Moving to San Francisco and working at Perfect World Entertainment

I've got a job!

Senior Social Media Marketing Coordinator – That's my new position at Perfect World Entertainment, a video game developer and publisher in Redwood Shores (South Bay of San Francisco, CA).

After about two months on the job hunt and several interviews and meetings with various companies, I was able to find a great opportunity with an exciting company – Perfect World Entertainment.  I will be joining the Marketing and PR team in just a couple weeks, working alongside ambitious and energetic folks that are trying to take over the Free to Play MMO space in the US.

Perfect World is probably most commonly known as the developer publisher of Perfect World International, their main MMO in the states which gamers can play for free, but can also buy items in-game through their cash mall.  You've also probably seen the Perfect World cash cards at your local 7-11 or GameStop.

Perfect World also has two other games out now, Jade Dynasty and Ether Saga Online.  They've got a number of new games coming out next year, with Kung FOO! coming out very soon.  What most people probably don't know, though, is that Perfect World published the popular PC RPG "Torchlight", which is a game that released this fall and was developed by former Diablo/Blizzard devs at Runic Games in Seattle.

To sum things up – Perfect World is a very ambitious company that is very successful in China and they want to make a big impact in the US.  Their current games are doing pretty well (1 million active players across their three F2P MMOs right now, I read in an article most recently), and they've got quite a few coming out in the new year and beyond.  They're doing some exciting publishing deals (Torchlight for example), and I'm very excited join Perfect World as they transition into a new phase of growth and expansion.

As I mentioned in my last post, the prospect of focusing 100% of my energy on using social media to build game communities and market games is *very* exciting to me..and it is ultimately what made this position a real winner for me.  I'll be joining a great team with some big goals and a totally open canvas in terms of what we can do.

Perfect World has community managers for their games, and I'm very excited to work with them to help build stronger and bigger communities around their games. With three games out now (and more coming next year), we should have a wealth of content to share and talk about with our community.  I'm going to try to really push things forward in the F2P MMO space, which based on some of my research doesn't seem to get a lot of love in the community department.  I'm very excited to get on Twitter, Facebook, build our blog presence, and hopefully get into other mediums/platforms so that we can interact with our community in the places that they are online.

Ironically, the week that I accepted the position, Perfect World relaunched their web portal and launched a new company blog.  I encourage you to check out the site – Nice work guys!

This job successfully rolls up my passion for community, social media and marketing into one role – and I'm very excited.  I've got big goals for myself in the social media/game space, and I think this company and this team will help me attain those goals.  I'm looking forward to starting in just a couple of weeks!

The whole F2P MMO space is new to me, and working directly for a game developer/publisher…but I'm looking forward to learning what works, what doesn't, and taking the journey along the way.  If anyone has any suggestions/insights on F2P MMO community, please feel free to contact me!

On a different  note – I now need to find a place in SF in a very short period of time. If anyone needs a roommate, or knows someone that does, *please* contact me ASAP.  I need everyone's help, since I need to move cross country *very* soon.  Thanks for any help you can provide!

In summary…I'm scared, excited, and very anxious to start a new chapter of my life in San Francisco at an awesome game company and in a dream role of a job.  It was a great Christmas/Birthday present, and I want to thank everyone for all the encouragement, support, and help that got me here!

Thanks!

Sam "QforQ" Houston

What kind of gamer are you?

This week has already been a long week at work, mostly because monday we stayed until about 3am getting a brand new Quiz system implemented and up and running.  Along with the launch of a brand new quiz system we launched 3 new quizzes for players to take.  Now instead of just the Bartle Test (and the MMORPG and Guild quizzes that are no longer with us), we have a Gamer Decades of Influence quiz and an FPS multiplayer and RTS multiplayer playstyle quiz.

Check out our brand new quiz page here and take some tests!

See the bottom of the post for my results.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for what this system can do and we’re working right now on some new types of signatures for people to

use to show theirresults. We’re also kicking around ideas for new types of quizzes that we could put out there for people to take.

Maybe you guys could help out…why kind of quizzes would you like to take? Personally, I’m thinking of putting together a quiz for PVPers.

