-fast, and I think people appreciated that."


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