What a video game community manager does and how you can become one
From indie titles right the way up to AAA blockbusters, where there’s an active video game community there needs to be a community manager to go along with it. These talented individuals work to bridge the gap between a game’s players and developers by taking feedback, communicating updates, and fostering a community that people want to be a part of. It’s a popular job role in the gaming industry, so we’re here to tell you what a community manager does and how you can become one.
Class Summary: What Does a Video Game Community Manager Do?
To put it simply, community managers are the player-facing component of a game studio. The job is often multifaceted, with responsibilities ranging from direct community management to more general marketing activities.
They are the mouthpiece of the community, acting as both a conduit for feedback between the players and the developers of a game, as well as deciding on the messaging of updates, patches, and general brand communications. It’s a community manager’s mission to grow a community, make it the best place it can possibly be, and ensure their voice is heard by the wider development team.
Your Primary Quest
A community manager has a few different areas of focus. Generally speaking, the smaller the studio, the broader this job will be, so your experiences may vary depending on where you work.
Alessandro Fileni, Community & PR Manager at CD PROJEKT RED, says that the main components of his job are, “developing social media communication plans, growing the communities around our games, and managing community projects.”
Something that is present in nearly all community management jobs is, you guessed it, managing the company’s community. But what does that actually mean? Well, your players want to feel connected to the game they’re playing, as well as the team behind it. They want the option to meet other players, discuss the game, suggest updates, air grievances, feel part of something — they want a community.
A community manager may go about meeting this need in different ways, but Discord is certainly a common medium to achieve all of the above, as are dedicated game forums.
However, your Discord server won’t run itself. It’ll be on you to make it an enjoyable place to be, from moderating it to be free of nasty characters to community-focused initiatives like game nights, fun events like costume competitions, or anything else that brings players closer to the in-game world.
In smaller studios, the focus of a community manager can be much broader, as marketing, PR, and communications are all closely related to the profession. Madeleine Gray, Senior Community Manager at Brace Yourself Games, counts the following as her primary responsibilities:
Player support and moderation
Content creation and engagement
Influencer outreach/relations and press
Platform management, sales, and marketing
Website management and patch notes
Feedback, reporting, and analytics
Events! (whenever those start up again)
Monitoring community feedback is a key part of the job. If an update that the devs push receives predominantly negative feedback from the community, this is important to highlight to them. It might be that the update becomes more-liked over time, but failure to listen to the community can kill a game.
There’s a lot that community management can encompass, but the general rule of thumb is that you’ll wear more hats in indie studios than you will at AAA developers.
What skills do I need to be a community manager?
A large requirement for community management jobs is strong written communication. While the job’s responsibilities can be broad, many of them share the need for accurate, concise writing.
Whether you’re telling your community about the latest major update to your game, or scheduling social media posts, or helping resolve bug reports, the prerequisite in all of these is the ability to explain yourself clearly.
Madeleine stressed this when we asked her what skills were most important in community management: “I would say patience, adaptability, and writing skills. I think a lot of people don't realize how much community managers have to write. Oh, and also get someone to proofread for you.”
The Skill Tree
Social media platforms
Community management has lots of parallels with social media management, as you can see from the skills required. Some jobs in the field require the candidate to also be the primary social media manager, so knowledge of the key platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Discord, Reddit, and Facebook) is really crucial.
“It’s important to be empathetic, tech-savvy, and always up to date,” Alessandro adds.
Another skill that some community managers will need is the ability to create paid marketing campaigns. If this is new to you, then don’t panic! Lots of the skills you use in community management also carry across to paid marketing, such as copywriting and data reporting.
If you like the sound of making an online community the best it can be, and reckon you have (or can learn) the relevant skills, then it's time to start preparing for that career and building your player profile.
Don't skip the tutorial!
Since community management is so closely tied to marketing, the most beneficial degree types to hold when job searching in this area are marketing/communication qualifications. “Any communication degree or course is sure to help your understanding of the job, and in general you’ll better develop the skill set that you need in the role,” says Alessandro.
Having a degree in this field can help you find that first job and get your foot in the door, but it’s not the only way in.
“There are always methods and strategies you can read about, but I think experience is the best teacher. When hiring for a community manager, even if someone doesn't have direct professional experience, I look to see that they've at least been active and involved in other communities,” Madeleine states.
Since community management revolves so heavily around online communities, there are actually more avenues for you to build experience than you might first think.
“If you're still in school, I'll always recommend you join your school's gaming or esports club because that's how I started out,” Madeleine says. “If your school doesn't have one, make one! Surround yourself with kind, motivated people, and run cool events for your student body together. On top of gaining a lot of relevant experience managing a community, you'll likely come out with some life long friends.”
“Regardless of whether you're in school or not, there are a lot of other volunteer opportunities to help gain experience too. You can volunteer to be a community moderator: Discord, Twitch, and Reddit are good places for this.”
Twitch is a platform that is closely tied to most community management jobs in gaming. In fact, when Twitch streamers come to us and ask where their skills could fit in another job role, we often recommend community management. A Twitch streamer is someone who cultivates a community, keeps them engaged with content, and regularly interacts with them. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like community management!
