A new community adventure begins

This month I began a new adventure in my career. After working at Petroglyph for an amazing five years, I've moved to Houston to work at Six Foot as a community manager for an upcoming game.

It wasn't an easy decision, as Petroglyph is such an incredible studio to work at. The founders are extremely considerate about your time, and the team is amazing in their work. Many of them come from Westwood Studios and have over 25 years of experience in the industry. I learned so much just absorbing discussions during meetings, milestone updates, and chats around the coffee pot. The studio is quite open to its employees, something that's rarer in this industry than it should be.

It can be difficult to accurately describe what a place is like to work at, so a couple of years ago I put together this 8th anniversary video that I think summarizes the work environment and offline culture at Petroglyph nicely:

Reflecting back, I recall the first week on the job was tasked with rebuilding the community website in preparation for several projects we were working on, including a few board games. Actually, me being the inquisitive type, I just dug in automatically with further needs quickly became apparent. Studio tours, press meetings, and other PR and marketing work were all needed.

Months later with other projects well underway, we began working on a community plan for a MOBA game, the first major IP owned online game by the studio. I didn't hesitate to lead the community facing needs for that project. Since the team was small, it was also great to work with the producer and others directly. There was minimal red tape - a let's just get it done kind of project.

When preparing community plans for a game release, I love talking about the characters and other gameplay content. Seeing the community's reactions, both positive and critical, make me smile with joy. Here are a couple of other videos I put together for the MOBA mentioned above:

It's interesting how studios seem to have a wide range of sensitivity toward the importance of someone maintaining their game's communities. Petroglyph saw that continued need in 2009 when they hired me. I feel just as fortunate to have been picked up by Six Foot this year to continue my work. EVERY company that has an online presence should have a community manager, or community team to lead and grow their online presence. It's a must!

While community managers should focus on their core discipline -- managing communities -- having an understanding of other skills can be invaluable to a project. This is especially true at smaller studios that don't have the resources for a wider marketing team. A community manager there can learn a great deal about how to start a community. You discover all of the intricate systems that go into making a community foundation solid and capable to be built upon, such as:

  • Web development with HTML, CSS, PHP, and adding SQL databases
  • Building social media pages that link to each other via RSS feeds
  • Building videocasts, dev diaries, and other developer facing features
  • Promoting early access phases on press and social networks
  • How to coordinate with community leaders to build fan sites
  • Filtering analytics from services like Ninja Metrics and custom tools
  • Building images and promo banners through programs like Photoshop
  • Analyzing community feedback for the devs with tools like Zendesk

And just as importantly, knowing when to ask others on the team for advice!

In such a constantly evolving industry, we don't often get a choice when or how we want to move forward with our careers, as various forces tend to push us one way or another. I look at my current situation similarly, but in all the right ways that make it worth pursuing. Petroglyph is an amazing studio with people that are focused on their passion. I couldn't have been more happier there, but things must move forward when it makes sense for a change.

Early this year I had to ask myself, “Just how do I best move forward?”. It's an important question everyone should be asking in their careers on occasion. Are you where you want to be?

Since I give my career such weight in my life (some say too much and that I should run to the hills to find a likable someone before it's "too late"...), I end up being very dedicated to the place I work at when a transition does take place. Fortunately, Petroglyph and Six Foot both have been fantastic at helping to make this transition possible. It's a unique situation and one that I wouldn't dare turn down. If you see an opportunity along your career path, take it!

So, this is my next adventure. I'm a little disoriented, extremely excited, and very much relieved to have everyone I've connected with over the years as mentors, guides, and friends. They check my sanity to make sure I don't walk straight off a virtual community cliff, at least without a parachute :).

I can't wait to show you what game I'm working on now! It should make a lot of more sense then as to why I chose Six Foot...

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