Community Manager looking for job

As of this past week, I am no longer employed at gamerDNA and I’m now looking for a new job.  Myself and five others were laid off last week, freeing up the company a bit so that it can operate at break even and continue to do awesome things.  A news article about the situation came out earlier this week with some quotes from our CEO Jon Radoff, if you’re interested.

Working at gamerDNA was an amazing experience and has helped my career in huge ways.  I’m very thankful to Jon and the rest of the staff for giving a (at the time) 20 year old from Ohio the opportunity to work at a video game internet startup.  I came on board in March of 2008 as the eighth employee, when the company was still meeting at Jon Radoff’s house and our desks were his dining room table.  I saw the company grow quite rapidly, move into its first office, change our name and rebrand itself, and launch GamerDNA.com in early June of 08′.  I remember the meeting that we had where we decided on the new logo, the awesome work of art from the super talented Sean Duhame.  Everyone was always involved and kept up to date on what was going on in the company, and I came to love our Wednesday “Lunch and Learns”, where the company would have lunch together and update everyone on the progress that we were making and any big news or exciting projects.

I’ve been to PAX twice now, I’ve been to BlizzCon, GDC and E3…all because of GamerDNA.  Two years ago it was just a dream to be able to go to those events (especially E3..such a video game nerd’s dream!).  I even had the pleasure of launching a website at E3 and representing the company in interviews for MTV.com and Current.TV.  Most recently I put together all the PR for our GamerDNA.com relaunch on Sept 2nd, which resulted in the most coverage GamerDNA.com had ever received for one launch.

GamerDNA gave me a huge amount of opportunities and responsibilities, and for that I am very grateful to Jon Radoff and the rest of the team.  What started out as an entry level marketing position (“Game Talent Lead”), later turned into a Community Management role and then ultimately my role as Online Marketing Manager.  It was a great ride.

If you haven’t yet, please check out yesterday’s blog post which included a picture of the product team at gamerDNA.  It was taken last week at our company party at Trapper Markelz’s house, and it shows a great group of guys that have become my surrogate Boston family.

So what’s next?

Now I’m interested in going to my next dream job, a Community Management job at a video game developer or publisher.  I don’t have anything lined up just yet, so I’m still looking and applying to various job opportunities out there.  I’m looking to take what I’ve done at gamerDNA, take all my passion for Social Media and Community Management, and turn that into a career at a game company.  That’s my hope, at least :)

If you’re interested in finding out more about all the cool stuff I’ve done in my time at gamerDNA and more details on my experience, please check out my LinkedIn Page: http://www.linkedin.com/in/samhouston .  I’ve updated it quite a bit and it’s basically a web version of my resume.  If you’d like to get in touch with me directly, please shoot me an email at Sam AT QforQ dotcom.  I’m willing to relocate for a new job, and I’m especially excited about CM roles that will give me the opportunity to interact directly with gamers, as well as work with press and represent the company at events like PAX.

Other things on the horizon are a relaunch of GameIndustryTweet.com with updated pages and a new look….and some time relaxing and catching up on all these video games I need to finish :).

Thanks for reading this far, if you know of any exciting Community Management gigs in the game industry – Please give me a shout!

-Sam Houston

The Product Team at GamerDNA (Photo)

Last week we got the GamerDNA product team together at Trapper Markelz’s house for some Beatles Rock Band, food, and beers.  It was a great time with lots of fun had by all.  Before we all headed out for the night, we all got around the GamerDNA Banner and took a photo.

From left to right, Trapper Markelz (VP Product), Collin Waid (Interface Engineer), Steve Sopp (Data Architect), Antares Meketa (Engineer), Jon Radoff (CEO), Sam Houston (ME!! Online Marketing Manager), Russell Miner (Engineer), Sean Duhame (Creative Director).

From left to right, Trapper Markelz (VP Product), Collin Waid (Interface Engineer), Steve Sopp (Data Architect), Antares Meketa (Engineer), Jon Radoff (CEO), Sam Houston (ME!! Online Marketing Manager), Russell Miner (Engineer), Sean Duhame (Creative Director).

I’ve spent more time with the above dudes than I have with any one else in the past couple years.  They’re like family, and they’re all more than awesome.

I’ve been playing a lot of Aion lately

I’ve gotten back into MMOs in a big way…with Aion sucking in my PC gaming life almost completely. I’ve been playing it since it came out in September, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit!

With the way I like to play games, I actually don’t particularly enjoy MMOs and I especially don’t enjoy RPGs that much (Although I admit I haven’t given RPGs that much of a chance…I’m thinking I’ll check out Dragon Age: Origins or Fable 2, to get a taste of some RPG-type games). The reason I think I like Aion so much is that I’m playing it with a Legion (guild) that we formed from basically just a group of friends from my hometown in Ohio. It is great to play with a group of guys that I haven’t talked to very much in years, and I’m really looking forward to playing more and more with them in the months and weeks ahead.

