How to Become a Community Manager in Game Development

7 October, 2021

Have you ever been a part of an online gaming community in an online forum or maybe on Discord? It’s a great way to meet other people who play the games you’re interested in, discuss games together, and share memes, but it can also be a place to give feedback and ask for help—that’s where a Community Manager steps in.

In a game’s official Discord server for example, they’re the person who watches over the gamer flock, representing both the developer and the players. They solve problems, listen to grievances, promote community growth and a sense of togetherness, and basically ensure that a community thrives.

But what’s it like to be a gaming Community Manager exactly? We spoke to our Community Manager, Łukasz Konieczny, who gave us an inside peek into the job.

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Q: What does a gaming Community Manager do?

Łukasz: Surviving and thriving as a Community Manager is, most of all, about building and taking care of the community. Depending on the company you work for, you could be responsible for a wide variety of tasks. At All in! Games a lot of time is spent posting interesting videos, images, and other creative content created by our video team, graphic designers, and copywriters on our channels, like Steam, Discord, and Reddit or organizing and planning events such as community contests. In addition, Community Managers often need to take care of support work—we have to be up to date with what’s going on with different games on the developer’s side, if you work for a publisher like All in! Games, and be able to provide players with solutions after receiving their feedback. At the end of the day, our main goal is to build a common space where everyone can have a good time talking about our games.

Q: Is the job of a Community Manager the same in every company?

Łukasz: No, it varies. For example, at All in! Games the job is focused on community channels like Steam and Discord, while in many other places it’s additionally combined with other jobs, like influencer marketing, social media, marketing, or support. So in many companies, a Community Manager takes care of a wide variety of marketing channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There’s no need for that at All in! Games, since we have separate specialists for each area.

Q: What’s the typical day of a Community Manager like?

Łukasz: Every day is different and that’s actually one of the best parts of the job for me. A typical day usually starts with checking what’s going on on our community channels (our Discord servers, Steam discussions and reviews) and is usually followed by lots of planning activities and meetings with other departments in preparation for future events. On days when big things are happening, such as a game release, gaming show, community contest, or even just an update, the day is usually completely devoted to handling the event. This kind of work can often take place during non-conventional working hours, depending on the event, so it’s important to be flexible. 

Q: What platforms do you work on?

Łukasz: The platform I work on the most is Steam; most of our games are there. Steam also offers many possibilities, like making changes to discussion forums or a game’s store page easily, and other community functions. We’re also working on developing our Discord server. 

We’ve been organizing lots of activities for players on our Discord server lately and want to make it a regular thing so that it becomes our community center, a place players can come to for fun and for help. Sometimes you’d be surprised at how big an effect a seemingly little post can make. I recently posted a poll asking about people’s preference for pineapple on pizza and the response was so big, we were worried our Discord server might actually catch fire! Ultimately, we want our Discord server to be a place where players can discuss their favorite topics and wait for games together—after all, players participate in building our community too. 

Discord is a great place to clearly organize information for players, present multiple games in a neat manner, and gather lots of people in one spot, but Community Managers often use social media too, like Twitter, which is an important part of the video game industry, especially for indie games. It’s also worth getting involved in Reddit and some additional platforms like Game Jolt or Indie DB, although which channel works best depends on the game itself—not all projects are suitable for every platform. 

Q: What are the challenges and bright sides of being a video game Community Manager?

Łukasz: It can be challenging to maintain a professional tone with the players, regardless of the situation. Our industry is technical and problems happen. Players have high expectations for our products and that’s totally okay, but sometimes the final result can be different than what they expected. When this happens, we need to hear players out and make sure that we understand each other. Work can also get really intense, for example, during releases and your multitasking game needs to be on point. Besides handling the community, we get assets from other departments that then need to be assembled into articles or other promotional formats. There’s a lot of responsibility on your shoulders as the assets that need to be published took a lot of time to make by a lot of other people. It’s important to respect their work by planning communication properly and ensuring that everything gets posted and shared with the community as it should. There’s lots of collaboration between departments here at All in! Games, we’re like a big team, which is great, but it does require a lot of careful planning.

