Everyone is a Community Manager — they just don’t know it

Everyone is a Community Manager — they just don’t know it

Photo by Tegan Mierle on Unsplash

One of my favourite animated movies is Pixar’s Ratatouille. The animation is mouthwatering, the storytelling punchy, and the soundtrack is divine. But I’m particularly taken by what Anton Ego says at the end of the film: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

I like this saying because it applies to many things, and it especially works for the sometimes-maligned role of the community manager. Community managers see and take some shit (if you work with one, you should thank them right now for their service). I know this because my entry to the AAA space started with a community management role. It’s a coveted spot for entry-level applicants to the games industry because many CMs graduate to do great things, thanks to the vast skillsets they acquire out there in the trenches.

But, welp, therein lies the conundrum, right? Want an entry-level CM role to gain EXP. But need EXP to get that entry-level CM role. The good news is that you’re probably already a community manager in your daily life. You just don’t know it. Here’s how to figure that out.

Step 1: Examine what you already do every day

Natsu and her siblings, rescue litter

I’m going to travel back in time to before I started working in video games. Back then, I was a dedicated volunteer for an animal shelter. I started out as a dog walker and graduated to running adoption events, doing merchandise sales to fundraise, and even started chaperoning corporate visits and doing public talks to raise awareness.

When I was doing up my resume for submission to Blizzard Entertainment (I got the job, btw), I thought about all of the time I’d put into volunteering and realised that my efforts actually fit the job description. Run an adoption event? Replace dogs with your playtest-ready beta build and you’ve got a game event. Given talks on behalf of the dog shelter? The same public speaking skill, and the ability to put together a slide deck and speak concisely to it puts you firmly in the running to be a successful community manager.

My favourite realisation was this: if you’ve ever walked a reactive or timid dog and accidentally dropped the leash, the ability to remain calm in the face of potentially losing this dog to a road accident or the deep forest is critical for when your game breaks and you’re suddenly faced with a thousand instant criticisms from your community.

Step 2: Think about when you’ve brought people together

Photo by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

Passion and shared interests can be infectious–at least that was what I discovered when I worked at a console rental shop. It was the stomping ground of the local fighting game community, and as I got to know more community members, I realised they had a lot of interesting personalities worth writing about.

I decided to put my comms diploma to good use and started a little print fanzine. It was about 8 pages, featured articles written by the community, and included a 50 cent discount coupon for use at the nearby ice cream parlour. I sold it for a dollar, just enough to cover the cost of printing. Each of the three print runs it had sold out (you could only buy it in the shop I worked at), and even up till today, I’ve gotten messages thanking me for the experience.

Brought a community together in one location? Check.

Gave the community priceless memories? Check.

Helped channel myriad talents from across a diverse pool of individuals into one final, shippable product, which is basically the same as working cross functionally inside and outside of global and regional publishing teams in a multinational video game developer?


Step 3: Is the quality of your work already validated?

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

It should be clear by now that you probably have at least one, if not several, instances in your life where you’ve already done community management. The last check is to see which areas of your everyday community management are developed enough to a) be worth adding to your resume and b) successful enough for your future employer to sit up and take notice.

My friend, A, who started his career in games as a CM at an AAA company, began his foray into games as a highly successful YouTuber. He had already grown and managed a community numbering in the hundreds of thousands by the time he applied for his role.

Another friend, V, also a former AAA CM, was already actively managing his guild in a popular MMORPG, and writing content for that game’s fansites to publish. He was already doing the exact same thing he would go on to do for his former employer, just at a smaller scale.

My stint in community management has been one of the wildest and most fulfilling rollercoaster rides of my life, and I only got to experience that because I realised I was already doing the job. If you had asked me way back in the day if a volunteer dog walker or MMORPG guildmaster could someday be employed as very capable community managers in an AAA dev studio, I’d probably have laughed. Today, though, I firmly believe that a great community manager can come from anywhere.

I hope this article helps you realise what you’re already successfully doing, and gets you one step closer to your dream job in the games industry. Good luck!

If you found this article helpful, a clap or comment is appreciated! If you’re a community manager and you’re reading this, thanks for what you do, you unsung hero, you.

Everyone is a Community Manager — they just don’t know it was originally published in Mighty Bear Games on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.