Lastly, I’ve gotta give a shout to Casualties of WAR , my new Warhammer Guild which is expanding to over 100 people! I’ll also give a shout to Rick over at /Random for being a nice guy and checking out my blog!

Thanks guys, until next time..happy gaming!

(PS. Since I’m being considered a blogger now I figure I should live up to that title and blog
more often now..like more than once every 2 months.  You can count on more entries as time goes on :))

Here are my results:

Continue reading

Wow, what an exciting week

Like the title alludes to, this week has been exciting..but really the past two weeks have been good for me.  Since a decent amount of stuff happened I’m just going to dive in, so hold on!

First off, I’m very excited and happy to announce that I’ve been promoted to Community Manager at gamerDNA.  It was official last week but I wanted to sit on it first before I announced it on my blog.  I’m very stoked to be in this position and I’ve been told gamerDNA will be sending me to gaming events in the future to represent the company to gamers.  I’ll also be more active on forums, blogs and in game communities to help represent the company there.  In just about two weeks I’ll be at PAX giving away gamerDNA t-shirts and inviting people to our gamerDNA party so if you’re there, please let me know and you’ll get an invite and a shirt!

I’m still getting used to the job and all the new responsibilities and expectations but I’m enjoying it.  I love the challenge and it is fantastic to be able to work with two things I love to do:  working with games and working with gamers.  Over the coming months you’ll be seeing a gamerDNA podcast unveiled(finally), some more contests for the 360Voice and gamerDNA communities, as well as a TON more blog posts on the gamerDNA company blog .

This week brought the August meeting of the Boston IGDA Chapter which was sponsored by Harmonix (Guitar Hero 1&2, Rock Band, etc) and Ralph Baer, who basically created home video gaming back in the 60s, was the speaker.  Due to the awesomeness of Mr. Baer and Harmonix we had about 5 guys representing gamerDNA at the meeting.  Mr. Baer’s speech was very interesting because we gained so much insight into how little these guys had back then technologically, but all that they did with what they had.  In today’s world you could call this guy a hacker, making the craziest inventions out of what little they had, bringing the video game console to your living room.

After Mr. Baer finished his presentation Harmonix took over the stage and had the E3 preview build for Rock Band 2 for everyone to play.  Incase you don’t know…Rock Band 2 hasn’t even came out yet and it has been played by hardly anyone, so it was super awesome to be able to play the game.  Steve Sopp and I took the stage and rocked out, which

you can see here:

Steve Sopp (far left) on guitar and Sam Houston on Drums

Steve Sopp (far left) on guitar and Sam Houston on Drums

You can also watch a slighly embarrassing video (for me) of us playing Rock Band 2, shot by the Harmonix job recruiter.

Finally, I’ve decided to join the Warhammer guild "Casualties of WAR ", ran by a few bloggers/fansite people I knew from Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.  The guild is made up of a *ton* of MMO bloggers/podcasters and industry people, so it should be a pretty awesome time.  I’m really looking forward to joining these folks in ventrilo and having a good time sacking cities and taking down some keeps.

That about wraps it up, soon I’ll be getting ready for our gamerDNA trip to PAX and I’ll be sending out invites to the gamerDNA party (with free booze!).  Stay tuned :)

Time to catch up

I thought I’d use this blog entry to try and catch up with what has been happening over the past six months. I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet because otherwise you could write a small novel about what all has happened since the last real blog entry, so here are the important things.

Back in July I became “Uncle Sam” when my sister had a cute little boy named Adrian:

Adrian

He’s been a blast to help take care over the last six months and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of his life. I look forward to making sure he likes good music, taking him to fun things with his uncle and making sure he gets an introduction to video games. I did my duty as a nerdy uncle and bought him a “Level 1 Human”jumper from Jinx.com and he should be able to wear it some time this summer.

A few weeks after Adrian was born I flew out to the SOE Fan Faire in Las Vegas. Through some convincing of the community management team for SOE they agreed to pay for my plane ticket out to Fan Faire. Las Vegas was a lot smaller than I thought it would be and it was ridiculously hot…when there was a breeze it felt like you were standing outside an oven. Since I was only 19 years old at the time I couldn’t really take part in the drinking and the gambling so that made the trip kind of lame, not to mention the Rio is a pretty boring hotel that is off the strip.