I’ve also been using the time playing Aion to listen to podcasts…something I haven’t done since I moved a block from work, and something I really miss. I mostly listened to podcasts when I was commuting to work, so the 7 minute walk to work isn’t really conducive to listening to podcasts. Grinding mobs in Aion is the perfect task for listening to podcasts, and I’ve been getting back in to some of my favorites, as well as some new ones!

My favorite podcasts so far for grinding in Aion:
-The Abyss
-The Aion Fancast
-The Giant Bombcast
-This Week in Tech

I’m hoping to get back in to Geekbox.Net, along with the rest of the new and old video game podcasts from former 1up-ers. As a sort of tack on to my last post about Game Communities and Game Media, the video game podcast space is going to be growing a lot more as all these sites create new podcasts. I’m looking forward to checking out the new Game Informer Podcast, ShackNews podcast, 1up podcast, GeekBox, RebelFM, and the many others that I’m sure are going to crop up due to the shake up in the game journalism industry. Hopefully it results in a wealth of great content and great conversations about video games and the game industry.

I’m also thinking about getting into podcasting again. I’d like to join a video game podcast as a co-host, or a reoccurring guest host. I miss doing stuff like that, and I think I would enjoy having that sort of outlet again. If anyone out there reads this and is doing an awesome podcast, give me a shout!

Anyways…I kind of wrote this blog post to test my new Posterous blog, which should be hooked up to my blog at QforQ.com. I want to use this new tool to make it easier for me to blog and upload pictures on the go..which will result in more content on QforQ.com.

Thanks for reading guys, I hope to have more posts in the near future about social media and game communities :)

Here is my level 28 Gladiator in Aion:

Posted via email from samhouston’s posterous

The Consolidation of Game Media and Game Communities

Ramble about a trend I’ve been thinking about for awhile:

This is a trend that I’ve noticed over the past year, and it’s something that I’m obviously paying close attention to since I work for a game community:

As media is changing and leaving print media more and more, we’re seeing the media companies adapting to these changes in interesting ways.  Most recently we’re seeing companies like GamePro (IDG) and Game Informer (GameStop) invest money in bringing their readership and community from their magazines onto the web to their online communities.

This isn’t anything new or mind blowing…heck, 1up.com did this years ago with Elecontric Gaming Monthly and Computer Gaming World/Games for Windows Magazine.  (I’m wondering if 1up was just ahead of its time, or if it lacked some sort of feature set or push from Ziff to really get it to making bucket loads of cash)

Over the past week we’ve seen some pretty interesting changes:

  • Garnett Lee, former executive editor for 1up.com left to join GameFly Media as their Editorial Director.  GameFly doesn’t just rent games any more..they own several different gaming websites, including Shack News.
  • John Davison’s company/website WhatTheyPlay.com was sold to IGN, and now he’s leaving to go join GamePro as their Executive Vice President of Content.  His goal is to “reboot” GamePro, with better integration between the website and the magazine.
  • Billy Berghammer (Director of Gaming Editorial) is no longer at G4TV.com…and I suspect others left as well.  I’m wondering what direction G4TV.com will take now, if any change at all, since they just relaunched their website at E3 and dedicated a lot of resources to it.
  • GameInformer totally revamped and relaunched their website, turning it into a community website with editorial content in the spotlight.  It’s very 1up.com, and the site is looking great.

We’ve also got the new Electronic Gaming Monthly reboot happening this winter..which promises to be some sort of mix between Web and Magazine content.

We’re also seeing existing and new media sites recognize the importance of community and invest in interesting ways to help facilitate community.  For instance, Giant Bomb now tracks your PSN, Xbox Live, Steam and World of Warcraft Achievements.  Not only that, Giant Bomb is some sort of hybrid Wiki site mixed with an editorial site, the editorial brought to you by Jeff Gerstmann, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, and Vinny Carravelli (Sorry if I butchered your name man!).  All of these guys are former GameSpot guys, and they’re doing some interesting stuff.  As a side note: the parent company of Giant Bomb, Whiskey Media, is doing some interesting stuff in general. Keep an eye on them!

Other examples of news sites being communities would be Destructoid.com, Kotaku.com and Joystiq.com…all three of which are blogging sites that are growing more and more, and being taken more seriously by the game industry..and by themselves.  The amount of people reading these blogs every day is huge, and their power is not something to underestimate.

We’ve also got CrispyGamer.com, which is carving out its niche with a feature and video content based offering, and an advertising model which refuses to take money from game advertisers.

Lastly we have the GameSpot’s and IGN’s of the world…humongous game news sites and communities on the web that inform and entertain tens of millions of gamers every single day.

Anyways…I think there is some *really* interesting stuff happening out there right now, as some huge companies (and even smaller startups like Whiskey and Crispy Gamer) all invest in making the next version of the Media/Community site for gamers.  This is definitely something I’m going to be keeping an eye on, and I’m excited to see what everyone does next, as they all push each other to do something new and interesting in the game industry.

Are there any trends that you’re noticing?  Do you think any of the companies above are wrong about their approach, or one of them is totally dead on?  I’m interested in what others think of this trend..what others think is the larger story.  Let me know!

