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Guest Blog: Born to work with communities

The title of this blog isn’t exactly my words, but a line that was included in a recent email I received from the COO at Monumental Games. Not being one to blow my own trumpet; and why would I when you can employ someone to blow it for you, working with any community, whether its games or film has its ups and downs and is a bit of a niche role, as apposed to quiche roll.

Working as a Community Developer for a computer games company as well as pulling together a production team for a full length feature film in my spare time, certainly sounds like a wonderful life. In fact, why don’t I just admit that it really is!

I work for Monumental Games, who are based in the Lace Market area of Nottingham and are currently developing a number of titles across various platforms. Probably the most well known title is MotoGP 09/10, which was developed for Capcom on the X-Box360 and PS3 consoles. However, while it’s great working on such a high profile game, Monumental also have a growing online studio, working on Hunter’s World, a massively multiplayer online game and Little Horrors, a 3D Facebook game that’s already managed to establish a huge fan-base of vampire and werewolf fans! Aimed mainly at social gamers, Little Horrors manages to bring back the games we used to play in the school playground, like tag and bulldog, but with a fiendish twist involving young werewolves and vampires.

So what’s my role in all this?

As a Community Developer, my job is all about communication, ensuring that the end user, the customer who buys the game, is kept up to date with game developments. I also have to ensure that the game development team/s is made aware of what the end user is saying about our products. While this would appear to be a simple task of passing information back and forth, in all truth it can often be a complete nightmare. Translating what a game coder is saying into plain English can sometimes be like translating Russian into Mongolian, back to Chinese and then Klingon. Coders work with numbers, not words and customers understand plain English. If you’ve seen the Matrix, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. However the same applies when passing information from the customer to development team. A customer may send me an email simply stating that. “Your game is rubbish”, which doesn’t happen very often, but passing this statement back to the team is of no value whatsoever. So, it’s my job to gather constructive feedback that can actually be used by the team to improve on the game they’re currently developing. I use all of the main social media applications to capture feedback and to communicate the customer including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and various Forums. All of these have to be updated on a regular basis, so I’m constantly thinking of new things to say, even when there isn’t too much new information to pass on.

Do I get to play the games, of course I do. If I’m going to write about them and explain how they work to the customer, then I have to fully understand the in’s and out’s of every game we’re working on. Well that’s my excuse for playing games all day and I’m sticking to it!

So, that was a little insight into my day job, a role that has many transferable skills that can be used in my spare time when working on Zombie Hood.