First day back

Today (7/23/2012) was my first day back at EA, otherwise known as Electronic Arts. It also marks my first day back in the video game industry, after a nine month fling in the ever alluring music industry. I’m now a Community Manager for Origin, EA’s one year old digital store and PC Game download client. I’m working alongside J “OneLetter” Goldberg, who previously worked for Volition as the Community Manager for games like Red Faction: Guerrilla and Saints Row: The Third.

Being back in video games, and being back at EA (for the 3rd time)…it honestly all feels quite surreal. The closest analogy I can come up with is your first day back at school, after a long summer break.

As I waited for the shuttle down to EA’s main campus (EA Redwood Shores), I ran into several people that I knew and used to work with. As I walked around the campus and waited for my orientation, I saw several people that I knew and they welcomed me back to EA. It was all a reminder that I used to work for EA..I used to work in video games..and I know some people!

And then came the meetings, meetings with a bunch of new people, and the hazy feeling I had for about half of the day. That feeling that you get when you show up for your first class, or when you sit down at your desk after a long vacation from work. I had a hard time shifting gears, changing my mindset from what works for musicians to what could work for an international public company with over 9,000 employees. I had a tough time remembering community management tactics and strategies for the game industry, as well as remembering what I like to do in this space and what I’m really good at. I knew that I was good and that I had fun with all of these things…but I couldn’t put anything into words just yet.

But luckily it started to come back to me. I started to remember how things worked, remembered all of the great people that I’ve worked with and met in video games, and I started to get genuinely excited about what could be done and what we should do at Origin. That’s not to say that I wasn’t excited before, but now it felt a bit different.

Up until that point, it was hard for me to understand what had happened in the past month. It was only just over a week ago that I was working at a 40 person startup in downtown San Francisco, but now I’m working on the 5th floor of one building that is a part of a campus of four buildings with thousands of employees.

When I left video games last year I was a bit jaded about the whole industry. I was frustrated with where it was going, with some of the latest trends, and with where my career was headed. But now I’m excited again, excited to work with J and the other Community Managers and marketing and public relations folks across EA, to work with the EA.com and Origin teams, and to help shape the future of EA’s relationship with gamers.

The team wants to make an impact and do something a bit different. It’s not going to be easy, but I think we can do it.

Thanks to everyone that reached out to me over the past few weeks and gave me support and words of encouragement, and recently all of the words of congratulations. I’m very fortunate to have a lot of very supportive and friendly people (friends!) in my life.

I’m still going to do some music stuff for fun and outside of work, and I hope to continue to explore my writing on this blog and perhaps other blogs.

Thanks for coming along for the journey! :)

  • DjDATZ

    WB Sam! As for not having words on your first day… One of my good contractor friends told me that for any new job he starts, that he spends the first month or so (could be less) observing, watching and learning how things work around him, before opening his mouth and spewing his opinion. I’ve found it as quite useful advice! 😀 (Granted, I can’t say I’ve changed as often as you have.)

  • Samik Bhowal

    Welcome back to EA Sam!! :)

  • DavidBloom

    Sam, I’m not trying to knock you or be harsh. If anything maybe a little blunt to be honest, I remember when you made your post about quitting bandpage about the fact that you said,

    “My hope is that I can find a way to channel this passion and vision that I have for the future of the music industry into a new role.”

    Then you also said, “I’ve found that Community Management has been a tough field, especially in the video game industry, since descriptions of roles and expectations can often not be in sync.”

    Yet your heading back into the very beast that you don’t have the passion for? I know you are good at it, but I thought you were going to focus on a online music based career? Don’t you think in another 6 months or a year that you’re going to be back in the same position you were with bandpage? I know you have to pay your bills but, no offense meant by this, your posts contradict what your vision was from a couple months back.

    I say keep trucking on, follow your true passion and do what you have to do. I believe that you are extremely talented but you have to find what you will be happy doing for the next 5 years. Not just another “job”.

    -David

    • SamQforQHouston

      Hey David, thanks for making the comment, it’s a good question.

      The week after I announced I was no longer going to be with BandPage, I started meeting with several people in the music industry. I described what I’ve done, what I want to do with music, and the vision I had for artists and how they interact with fans. Everyone was excited by what I described and the vision I had, but almost everyone also said that I’d pretty much have to do this alone. There are too few jobs in the music industry (at management groups, labels, etc) in general, especially for something this specialized and new. In a lot of cases, the job just might not exist.

      So essentially I am faced with the option of trying to find a way to do this on my own. To do that, I need to build up strong relationships and history with a number of different artists. Due to how I’d probably be paid by artists, I’d also have to have several clients that I’d work with at a time. Right now I don’t have enough artists/relationships to go after this and still be able to pay my rent, bills, and food. I’ve decided to go a bit of a different route…

      I also realized during this time two things in particular, both of which lead to my gig at Origin: I’d like more experience working with other Community Managers, and I’d like more experience concepting, launching, and executing community campaigns. I see this opportunity at Origin, since I’m working with a team of people and have access to a number of different community managers that I can learn from and work alongside.

      My plan now is to work at Origin, get lots of great experience at work, and do music stuff outside of work. I’ve made a promise to myself that I’ll continue to push towards an eventual career in music, with the most recent evidence of that being that I bought a pass to the upcoming SF MusicTech Conference in October. I’m also talking to at least one band about doing some social media stuff for them.

      You’re totally right to call me out on this and make those points, and I had the same conversations and debates with myself.

      Thanks,
      Sam