Overall, though, the trip was awesome and I got to meet tons of people in the MMO industry and the community around SOE games. This was my first chance to finally meet John Findlay who at the point of our meeting was the CEO of Uberguilds and I had only talked to on the phone and exchanged emails with. I also got to meet Ian Jones, the server/hardware guy for The Uberguilds Network. The guys were nice enough to let me stay in their room at the Rio, where I slept on the fold out couch and got up early every morning to setup our Uberguilds Radio booth.

Fan Faire Oh yeah, the whole point of us going to Fan Faire was that Uberguilds Radio was going to have a booth setup in the main Fan Faire hall and broadcast live all week. The broadcast went great and it couldn’t have been such a huge success without the help of TxTurbo who was our knight in shining armor and came in to make our broadcast what it was. TxTurbo came with a video camera, his laptop, mixing board, several mics, an LCD screen, speakers, a little marquee and more. This dude really made our booth stand out and we absolutely blew the competition out of the water. We filmed interviews with people all weekend and it put Uberguilds Radio on the map as a great source for MMO coverage. What we did in Vegas really showed the potential for what we could do with a relatively small amount of people, some hardware, and a love for video games. You can bet we’re going to be doing more of this stuff in the future…hopefully later this year.

I wanted to also mention that I met a lot of awesome people at Fan Faire, all of them being people I had either talked to online and become friends with or never talked to at all. Scott Hartsman was an awesome dude to meet and was so nice to me, it was unbelievable how cool he was to me..just some internet radio kid 😛 I also finally got to meet Steve Williams, who I interviewed back in March of 2007 about Vanguard’s Diplomacy and he too was an awesome dude. I want to give some shout outs to Silas Morse(Vanguard programmer), Troy from Voyages of Vanguard, the Flying Labs guys(Jess, Troy, Rusty), all my old friends from The Matrix Online(and even some guild mates), Brasse, and everyone else that we met at Fan Faire!

After that I went to Gen Con in Indianapolis, Indiana and filmed several interviews with game companies, with the help of Dan Salters from Uberguilds. There we got to meet Cuppa Jo from NCSoft, Theresa Prudenz and the rest of the Flying Labs Studios people, more Warhammer Online devs and that was about it. I hated Indy because it sucked to try to find a parking spot and if I had a choice I’d probably get a hotel room and walk next time because it was just absolutely shitty trying to park there.

Fast forward a few months and I started and ended a job from hell at Subway, I registered for the winter semester at Franklin University to study Marketing, and I started a job at Best Buy in the media department selling video games.  On November 21st GuildCafe officially announced that they had acquired The Uberguilds Network and Findlay and Ian now work for GuildCafe full time.  Dan and I both still don’t work for a salary and we’re currently considered volunteers.  Uberguilds Radio is still in operation and we’re currently making business plans for the future that will hopefully include it becoming a part of the GuildCafe business plan and become a full time job for me.

Right now I’m taking a business principles class at Franklin that is all online and I’m reading a ton of books about internet radio, radio, and marketing.  I’ve been told that GuildCafe is very interested in me working for them full time and possibly moving out to Boston to work directly with them.  I’m just concentrated on being as qualified as possible for any job that they want me to do and coming up with a solid plan for the station.  While this has caused a lot of stress on me because I want to work for them so bad I’m trying to stay patient and work hard to prove to them that I’m worthy of being employed.

Well that’s about it….besides the fact that I was let go from Best Buy(I was seasonal), I’m out of a job and I bought an Xbox 360 for myself for Christmas.  Maybe I’ll write some other time about the 360 😛  Until then I hope you can read my ramblings and have a good day :)

Late Resolution: I should start blogging again

I should probably use this since I just spent about 100$ for hosting this for another year.  I partly did it so I can have my own personal email address that isnt tied to anything work and I own completely….and if I ever need a file server I can host stuff on here and not worry about bandwidth or disk space.

