Rebecca Ford

Levelling Up: Digital Extremes’ Rebecca Ford on balancing community expectations and the importance of understanding fandom for Warframe

What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day at work?

I am the live operations and community director for Warframe, the online action game that Digital Extremes opened to the public on PC in March 2013 (and in closed beta the year before!) My day begins and ends with ‘what’s on fire’ or ‘what needs to be deployed and when.’ The ‘need’ is identified by two parties – what do the devs need to do to hit their next update, or what does the community need to improve their experience. Then these needs are balanced against our work week, community expectations, and we do our best to hit those goals. My role is relatively unique in that I work with both the Warframe dev team – directly relaying the community’s concerns, ideas, and suggestions to the development team and with the community at large, creating relationships, setting expectations and putting out fires. My team is a living, breathing conduit for our constantly evolving game.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land this job? 

Generally speaking you need to have a good grasp on game development technologies to be able to do the main part of your job: communicate. You are eternally communicating about the art and science of developing games – and you are directly integrating a community into that process. I am not a programmer, but I can get around the Warframe development tools relatively well; being able to communicate high concepts and paying attention to the details matters. Writing clearly and concisely is key!

If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?

Participation or understanding of any one given fandom is important – the ability to relate the creative process to the consumption process and act as a conduit of that is key. I would look for someone who can speak knowledgeably and objectively on a fandom, backed by a university degree of some kind to support their understanding of media and communication. Technical skills are a plus (our team often dabbles directly in game development tools to further our knowledge!) Having the capacity to work on a team with many fast-moving moving parts and having a can-do attitude, are key qualities we look for in candidates.

What opportunities are there for career progression?

In community, we start with coordinators, and then we specialize. You either specialize on a platform, or in a program. It’s a simple divide that creates an extremely knowledgeable and diversely skilled team. You become a leader of a specific platform – like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, or Xbox One – or you become a leader of a program, such as our user-generated content program, a program we call TennoGen, that works directly with artists in the community. Coordinators grow into senior coordinators, and eventually managers! The  technical folk become community developers and provide support in the game directly.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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