My body just isn't what it used to be. Two weeks after first coming in contact with the contagion known as the PAX Pox, I am still experiencing sporadic fits of lung-hacking. In one sense I am sad I missed out on the last day of the expo and in another sense I am proud to have been inoculated - my right of passage. (Neume has started calling me a biological weapon.)
Funny enough, I’ve never gotten sick during E3 the past 3 times. That wasn’t the only difference I noticed though between the two trade shows. As much fun as I usually have during E3, I did get more of a communal sense from PAX. At PAX I got more of a “for the people by the people” vibe. To some extent E3 feels more like an industry media show where companies vie and compete for having the most scandalous booth babes or most debaucherous parties. That’s not to say there is a lack of either of those things at PAX, but you do feel a little different. At PAX, I actually had a couple people ask me (with genuine interest) what it is I do for the company and how I started working in the gaming industry. I’m not sure why, but I was kind of surprised when the first person asked me. They mentioned they were currently going to school for pre-med or something along those lines but had a strong interest in game design.
“So how did you start working in gaming and how long have you been a Producer? Was it something that you went to school for?”
Uhhh... Well, it’s kind of a long story but I’ve been working in the gaming industry for almost four years now and have been a Producer for over two years. It happened pretty organically. I started entry-level as a Game Service Rep and focused primarily on one of our titles called Knight Online. I got promoted to a Senior GM, for a title called Red Stone (until that sunsetted) and helped lead our Payment Support Team. As a Senior GM I also provided production support for a game called GoGoRacer, during which it became very apparent that I really wanted to move towards working in production.
My opportunity came when I was given a chance to interview to become an Assistant Producer for Sword of the New World. At the time there were a few other individuals interested as well so I had to sit back and define my strengths that would make me a good candidate for the position. Why did I think I could do the job? I wasn’t necessarily a bigger gamer than any of the other candidates. In fact, in some cases I was probably less of a gamer. I forget now the exact questions (Neume and Linus) asked me during my interview, but I do recall mentioning what I could bring to the table. First, I had a proven track record within the company that I could manage a team (as Senior GM/ Payment Support Lead I had 10 employees reporting to me). Secondly, I had a bit of production experience helping on GoGoRacer (specifically game production), but also in my previous work and educational experience (film production). Lastly, I mentioned that another thing I would bring to the table was a new perspective. Sure, anyone new to the game could say that, but the fact that I defined it as a strength I think helped convey my work ethic and attitude. In the end I got the job, I jumped in head first at the deep end, took what guidance was given to me, and ran with it. Less than a year after I became Assistant Producer I was promoted again to be an Associate Producer for what is now known as Sword 2.
My educational background actually was not in gaming. I had gone to school for Film & TV, but I found that there was some cross overs. Production - whether you are working on a video game or working on a film - there are some inherent skills that you need to have to do the job. You need to understand how to manage and work well with teams/departments. You need to have a passion or interest in the projects you work on. There’s a balance between art, entertainment and commerce that you should be privy to. Furthermore, you must be ambitious, willing to work crazy hours, be resourceful, and you have to know your numbers.
When I first started working at GamersFirst, I was far from a college graduate. I had been out in the work force for nearly four years mostly working for big corporations, making a decent living, and paying off huge school loans. I did everything from free-lance video editing to corporate sales. Despite making a decent living I was still searching for something more; I wanted to make a living but work with people I could have conversations with about the things that interested me the most in life. Finding the right company culture is sometimes harder than it seems. I am a nerd at heart so gaming, comics, films, and TV are all my cup of tea. I’ve been pretty fortunate that I’ve found a nice little home at GamersFirst where my personal interests and career goals can finally go hand in hand.
I was a complete noob.
Volktreau bugged me daily about leveling. He posted on my Facebook “Nub, level faster!” Another co-worker commented, “Be nice and leave the poor nub alone.”
I had to learn how to manage the International Operations for our title and work with new people for the first time. I had to learn how to work effectively with various departments from PR, Marketing, IT, Customer Support, and Creative. I had to build a relationship with our partners IMC Games and Hanbitsoft. I had to learn how to analyze game data and make better decisions for the game. I had to learn to prioritize and work within the greater scope of the company. In short - I had to learn a TON!
Sword of the New World first launched commercially in July 2007. I was brought to work on the title two years later. Since then my team has launched almost double the number of expansions. We’ve established new systems that did not exist prior, and learn how to utilize the resources and tools made available or unavailable to us. We’ve broken several records for the highest grossing revenue days, including the top three days (by three fold). We have worked towards establishing a strong relationship in our International Operations and also a stronger relationship with our development partners. We have also worked towards building a stronger player community and an environment where we can have open dialogue with our players. This blog is a perfect example of our efforts towards that end; we want to give our community a greater insight on our day-to-day and who we are.
Looking at how much my team has worked towards, all the challenges we’ve faced, and all the milestones we’ve reached together - I don’t know if I would consider myself a noob anymore. I’ve gained quite a bit of experience in the past two years a Producer, but it is hard to say if I have really mastered my job because there are always new challenges, new opportunities, and new circumstances that I will face. So long as my team and I strive towards improving and trying out new and creative ideas - we will always continue to learn.