September in a Nut Shell

The last month and a half have been very crazy, wildly different, and sometimes a rough journey.

The week after my last blog post, I went down to Hartford to see Blink 182 and Weezer in concert.  I had pit tickets and I was very excited since it was the first time I’ve ever seen them that close in concert.  Unfortunately, the night before the concert DJ AM died, a guy who was a very close friend to the Drummer and Bassist of Blink (Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus), and was the only other person (other being Travis) who survived a fatal plane crash last year.  This made the concert very emotional for the guys in the band, with the guys being visibly upset on stage during the show.  You definitely could tell that this was a tough show for everyone, and about four songs in Mark had the band and everyone in the audience have a moment of silence.

It was a really interesting experience for me as a fan, to be a part of this very emotional and very personal time for these guys.  This is a band that is very responsible for my musical tastes today, and a group of guys I’ve admired as people and musicians for several years.  All in all I’m very glad that I could be there and be a part of this historical moment for the band, and it’s something that I’ll remember for a long time.

Now that brings us into the first week of September, which was the launch week of the new GamerDNA.com.  This was something that we had worked on for a substantial amount of time, and it was my first PR project that I worked on entirely by myself.  I had to make the PR plan, write the press release, coordinate all the press interviews and demos, and much more.  It was an interesting learning experience since I had never done anything like that before, but it was satisfying in the end.

All the work ended up paying off when we had write-ups in Kotaku, Mashable, VentureBeat, Big Download, Fast Company, SideQuesting, and an appearance by myself on GamerTag Radio Podcast.

The night before we officially announced everything, I stayed up way too late making a Walk-Through video of the new site and uploaded it to YouTube.  I’ve never done that before either…and Adobe Premiere continues to be a big frustration, particularly when it comes to Codecs.  I’m happy with the outcome, though, so check it out here!

Literally the next day after the launch, I was on a plane to Seattle for PAX 2009.  I spent my first day in Seattle hanging out with my friend Dayne, who is an Associate Producer and Community Manager for Monolith.  Dayne gave me a tour of the Monolith (my first game studio I’ve ever been to!), and it was very cool.  Everyone at Monolith is very nice, and the team there is working on some very cool stuff!

After that, Dayne gave me a tour of Seattle..and I’ve got to say..I love that city.  There were some awesome parts of the city, and it really reminded me of parts of Cambridge/Boston (except the crappy winter weather).  Seattle was officially added to my “Cities I wouldn’t mind living in” list, alongside San Francisco.

The remainder of the weekend was All PAX, all the time.  On Saturday I had my community management panel, which I put together with help from Morgan Romine from Ubisoft, and our awesome panelists.  Here is the description of the panel:

Saturday, 1:30pm – 2:30pm, Unicorn Theatre

Twitter and Beyond – New Game Communities Online

Online game communities are changing rapidly as social media is being used more and more by gamers. No longer are people primarily congregating on official game forums. They’re talking with each other on Twitter, Facebook, and in other types of online communities about games. For this reason, Community Managers are actively leveraging social media tools to keep online communities informed and engaged with their games. This panel will discuss the exciting transition of game companies using social media to build, communicate with, and engage with players as well as highlight the macro-trends that impact all online communities. Panelists include executives from both the game development and social media side of the fence.

Panelists Include: Michelle Broderick [Moderator] – (Marketing Director and Community Manager, Yelp.com), Morgan Romine (Fragdoll Team Captain, Ubisoft), Jaap Tuinman (Director of Social, Community, & Online Marketing, EA), Sam Houston (Online Marketing Manager, GamerDNA), Meghan Rodberg (Senior Manager of Online Community Relations, Turbine)

The panel had a pretty good attendance, with mostly game industry folks in the crowd (very weird for PAX?). The audience questions after the panel were particularly good, and I enjoyed helping out one of the PAX Enforcers by answering her questions about how to get into the Game Industry and Community Management.

PAX this year was very good for me personally, and the feedback and conversations I had with people about GamerDNA were also very good. The previous year’s PAX was basically GamerDNA’s coming out show, so it was interesting to note the differences between last year and this year’s conversations. GamerDNA had much better brand recognition amongst industry folks and press, which makes me really happy as member of a team of people that work non-stop to bring more awesome to GamerDNA and the Game Industry as a whole.

The remainder of the month was up and down, with the last two weeks being a bit rough.  I found out that a guy I graduated High School with was killed in Iraq by an IED earlier in the month.  That shook me up a bit and definitely made me think about some things differently.

That same weekend I also learned that a very close friend and coworker, Trapper, had a terrible tragedy happen to his family.  His baby daughter had died earlier that morning, and I received the call from another coworker/friend who was helping out.  The next few days were very sad, but it was great to see how we all came through for our friend in need.  Everyone at work showed up for the Memorial Service, and I was very proud to be a part of such a great company and a great group of people.  Trapper gave a great Eulogy for his daughter June, and I encourage everyone to check out his blog post and give him and his family some support.

Life continues to be a journey..filled with awesome times, and sometimes I’m put in some trialling situations.  Here’s to hoping that October delivers more awesome :)