Inside the Game Industry: Make Your Dreams Come True – Part Two

Ever wondered what it takes to get into the game industry? Here are some tips to help you on your journey.

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 each week 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.

Last week I mentioned that I worked at Stratics as a volunteer before going to Ten Ton Hammer as an employee. What I didn’t tell you is that while I was at Stratics, I made a massive error in terms of etiquette and professionalism. We were running a contest in conjunction with Perpetual Entertainment to give away some Gods & Heroes beta keys on the site. Me, in my infinite wisdom (meaning  I had ZERO), decided to spread the excitement by posting about it everywhere I thought people would care.

Now to be fair to my former self, I was a volunteer that had no clue how things were done. I was super excited to share the wealth (beta keys) with potential players, and thought I was doing a good thing for gamers everywhere. What I was actually doing was spamming other network sites with links and information about a contest one of their competitors were running. 

Rule #4You are going to make mistakes. Huge ones. Use them to learn, not as an excuse to quit. 

Most sites took my posts in stride as spam and simply removed them. Ten Ton Hammer went one step further and banned my account. When I sent an email asking why, I believe it was Boomjack (it may have been Ethec) that sent a scathing reply, informing me in no uncertain terms how unprofessional it was of another site manager to do something like that, etc. After promising that such an act would not ever take place again, I was allowed back onto the site. 

Rather than be upset about the ass reaming I had received, I was actually grateful (once I got over my immediate reaction of “poor me, I was just trying to do something nice for the fans”). This was a clear wake-up call in many ways. It reminded me that if I wanted to be treated like a professional, I needed to act like one and that’s exactly what I did from then on. It was the work I did after that incident that allowed me to be taken seriously by Ten Ton Hammer nearly a year later when they were hiring for the Vanguard Assistant Community Manager position. 

As soon as I started working at Ten Ton Hammer, there were two things that became immediately obvious to me. The first is that there was a ton of potentially cool things we could do with the Vanguard site. The second was that even though I was getting paid for 20 hours of work a week, that wasn’t going to be enough hours to accomplish everything I wanted to. So I was left with a choice to either do less than I thought the site deserved, or suck it up and put the extra hours in. If you think you would have gone with the first option, you need to either pick a different field to work in or quit reading now and not start the article back up until you’re ready to choose the second option. 

Rule #5There is no place in the game industry for anyone that isn’t going to put in however many hours it takes to get the job done right. 

After I had gotten the hang of things and accepted the fact that if I wanted to make a career out of this (I was still working fulltime in the IT field at this point) I was going to need to do whatever it took to make sure the content we were putting up was the best it could be for our readers, things started to fall into place. This obsession with getting things right continually escalated the longer I was on the site. 

When I eventually became the Community Manager of the Vanguard site, I started working on a number of projects designed to improve things for our readers. One of those was a complete revamp of the spell lists for every class. Sounds easy enough, right? Not so fast – there were 18 classes in the game and nearly all of them had over 150 spells each. It was a task of monumental proportions and took up nearly 40 hours of my time each week to complete, but in the end, it was worth it. 

Despite my love of Vanguard, the game’s population had tanked long before we eventually made the business decision to stop updating content for the game. It was a rough choice, but if there’s a small amount of people playing, that doesn’t leave a lot of readers either. So it was with a heavy heart I said goodbye to my baby and started working on the main site. 

Rule #6Change is going to come. Rather than gripe and bitch about it, use the opportunity to branch out and learn all you can. 

Even though I was heartbroken about the closing of the Vanguard site, moving to the main site staff was a great move for me. Rather than focusing all my resources on one game (as I had always done up to this point), it allowed me to branch out and begin to take a “big picture” look at the industry as a whole. This expansion would prove to be invaluable for my professional growth. 

Tune in next week for more of this tale and tips on what it takes to make your way inside the industry. Can’t wait that long to hear more? Be sure to follow me on Twitter – you never know what I might say.


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