Back from ION: Recapping the Rant

I’m back in Beantown after taking the red eye from Seattle last night following the conclusion of the ION Conference. It was a really good show focused on online gaming and MMOs. It was great to meet up with other developers and hear their war stories, as well as talk in person with folks I usually kibitz with through email or blog posts.

One of my favorite bits was a panel looking five years into the future of MMOs, as discussed by Scott and Damion on their blogs. I really want most of what these two guys prophesized to come true, for both personal preference and professional reasons.

Massively also did a lengthy recap of the panel I put together. It was well received by the audience, and I was very pleased with the insightful discussion fostered by my four panelists. I was lucky to get four skilled community managers with a ton of experience and a lot of compelling opinions. My thanks to Craig, Victor, Katie, and Meghan for participating.

The article mentions that I started things off with a rant, which I wrote the night before after attending the MMO 2013 panel and hearing those folks riffing about how little respect community managers get in this industry. So I decided to unleash my inner Moorgard and stir things up a bit to kick off my panel.

I didn’t do any slides (h8 u, pwrpoynt) but I am posting the text of my rant for those of you interested.

I called this little tirade…

What Is Community?

“Community” (note the use of quotes) is a buzzword thrown around by overpaid executives seeking to convince the industry that they understand gamers and the relationships that form between them. They do this in hopes of harnessing this knowledge as a means of making lots and lots of money.

These executives are invited to host prestigious panels attended by other executives in which they cluck and caw about how clever they are for knowing so much about what makes a great “community.”

The reality of community relations (note the lack of quotes) is much different. The community manager is the developer’s first line of defense against the ravenous piranhas that our players can sometimes become.

These are the people weeding through hostile threads at two in the morning, scouring page after page of vitriol searching for that rare nugget of truth which can be brought before the game team and acted upon.

Community managers get kicked in the face on a regular basis and come back day after day solely because of their undying devotion to the game and the players they love.

They’re tougher than you are. They shrug off insults and personal attacks that would send your designers, artists, and coders running for their mama’s arms. They suffer the slings and arrows that would send those self-serving buzzword-compliant executives whimpering for the safety of their leather-lined desk chairs.

They are underpaid [points to self], undervalued, and under-appreciated. They possess unique talents that are marginalized and shrugged off on a daily basis, standing firm as the unwavering anchor of their communities.

They are warriors, They are bad-asses. And it’s time that the MMO industry stands up and recognizes that it would be screwed without them.

On this panel before you, I have assembled the best of the best. Four people who have walked through fire, taking bullet after bullet on behalf of their game teams. They aren’t here to impress you with buzzwords; they’re here to show you what community really means on the front lines of this industry.

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