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Monday, January 23, 2012

Blog the Week 1: Confessions of a Community Manager

Fun fact of the day: The 4th Monday of January is known around the world as Community Manager Appreciation Day. Saying "around the world" is probably stretching it, given that the title "community manager" (in the sense that it's used today) is one of those fancy internet jobs and there are still many places around the world with no or limited internet access. Like various other "Appreciation Days" that have come before it (and will certainly come after it), it's equal parts genuine appreciation, empty gesture and self-promotion. Maybe not so equal parts, but I'll leave that up to you to decide.

For my part, I came up with the (possibly difficult to understand) e-card sentiment that you see above. Personally, I think it's amusing.

At my company, there are two categories of community managers. There are the game Community Managers, who deal with all of the various language communities for one game, and there are International Community Managers, who deal with all of the company's games for a specific language. I am an International Community Manager for all of the English-language games. Both work hand-in-hand.

The game Community Managers have the in-depth knowledge of the game and work closely with the dev teams, but don't necessarily have the in-depth knowledge about each and every language and corresponding cultural intricacies. The International Community Managers have more generalized knowledge of each of their games, but they have the whole inside scoop about how their players (for their language) think, react and respond to the games. One really isn't better than the other (I'm possibly being subjective here :)), the concentrations are just different.

So, what's it like being a community manager? It's fun, challenging (in the good way) & rewarding, but it's also stressful, exhausting and frustrating. For example, there are around 20 active English-language games that fall under my scope of responsibility in some way or another. There are roughly 200 volunteer moderators that I am responsible for keeping (somewhat, somehow) organized and on task. There are hardcore gamer-types that calculate every experience and hit point that they gain or lose; there are casual gamers (like your mom or grandma) that don't know the difference between an internet browser and a computer operating system. In the course of a day's work, I have to be able to relate to them all on some level, while somehow maintaining my sanity and empathy for humans in general.

As a community manager, particularly one in charge of a large number of volunteers all culled from the actual gaming communities (and, therefore, with different levels of experience) I have to be adept at being both the good guy and the bad guy, sometimes at the same time and on both sides of the fence. I have to champion my communities, but also keep them in check, abate their fears and point out the parts of the big picture that they're unable to see. Then for my teams, I have to motivate (and keep motivated), encourage, build a certain level of trust (and, hopefully) mutual respect, but also stop them from going off on wild tangents. All the while, I have to be willing to step in and take one for the team when necessary. And I'll always do that last one gladly.

In the past two years, I've met and developed a rapport with so many people from so many different walks of life. People that rely on me to be there for them from thousands of miles away and look to me (I mean, for guidance and the "right answer". I don't always have it. Newsflash: I'm not perfect and I don't try to be (because that's impossible, duh). But while I'm here and in this field, I'll just keep trying everyday to do the best that I can.

So thanks to the communities, without whom I'd have nothing to manage, and to my teams, who are truly the ones out there on the frontlines, not afraid to get a bit scuffed up and who (well, overwhelmingly at least) would go to bat for me as quickly as I would for them. I really couldn't do it without you.

Infograph source:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

soldier of your job