As for bright sides of the job, I think it’s great that we get to share content and see people react to it. I love watching people talk about the content we post and look for clues in images and videos that tease release dates, and it’s great to see them participate in events and contests. We’re all waiting together for a game debut, but I get this special role where I get to share exclusive info with the community and make them happy. Really, for me the best part is getting to see people’s reactions and thoughts, developing a good communication flow, and creating hype. I enjoy helping players too; it makes my day brighter when I can help solve someone’s problem.

Q: How do you become a video game Community Manager? What kind of experience do you need?

Łukasz: I think there isn’t one, fixed educational path if you’re considering this job for your future. In my case, it helped that I had experience with journalism; I wrote news articles and reviews for games, and I also attended gaming events where I was able to observe Community Managers at work. A good way to prepare for this job is to, first of all, be part of a community as a fan. From inside a community you can watch and learn from the local Community Manager and see how different ideas and actions are received by you, the community. Even better would be to organize a community yourself for your favorite game such as a fan site, Discord server, or subreddit and get hands-on experience. 

Besides coming from a journalistic background, I think a lot of Community Managers often have a background of working in communities as a hobby, such as being a volunteer moderator. So really, I think that when it comes to education, there’s no fixed path to follow. However, taking some courses connected with communication and social media can help—communication skills are very important and developing them will give you a solid base to start from. Creativity is another area that it would be helpful to grow your skills in as it will definitely come in handy when planning contests and community activities.

Q: Do you have any tips for people who want to work in this position? What does it take to be a good Community Manager?

Łukasz: First of all, they should be passionate about video games and have a need to share information with other players and fans. That’s how it started for me; I wanted to be a link between the developer and the community. I would think about how to make things more exciting for fans and had ideas on how to tease content. Observing people’s reactions and interacting with them simply made me happy. Interaction with the community is very important because if you build a good relationship with them, communication in general will be much smoother. 

It’s great if you already have experience being part of a community, like, let’s say, you know what it’s like to wait together with other fans for years for a game release. In situations like these, there’s usually some cool activities going on in the community like sharing fan art and other fan content and dissecting and discussing any teasers that come out while waiting for updates. In addition, being in a community gives you precious insight into how a community works; you can identify characteristic memes, sayings, running jokes, all the things that are the bread and butter of a particular community. It will then become easier for you to quickly identify them in new communities and use them yourself.

You should always be interacting with the community and become familiar enough with it and its members that you can generally predict what the community’s reaction to certain situations would be. You should genuinely care about players when you’re answering their questions and listening to their feedback. We can’t always give them satisfying answers, but we can at least let them feel that they are listened to and that their opinion matters.

It’s important to be good at managing yourself and your time. You need to be able to find a balance between planning the fun parts of our job and doing tiresome tasks, like preparing lots of materials and strategizing. You should be flexible and able to adapt to different situations and be ready to react at any time—the community is often the first line of contact for players regardless of the situation, whether it’s a release or a bug, so you need to be able to keep your cool and be ready to give players the solution they’re looking for.

Q: What surprised you the most about the job?

Łukasz: In the past, I thought that a community specialist was more like an event manager, which is partially true, but they have lots of other things to do too. There’s lots of technical work, editing Steam pages, and implementing assets prepared by other teams to increase the marketing value of our titles. I was positively surprised that we could actively participate in producing materials, like, for example, accessing game builds for new updates to take screenshots and find information for update posts.

Applicants often expect the immersive part of the job, getting the interaction going between them and players. In reality, there’s lots of planning and strategizing and many repetitive tasks too. Sometimes we need to put aside the entertainment aspect for a moment and focus on analyzing issues. It might not be the most pleasant task, but ultimately, it will let us engage with the community even better. So basically, it’s not all memes, it’s a serious job too…always has been. 😉

Q: What should an applicant mention when interviewing for a Community Manager position?

Łukasz: First of all, you should communicate what the idea of a gaming community means to you. Having experience interacting with a community is a great asset. It shows that you’re aware of what the publisher’s/developer’s expectations are—you’ve been there yourself, seen the way people react to certain situations, and experienced the typical life of a community. Being a part of a community as a fan makes it easy to switch perspectives and predict people’s expectations.

During a job interview, you should talk about your involvement in Reddit communities, fan sites, and Facebook groups, Steam projects you’ve worked on, Discord groups you’ve moderated, and more. Don’t hide any community experience you’ve had—it all adds up to more than you’d think!

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