Exploring New Horizons
An Exclusive Interview With Cindy Bowens, Former Community Manager for Sigil Games Online
Questions by Kat "Lady Sirse" Spink
Back in February 2006, many of us were surprised when the Vanguard development team announced that Cindy Bowens had left her position as Community Manager for Sigil Games Online. Also known as Abigale Seashadow, Cindy is known throughout the gaming industry as the creator of the Fan Faire when she started the program back when Everquest was the popular kid on the block. Without her, countless days of gaming fun and meeting other hopelessly addicted fans would have been just a dream.
Kat “Lady Sirse” Spink, recently had a nice chat with Cindy about her experience as a Community Manager in this ever growing and changing industry, her new ventures, and her take on what happened with Sigil Games.
Cindy Bowens, Founder of Seashadow Consulting
TTH: Recently, you wrote an article that was published at MMO Gamer where you compared the growth of the gaming industry to the growth of movies and Hollywood. Many of us were surprised to see your name in print again; it’s been so long. This is the first we've heard from you in quite a while: Where have you been hiding?
Cindy: I left Sigil on February of '06, just as they were entering Beta. I thought I was taking off for a few weeks to recover from surgery, but I had some complications and was very ill for some time. So ill, in fact, that I moved back to my home town to be near my family. I have been spending the past year recuperating and getting my strength back. Finally, I am doing well and I’m more than ready to get back to work. It's been a long year but I am really looking forward to the future.
TTH: I'm sure that I speak for everyone when I say, “Welcome back, we missed you!” That said, long illnesses can be difficult. Now that you've recovered and are looking towards the future can you share with us what is next for you?
Cindy: I have had some opportunities arise working with some game companies on a contract basis. I am working with them on things like starting their own player events and helping them build or repair their current communities. I’ve started my own consulting business, and if I am able to make a living doing consulting, I may enjoy that more than being attached to a single project. It's an exciting time for me.
I have also started the Community Professionals Guild, a group for people working in the online game community services area. I am hoping to build a community there to offer resources and support for people working in this field.
TTH: That sounds really exciting! I don't recall ever seeing anything like the Community Professionals Guild before. Would you tell us a bit more about it?
Cindy: Well, sometimes I have felt a little frustrated working in this field. We are a small group with very specialized sets of skills and experiences. There has not been a lot out there for us in the way of support and training. So I decided to use my site to offer a forum where people who work or worked in the game industry in the community relations field will be able to come together to pool our resources and support each other.
I also welcome people who are hoping to get into this field to come visit my site and ask questions and learn what they can from those of us that have been doing it for awhile. While the guild is only for people who have been employed in the game industry, the public part of my forum will be there for anyone who works in community management in any capacity. I am particularly interested in networking with those that run fan and guild sites. I think we all have a lot we can learn from each other.
Bowens created the first Everquest Fan Faire, an event which is still running to this day.
TTH: Yet again, you've come up with something new for the growing online gaming community. As mentioned before, you were the creator of the Fan Faires for EverQuest. Fan Faire like events even followed you to Sigil Games Online, where you held two very fun-filled Fanguards! Will we see you leading a multi-game Faire in the future?
Cindy: That sounds like fun, but not really something I would be trying in the near future. Right now I am just slowly dipping my foot back into the industry after being gone for so long. So we'll have to see how it goes. *smiles*
TTH: Fair enough (pun intended)! You mentioned that you've worked with a few game companies recently. Can you tell us anything about the projects?
Cindy: No, not yet. As things come together and plans are made firm, we'll make public announcements. Things are just in very early stages right now. But I will say most of my inquiries have been about doing live events.
TTH: I'm sure the community will be keeping an eye out for those announcements! Speaking of events, will there be an Abigale sighting at the upcoming Fan Faire in Las Vegas?
Cindy: I hadn't planned on attending but now that you mention it, it would be fun to go. I'd love to see a lot of the old friends I know will be there. I'll have to think about that. *smiles*