I began gaming in 1987, with my first true love being Sierra adventure games and MUDs. I quickly moved into AOL's Neverwinter Nights (a predecessor to the MMOG world, although they could only host 600 players at a time), and found my real passion in gaming... building communities. The guild (www.grey-company.org) I helped build there has been thriving for over two decades, and has become a major force in every game world to which we have journeyed. In fact, various Tel'Mithrim (the Grey Company) websites are even linked on wikipedia as for Elvish and Drow language resources, and we are also listed as the only surviving guild from the original Neverwinter Nights on AOL (though I do not know if that is true).
My taste in community building was not sated with just running one community, and in 1999 I took on my first experience building Meta-Gaming communities. UOLS was an experiment in creating a server-wide community where members from every facet of the game could come together and participate as a whole. Our forums and guild hosting features quickly made us a powerful entity on the shard, with literally a third of the shard's population utilizing our forums, and over half reading our news coverage.
I also developed several focused in game meta-groups for specialized interests, including Role Playing, Player vs. Player combat, and Crafting. Here are a few samples:
A loose organization of players from EVERY shard/server who were willing to help play bit characters, townsfolk, quest characters, fortune tellers, pirates, orcs, savages, or whatever was needed for player events. The primary purpose was not to replace Studio sponsored organizations or events, but rather to enable player organizations to field large groups of players for their own events. In short, it was a RolePlaying/Event Temp Service. You need bodies? We have bodies.
LSDS was not a guild, but rather a meta-guild community that allowed participants from any guild to become an active member. A group of Duelers were recruited as Duel Masters, their only purpose to watch and record Duels performed by members of LSDS and record their standings on a global ladder. As members won Duels, they gained points. As they gained points, they rose on the ladder. Once a month, the top 8 contenders on the Ladder were invited to meet and perform at a public "High Tournament" against each other, where increased points were given for winning, as well as other prizes.
As my experience in the gaming world increased, I began to leverage my talents as a reporter, editorialist, web developer, and community activist to many other Gaming news/fan sites. Throughout all of these media experiences I have built up many connections, both among the player-base and with the Developers of most major Gaming Studios in existence (or in development). Here are a few of the Gaming sites I have worked with over the years:
UO Lake Superior
- Community Manager, Editor
A meta-community based on the Lake Superior shard of Ultima Online, offering news for everything of interest to players on that shard, as well as general UO related coverage.
- Editorialist, Developer/Designer
An Ultima Online community dedicated to the Player vs. Player mentality and expanding that mentality's success in the game. While considered a bit of a black sheep by OSI themselves, mainly due to their very harsh critiques and colorful language, I find maintaining an ear to their issues is a vital skill in understanding the current status of combat within the game.
- Guest Editorialist, Audio Interviewer, E3 Reporter
A multi-genre news site dedicated to online video gaming, mainly covering news blurbs and articles of particular note to the player community.
- UWOO Community Coordinator, E3 Reporter
The grandfather of MMOG news sites. Stratics includes General News, Shard News, General Forums and dedicated Forums for Shards and Character Professions for almost every MMOG in existence. Not to mention just about every Statistic and Strategic bit of info, Utilities and Tools, Reviews of Player Run Establishments and other features they could dig up.
- Guest Editorialist
A multi-gaming news site, with a wide focus on player issues.
- E3 Reporter
Yet another multi-game news portal.
I have had many opportunities to cultivate relationships with a large range of developers, with an emphasis on MMOG studios. Here are a few of the studios and publishers I have expanded my network to include:
In 2001 I was approached through some of my contacts to help with a new CRPG based on the Talislanta RPG. As one of my favorite RPGs, I could hardly refuse, and began to work with them as their PR and Marketing Lead. Unfortunately, the project failed to find funding and was eventually canceled, but the experience I gained with them was invaluable in my understanding of the PR beast as it relates to gaming.
I have also developed, and helped develop, several "real world" player luncheons/meetups for gamers of all types, with developer attendance, including events at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. I am comfortable speaking with large crowds, and well versed in the dynamics required to coordinate and orchestrate such events.
In 2004 I was hired as an Event Moderator for EA's Ultima Online MMOG. Event Moderators were responsible for running in game events for the players, creating unique plot lines and quests, developing and dispensing unique "quest items", and many other social related activities. Our duties placed us in the difficult position of representing the game's developers "in game", despite the fact that we had very little to do with the actual development process, as development team members rarely ventured within the game (visibly, that is). It was vitally important to present an engaging and friendly demeanor to our players, while being careful not to release any privileged information on expansions or upcoming features. Furthermore, part of our duties included the development and dispersion of unique quest items, which were highly sought after by the player population. Learning to exercise the proper level of professional distance while still engaging them in the various scenarios and quests that were our prime directive was a challenging but rewarding exercise.
For samples of the various quests and events I have run, please see the CREATIVITY section.
In addition to the obvious gaming community experience, I am also proficient in many applications that would aid in the development of a quality community relations department. As a business consultant specializing in Service Oriented Architecture, I have developed, implemented, and administered Customer Relationship Management applications for many business models. I believe that a properly constructed system would make Community Relations a very dependable source of Public Relations. If all gaming news sites, fan sites, and key community leaders are viewed as a "marketing asset", and carefully cultivated to produce maximum return on the company's time investment, it would be possible to achieve a very significant online presence for a minimal investment. In addition, there is no reason that a CRM could not be configured to serve as the primary infrastructure for the Support, Marketing, and PR teams as well, again without any significant investment on your studio's part beyond the manpower to configure an existing enterprise level solution, such as SalesForce, Sugar, vTiger, or Microsoft CRM. With such a system in place, it should be possible to automate a vast portion of work done manually by most Community teams, including the maintenance of community contacts (players/developers/media), development of community profiles, metric reporting of community activity, community acceptance of development initiatives, etc.
If you would like to download this page, including all samples and associated materials, I have also provided them in a printed format.
The Tao of E is a collection of precepts upon which I base my Community Management strategy.
If you would like to hear the complete Tao of E presentation, feel free to CONTACT me to arrange a viewing.
I am confident that I have the experience, skills, and assets to create a powerful Community Relations program for your studio.
Please continue to my talents in the SUPPORT field.