Tips for dealing with your game's community - MCV

Tips for dealing with your game's community

LGC14: Sarah Wellock on how to engage with fans and when to moderate
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During the London Games Conference Sony XDev Europe's lead community manager Sarah Wellock offered a number of tips and tricks on how to engage with your game's community.

Wellock explained understanding your community is key, as every group is different, from their interests down to the way you talk and engage with them.

She added that the first port of call should be to ensure you have a clear strategy of what social platform you'll be engaging with users on, as this can change everything you do.

"Knowing if your game belongs on those channels is really difficult," said Wellock, adding it requires a lot of thought to know whether you should use sites such as Facebook or Twitter, or both, and what you hope to get out of those platforms.

Another area community managers must focus on, she said, is listening to users by looking at their comments, how people are responding to posts, and what they are saying about the game.

Wellock cited an example between LittleBigPlanet 2 and 3 where the team learnt of a bug in the former from the community, but after users actually liked the 'feature', the developer has now introduced 16 layers that players can build with in LittleBigPlanet 3.

Moderation

One area to tread carefully in is moderation of the community. Wellock explained that moderation on social media is becoming increasingly important, as Facebook pages can quickly become a very hostile place if left unchecked.

She said this then creates a "really awful place" where new visitors may see just a few comments and then be turned off engaging with the brand.

Wellock highlighted the example of a company which came under fire for the way it advertised one of its product. The firm then began banning people who said anything negative about it, which in turn sparked more criticism and resulted in some long-time consumers shunning the brand and its products completely.

"It's a really clear cause and effect of what you can do to your community," she said.

Wellock also discussed how some criticism through social media channels can become personal, but that it's important community managers know that the people who shout the loudest do not always represent the people who buy your game.

She highlighted an example where she received death threats while working at Rocksteady due to issues with the Catwoman DLC for Arkham City, and also received a bag of fake cat heads in the office every day for a week with a message to fix the DLC.

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