Inside the Game Industry: Make Your Dreams Come True Part Four
Eric “Dalmarus” Campbell has been a deliverer of dentures, a U.S. Marine, a security guard, an IT specialist, and a writer. He has also worked for a few game industry heavyweights you may have heard of – Blizzard, BioWare, and ArenaNet. Tune in as he tells his tale and provides numerous tips from an insider’s perspective on what it takes to make it in the game industry.
As I stated in part three of this series, working as a Game Master at Blizzard may not have been my dream job, but it was the final piece of the puzzle I needed to get a job I had quite literally been dreaming about for years. Before working at Blizzard, I very rarely received anything more than a cursory phone call from prospective companies in the industry. As I would soon discover, that was all about to change.
Rule # 10 – Never underestimate the power of a big company name on your resume.
few months after I started working at Blizzard, I
applied for a Community Manager position with Heatwave Interactive. They had
purchased the rights to Gods & Heroes. Remember how this
journey began with
that game in part
one? I thought the cosmic circle
was now going to complete itself and nearly
died of shock when I got a phone call less than 24 hours after
phone interview went very well (they were far more enthused about
talking to me
than I had found normal from my previous industry calls) and a Skype
was scheduled. After talking with them for an hour, I was extremely
did I know at the time that I didn’t have a clue
what a Community Manager of a game company would be doing on a daily
answer for the question of “Walk me through what you think a
typical day would
look like” was horrible (I obviously didn’t know
this then). Although they were
polite, I found out shortly that I had bombed the interview and they
interested in bringing me on. I was crushed. After getting the news, I
choice to make. I could either take it as a sign I wasn’t
meant to work in this
field, or I could try again.
# 11 – You
ARE going to sometimes fail. You ARE
going to sometimes be turned down. If you really want to work in this
you’ll get back up and improve.
the news that I hadn’t made it after getting to
the final two may have crushed my heart, but due to a bit of a
issue I’ve since mellowed out, it also pissed me the hell
off. The key with
being ticked off in this field (or any line of work, really) is to
anger into something useful and that’s exactly what I did. If
I wasn’t good
enough, I wanted to see who was. That person turned out to be Donna
didn’t know it at the time, but she was (and still is) a very
capable community professional that inadvertently helped me get my job
BioWare. Once I found out who got the job, I went looking to see what
experience she had that I didn’t.
It didn’t take long to find out that Donna had just come from working a year with BioWare. As luck would have it, they had a number of forum moderation jobs open. They also had a Community Coordinator position open in Austin, so I applied for both. Again, thanks in large part to having the name of Blizzard on my resume, I was called almost immediately. After a semi-grueling series of phone and in-person interviews, I got a call one day letting me know the Community Coordinator gig was mine if I wanted. To this day, that moment marks one of the greatest moments of my entire life. It may have been the Blizzard name that got me the first interview, but it was the years of community experience I’d gotten while with Ten Ton Hammer that finally landed me my dream job.
# 12 – Never
hesitate to draw on all your previous
experiences in life, even if they don’t seem directly related
to the job you
# 12 may sound like an odd thing to say, but as my
first week on the job would prove, it can save your ass. Less than 5
I started, the person I was hired to assist left the company. All of a
I found my position in jeopardy and quickly needed to find a team role
Enter the forum complaint inbox that I discovered had been largely
ignored for some
had over a decade of customer
experience and almost three years of community management experience
with gamers. I threw myself into the role of arbitrator and resolution
and it worked like a charm. The other team members quickly made me feel
part of the gang.
For the next year and a half, I attacked every job I was given with gusto. Each day there was a privilege and I never let myself forget it. While I won’t make it a rule, I suggest you do the same because if there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that this industry is volatile and you can find yourself needing a new job in a hurry. This leads me to the final rule in this series.
#13 – NEVER
BURN A PROFESSIONAL BRIDGE… EVER!
you manage to make your way to the inside of this
awesome industry, there is one fact you’re going to find out
very quickly –
everyone knows everyone somehow. Any person that has worked on a title
significance can be used as a replacement for Kevin Bacon if the sought
connection is with another member of the industry. Do not speak badly
employees of other companies. Do not speak badly about any employee at
company you find yourself currently working for. It takes a special
person to make it in this industry and as a result, we all come
the layoff monster makes its regular rounds through a company. The
burn now may keep you from finding new work in the future.
lot of work you’ll find is contract with a chance to
convert to regular employee. As such, it’s not uncommon to
find very talented
and dedicated people that have worked for 3 different companies in as
years. This means while you’re with a company, you need to
bust your ass
continually to prove how useful and helpful you are. It will mean the
difference when it’s your time to go. I found this out after
I got caught in
the second round of layoffs BioWare had after the release of Star Wars:
Republic. It was the friendships I had made combined with the
dedication to my
work that allowed me to get a job shortly afterwards with ArenaNet
written test and a couple of phone calls.
There’s no other industry I’d want to work in. It has its ups and downs like any, but the people you’ll meet and work with are incredible. Working in an environment where everyone desperately wants to be there and loves their job is indescribable. Before I end this final piece of the series, let me leave you with a few more pieces of advice:
- Never say no when someone asks for a volunteer. I don’t care who or what it is.
- Never be afraid to take a risk. I was told by some that leaving a regular employment gig with Blizzard for a contract job with BioWare was stupid. I beg to differ. It was the best thing I ever did.
- Believe in yourself and your abilities. If you don’t, nobody else is going to bother doing it either.
- As often as you can (especially as a new-hire), be the first person in and one of the last to leave. Don’t be that person that’s always trying to go home as soon as possible.
- When time allows, go out to lunch with members of different teams. Building out-of-work relations with them will prove amazingly useful when it comes time to involve those teams in future projects.
- As long as you don’t allow your own responsibilities to slack off, do as much cross-training as managers will allow.
- Always look for ways to help your fellow employees. Always! The payoff for clearly being a team player cannot be underestimated.
finally, HAVE FUN! You work for a company making
Have questions about anything I’ve posted in here, or any other gaming topic? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter any time!