“There will be hate you cannot control. In all honesty, it's defeating”
Square Enix's Amy Graves discusses the pressures community managers face ahead of her UKIE Careers Bar talk next week
It's no secret that toxicity in video games communities have risen over the last few year.
Just this morning, it was reported that over 480,000 Overwatch players have received disciplinary action, to the extent where it's holding back progress on the game's development. And such behaviour can always be found outside games themselves via social media.
For Amy Graves, community manager at Square Enix, this can be the toughest part of the job - even it if is a minority of followers. Graves will be speaking about her role at the UKIE Careers Bar, part of the GamesIndustry.biz Career Fair, during next week's EGX 2017. We caught up with her to find out more about how she handles such toxicity.
"Hateful comments can be daily sometimes and a lot of the time you'll find it is just a passionate fan wanting answers," Graves tells us. "It's much easier to be patient and talk to them in a calm manner. However, there will be hate you cannot control, and in all honesty it's defeating.
"This is a community you're working with every single day. You become attached and invested in keeping it a safe and positive place but you do learn to grow a thick skin and divert the conversation away from the negative situation."
Dealing with hate becomes tougher when you take into account the increasing workload of community managers. While it might seem like an easy career for anyone that already spends a lot of time on social media, Graves stresses that there's a lot more to the role than you might think.
"There is a huge misconception that we sit on Twitter all day and chat with fans - though obviously this is part of the job as social media is a big part of our role," she says. "But we also do a lot of pre-planning before launches, continuously creating/testing content to keep fans engaged, event work, tracking KPIs and analytics... There is so much more that goes on within a community manager role than people realise."
The responsibilities of a community manager have changed significantly over the years as the role itself has evolved. As Graves will explain in her talk, no two positions are the same - it depends very much on the company you work for and brands you represent.
"Every community manager I know works differently, every single community is different and what may work and be successful with one may not work with another, so we really have to know our communities well," she says.
"There is a huge misconception that we sit on Twitter all day and chat with fans - though obviously this is part of the job"
"I'll be talking about this more at EGX as it's quite difficult to try and do a day-in-the-life of an overall community manager role. But primarily, responsibilities within teams have definitely increased a lot - particularly tracking performance of our content has helped to make sure that know our community much more comprehensively, and can then feed that back into game teams with greater authority."
What's undeniable is the increasing interaction between consumers and both developers and publishers means demand for community managers is unlikely to diminish any time soon. Graves will naturally explain the merits of this role within your career path, and has plenty of advice for anyone considering applying for such a position.
"You should always be passionate about the community you're working with; otherwise you won't come across as genuine," she says. "You want to create a voice which resonates with the company and the fans, but more importantly you want to be relatable.
She continues: "Be passionate about your brand. This, for me, is crucial as most community managers end up becoming the face of the brand they're working on. You need to have that enthusiasm, love and ultimately be one of the fans of your brand, too. You'll find that most community managers work for a game or company they absolutely admire and know inside-out."
Graves is just one of the many experts speaking at the UKIE Careers Bar next week, which will also feature representatives of Rare, Playground Games, Creative Assembly and more. You can see the full line-up here.