Lots of stuff is happening these days,  I might start updating this this week to track my progress in school, track how things are going with GuildCafe and what has happened with that…and just life.  Sounds like a plan!  Tons of stuff has happened since I last updated and I should get back into this!  I’ve become an uncle, GuildCafe acquired The Uberguilds Network, I went to Las Vegas for the first time and covered SOE Fan Faire, I took a semester off from college and switched schools….tons of shit happened!  I’ll try to catch you up today!

Do fansites reflect the games and their communities?

I’ve been working with fansites for various MMO games for the past two years and as of late I’ve had to survey the internet for fansites for various upcoming MMO games. As I searched for established and successful fansites for the newest crop of AAA titles I discovered something: Different game communities have stronger fansite communities than others. Now this may sound very obvious and nothing new, it really made me think if the quality of fansites is in direct relation to the quality and/or strength of the MMO community. I also wonder if the quality of fansites for the game reflects the amount of hype for the yet to be released MMOs.

What I thought particularly interesting is that it seemed to be all or nothing: Either a game’s fansite collection was poorly developed or the game’s fansite collection was strong. Perhaps someone comes in near the beginning and makes a strong fansite and then out of competition others crop up and set the bar higher. This cycle could continue until you get the behemoth fansites that are in the top 300k Alexa rankings and have thousands of users. Maybe the fansites for the other games have not done this yet and the talented community members have not chosen to step up and create the next big fansite? These are all questions running through my head, and perhaps you could tell me your thoughts.

I’ve noticed that the sites with lacking fansites usually have released barely any information on the game and they are still in very closed beta or haven’t began their beta at all. This makes me think that there isn’t enough information out for people to be inspired to create new fansites that will set the bar higher and create this sort of inter-fansite competition. Vanguard would be an example of a game that would go against this idea, though, as it had a very strong fansite community for years before the game released and Vanguard had a very strict NDA that lasted until 3 weeks before the game released. I would probably attribute Vanguard’s strong following and fansite presence because of the all-star development team that supported the game and Brad’s and Keith Parkinson’s icon status.

Why do you think games tend to have strong fansite communities or poor fansite communities, and nothing in the middle? Please tell me what you think in the comments as I’m still fairly new to the fansite community and I’m interested to see what others have to say about this. I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple weeks and would like other’s insight :)

Thanks,

Sam

Hello World! It’s me again!

Hello interwebs, I imagine there is no one out there reading this since I never update it but I thought I’d update just for the sake of writing down what I’ve done. It’s for the memories, right?

This past year has brought me many opportunities and changed my life in a big way. I have attended my first year of college, changed my major from Computer Science to Marketing, I gained a brother and law and I’m expecting to become an uncle any day now, I started two internet radio stations, started my employment with the Uberguilds Network and I’ve began my quest for a career in the video game industry. Those are most of the high lights, the bulk of them happening within the past 7 months. It is stunning all that has happened in a relatively small amount of time and I don’t think I would change anything.

It is funny how things seem to fall in to place when you look back at all that has happened. Since my philosophy class winter quarter I have thought a lot about free will and if everything happens for a reason. From my experiences so far, I believe that everything does happen for a reason. Well, most everything. I think it’s more about what you make of it, than anything.

Now I’m in the middle of my summer vacation and things are happening at light-speed. On June 9th I launched Uberguilds Radio, the evolution of Vanguard Radio. Uberguilds Radio is an internet radio station for the general MMO gamer community which has a focus on featuring both the player base and companies in the industry. Most of the internet radio stations in this niche market focus on the games and what the developers of these games are up to. What we do is focus on the developers and their respective companies but we also focus on the players. This means we interview and feature fansite owners, bloggers, podcasters, prominent guilds, and others. Anyone who has made a significant contribution is someone that we’re interested in.

Uberguilds Radio has given me a lot more responsibility and upped my presence quite a bit in the industry. As the director of the station I’m in charge of contacting all of the various MMO companies that make the games that we cover. I’ve been able to meet several new and exciting people through the radio station and I hope I have made some lasting contacts in the industry. I enjoy this part of the job quite a bit as it is very rewarding when your hard work pays off and you finally land that interview or get the company to commit to work with you. The bad part of the job is that you quickly realize that you have to work on their time, and if that means you have to wait 3 weeks to hear back from them, tough luck.