“You can also volunteer to help out with game jams; itch.io hosts a lot of cool ones online,” Madeleine continues. “You can volunteer at cons, events, or local LAN centers in your area. A lot of major cities in North America have a weekly Smash and/or FGC tournament of some kind.”
Whether you opt to build experience through volunteering or not, we’d also recommend spending some time utilizing the resources on the internet that can support your job search.
There are online courses that can help you here, and countless videos on YouTube that can bring you up to speed with popular content creation software like the Adobe Suite.
Madeleine also mentions how people working in the field are often happy to answer questions about community management that are posed in the right way: “You can try reaching out to the people who run communities that inspire you! You may be surprised how many people will respond to a respectful approach and answer your questions.”
Do your dailies
More than most sectors, community management requires you to have a very thorough grasp of the gaming world. From new releases to industry events to trending memes or topics; you need to have your finger on the gaming scene’s pulse so you can best serve your community.
Alessandro places a high value on staying informed with what other companies are doing in the space. “A very important thing in my opinion is to keep yourself up to speed with the rest of the market, by knowing what other players are doing and specifically how they’re doing it. I’d also recommend the book ‘The Community Manager's Playbook’ by Lauren Perkins, even if a lot of the tools that community managers use on a daily basis change too often to be summarized in a book.”
If you’re considering a career in community management, we’d recommend keeping updated on relevant subreddits and Twitter accounts. Understanding the industry as a whole will help you do the most authentic job possible. The gaming community loves a well-timed, topical joke or meme, but will be quick to call out those that lack authenticity.
Clearing up myths
Most professions have some myths or misconceptions around them, and the same is true of community management.
The most common we hear is that it’s an ‘easy’ job; that community managers spend most of their time talking to people who play their games and posting arbitrarily on socials. In reality, the opposite is true.
Community management is an important part of a company’s marketing and communications team, and requires lots of planning, strategizing, and data analysis. None of the social posts that do well will have been done on a whim, nor can a development studio make major updates to a game based on abstract information. Instead, it’s the community managers taking the time to make sure everything the studio does—from social posts to major game updates—has statistics and reasoning to back it up.
“I don't know if this qualifies as a myth, but when some people think of community management, especially in games, they probably think of having to wrangle angry players,” Madeleine told us. “In many cases, what you're really dealing with are a lot of passionate players who just want to be heard. There will be people who are just toxic, and you need to prioritize your own wellbeing, but when someone is upset it's usually because they're invested in your product or community. They care a lot! I've found that taking the time to listen to their POV and sharing your own can often turn these folks into your biggest supporters.”
Taking care of yourself as a community manager is a sentiment that Alessandro echoes too. “When managing large and vocal communities, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re not the product your community is talking about — both in good and bad situations. Community managers are on the frontline and you need to be able to emotionally detach yourself from the product or company that you’re working for.”
With all that said, it’s important to recognize that this is a role that requires critical-thinking and the ability to communicate well — even in stressful times.
It's dangerous to go alone and unprepared, so be sure you have the right equipment to succeed in your new community management career. Start off with a strong resume and cover letter. Make sure you are polishing and fine-tuning these for each job application. Trust us, this stands out.
But what else can you do to present your skills in community management if you don’t have a formal education? Each of the following will directly showcase your skills to a potential employer:
Streaming on Twitch
Moderating a Discord server or making your own
Moderating a subreddit
Running your own social media page (memes, game updates, industry news, etc)
Completing courses on digital content creation tools (Photoshop, After Effects, etc)
These are five things that could suit you if you’re looking to build community management experience. You can also think about if there’s anything outside of the gaming community that you could do. Does your school have any societies or committees that have social media pages? If so, running these could give you valuable knowledge and experience to list on your resume.
Finally, when you do land that coveted community management job, make sure you have a clear set of rules for any online spaces that you manage. Madeleine highlights the importance of not being afraid to enforce your rules early on in your career. “Establish a clear set of rules for your community, refer to them often, and don't tolerate toxicity! Letting toxicity slide sends a message that this kind of behaviour is okay. Address it immediately by referring to your rules, and if the perpetrator doesn't change their ways, just ban them! When I first started out, I was hesitant to bring down the ban hammer, but trust me — they won't be missed.”
What's the best thing about being a community manager?
Community management is one of the most popular job sectors in gaming to break into, so what makes it such a desirable field?
“Aside from getting to interact with a lot of cool people in the community every day, I get to be privy to a lot of things behind the scenes,” Madeleine says. “Brace Yourself Games is pretty small, and I like to wear hats like a TF2 character (i.e. a lot of them), so having the opportunity to work with and support amazing and talented people across all our different games and projects is the best.”
It’s the people aspect that makes the job what it is for Alessandro too. His favorite thing about community management is, "to be able to serve gamers and implement prominent and valid feedback in the game.”
A community manager has the responsibility of making the game and communities they manage as welcoming as possible. With the advice in this article, and from Madeleine and Alessandro, we’re hoping you’re feeling more confident than ever in making this your career path.
And there you have it! A deep-dive into community management, what it entails, and what you can do to increase your chance of landing a position in the field.
If this sounds like your dream job, then why hesitate? Take a look at all the video game community management jobs currently open on Hitmarker here.
Good luck with your search — we're here to help however we can.