Community Management: Beyond the Forums

Katherine Stull
01 / 30 / 18
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Most game industry jobs require some versatility, and community management is no exception. There is a widely-held belief that community managers are mostly responsible for forum management – and while that is a big part of the role, we get to do so much more!

 

 

Community Advocate – Community managers serve as the primary bridge between developers and the community. Community feedback is vital in player-focused development, and it’s the community manager’s responsibility to advocate for the players’ wishes. This often entails recording their suggestions, presenting these ideas at design meetings, or relaying these thoughts to the Project Director. Having a background in design can be helpful for sorting through which suggestions are most useful, or which can be implemented with the least disruption to the production cycle.

Blogger – Another great way to show the community that you’re listening is to start a conversation or provide resources through blogging. These blogs can be game-specific or simply provide educational resources for those interested in becoming game developers themselves. Blogs can serve as updates on development and facilitate conversation – another excellent way to collect feedback!

Encyclopedia – As members of the community become invested into your game, they’ll have a lot of questions. How do certain abilities work? Where is this item located? How much damage does it deal? It’s up to you to be a resident expert who can answer these questions with ease. Most of the basics can be picked up organically by playing the game – which you must do! A lot! For specific stats, I often browse within the game engine’s editor. (This is another area where being well-rounded helps. It’s always a good idea to be familiar with development software – free programs like Unity are a great place to start!)

Jetsetter – Attending conferences, press events, and meeting with members of the community requires a lot of travel! This is an excellent opportunity to connect on a personal level with those you’ve been chatting with on forums or social media. It’s also a great way to promote the game to audiences who haven’t had the opportunity to play it yet.

Streamer – Streaming the game allows you to showcase new features to the community and put a “face” to your interactions. Community members can message the stream chat directly and have their questions answered in real time.

Liaison – Being excited about the game is great, but getting other people excited about it is even better! Social media influencers and Twitch streamers are great allies in getting the word out about your game. As community manager, it’s important to connect with them and provide them with whatever they may need to showcase your game.

Moderator – Being a moderator extends beyond the reach of the forums – it’s your job to keep the peace in Discord channels, social media platforms, and in-game chat. Your behavior sets an example for the rest of the community, so it’s important to be as diplomatic as possible. Remaining calm in tense situations is a must, and shows the community that you want what’s best for everyone.

Culture Geek – Having an understanding of what is trending in games and happening in the games industry is key in “reading the room.” Following internet culture is a good way to make sure that your references are relevant, and allow you to connect with your community on another level. It’s also important to be aware of sensitive or trending topics, as your game may be a part of the conversation.

Collaborator – Community managers never work in a bubble – they collaborate with publishers, the marketing team, developers, and many others to form strategies and do what’s best for the community. It’s important to be organized and efficient to make collaboration as streamlined as possible!

 


Does this sound like a role you’d love to fill? Here’s a list of our recommended programs and software for community managers to master!

  • Facebook/Twitter/Instagram – Not all community managers are social media managers, but knowing how to use social platforms is vital in interacting with the community!
  • Discord – Running or moderating a Discord server gives the community instant access to your expertise and resources. It’s especially helpful when you’d like to join the community for some time in-game, as there is a voice chat feature!
  • Forum management tools – There are a lot of different forum management tools out there, but being familiar with one will be helpful in learning new ones. If you’re unsure where to begin, hopping into another game’s forums and getting involved is a great place to start!
  • Streaming software/plug-ins – There are many different types of software available for streaming, but a few of the most popular ones are XSplit and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software.) Knowing how to use these is a must for streaming!
    • Google Suite – In a collaborative environment, being able to create and share documents and spreadsheets is a must. This is a great way to track and share community feedback as well.
  • Gaming news sources – Keep up with what’s happening in the games industry so you can better relate to their community and understand the climate surrounding your game.

 

Extra credit:

  • Unity/Unreal/Any game engine – Having a basic understanding of how to navigate within a game engine can be helpful in looking up specific stats or details that the community may need help with. Being a developer on these platforms also gives you unique insights into what requests are most feasible for your production timelines.
  • Adobe Creative Suite – Being able to create graphics for social media or editing photographs is a helpful skill to keep the community engaged with exciting new content. (Yes, this could mean you’re making memes.)

 

No two community management positions are exactly the same, but we hope that this helps.

For more information on community-driven development, check out our blog!