Through Uberguilds Radio I have been given a lot of new opportunities and been able to do some great things. On August 2nd Sony Online Entertainment is flying me out to Las Vegas for their Fan Faire, an annual player meetup where they show off all of their games and meet with the players. It should be a ton of fun and as far as I know I’ll be the only multi-game radio station to cover the event live. I’ll have a booth setup and a laptop where I can interview developers and players while providing commentary on the events all weekend. It is going to be an awesome experience and I hope to make quite the impression on the SOE staff. Hopefully this will prove to them that I’m not just some 19 year old kid from Ohio that runs a radio station :)

Since I’ve been back home for the summer I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my college choice. I have decided to transfer to Franklin University and studying marketing, while working part time and helping out my family financially. Not only would this save me a lot of money by changing schools, I’d be closer to home and be able to devote more time to Uberguilds and whatever my part time job will be. If I don’t like it, I can always change back or to a different school. I figure I should at least try it.

In other news, a friend of mine has approached me and another mutual friend about helping him start a gaming center in the city we live in. This would be sort of the arcade of the 21st century, with 25+ computers setup with some of the latest hardware and games and several Xbox360 consoles to indulge your gaming needs. All for a few bucks an hour and you can enjoy playing with your friends all day, as much as you want, in one safe place. The friend of mine, his cousin will be the financial backer and the business man, while we are the people in charge of keeping up with the game industry, getting the hardware up and running, and the general operation. To sum it up, he writes the checks and keeps us on task while we do what we do :)

Well that is about all I can think of right now, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I’ll update soon!

-Sam

MMO Industry, why aren’t you mobile yet?

I realize I’m a bit late but I wanted to comment on this apparent rumor that Blizzard is interested in making some sort ofWoW Gone Mobile World of Warcraft mobile application for your cell phones, iPhones, etc. The reason I wanted to add my two cents is mainly just because I’m so excited about the possibilities with this. Everything is going mobile these days, from internet browsing to internet radio, people want to stay connected and our technology is allowing them to do so.

I want to echo what Pocket Gamer said, with this:

“Forget mobile games, and make a mobile application instead. Something that gives you access to guild chat, or other admin aspects of the PC version of WoW. Instead of selling it through mobile operators, Blizzard might tack this onto the regular WoW subscription – pay a quid/dollar extra a month, and get the mobile app.”

I agree, everyone should probably forget about hoping to raid Onyxia on their iPhone. They should instead be excited about how they could manage that raid on their phone, how they could check up on their sales in the auction house, work on crafting a new item, or maybe just chat with their guildies and friends. I doubt these applications would be super complicated to build, definitely not as complicated as trying to fit WOW on a mobile device and have a graphical version playable.

I think in general as video games go more and more online that they should be making mobile tie-ins to their service. To me it’s all about surrounding yourself with your hobby and with something that you love and enjoy. After all, that’s why I do internet radio for gamers. This could do all sorts of good for your brand royalty and after all, the more time people spend in your game the better, right? If you could provide tools for your players that could make it easier for them to do things, like coordinate raids for example, I bet you’d make them quite happy. I’d much rather send out a message on our integrated mobile device raid function than have to coordinate a last minute main-tank change via IM or phone call.

This isn’t the first time that MMO companies have talked about doing stuff like this but I do wonder why WoW has been so slow to act with regards to this. SOE’s The Agency has talked about possibly integrating game features into mobile devices, for instance getting a text message from your own Q when your new car is ready. I’m pretty sure 38 Studios has also talked about integrating into mobile devices, as well as a slew of other things like movies and other media forms. In my opinion more and more companies need to be thinking like 38 Studios and be proactive about the future and lead the way. I think this is the future of MMO/Online gaming and I don’t understand what is taking developers so long to act.

Is Raph Koster’s MetaPlace talking about this? Why hasn’t Second Life done something yet? It’s time to start thinking outside the box and creating an entire experience(in marketing terms, your brand) for your players. It’s just a matter of time and I can’t wait :) What do you think MMO companies should do to break outside the mold and do something new and unique, beyond just adding new ways to PVP and raid?