"Breaking Into the Industry" is a weekly interview series that speaks with video game professionals from all across EA. We hope that by sharing how some of the industry's biggest (and smallest) players got their start, you too can learn how to get your foot in the door.
What’s your name and job title?
My name is Daniel Lingen, and I’m a Community Manager here on the EA Games Label.
What games do you cover?
I’m currently working on Syndicate; supporting other EA Partners titles such as The Secret World and Overstrike; and managing the Facebook and Twitter for Dead Space.
What does a community manager do on a typical day? Drink martinis while tweeting?
Hah, ALLLLLL the martinis. But seriously, there’s a lot more that goes into being a Community Manager than you might expect.
We represent our brands on the Internet! We’re responsible for taking all of the awesome being created here at EA and releasing it to the masses in a way that best fits the titles we work on. It’s not just a matter of going to Twitter.com, punching in 140 characters, and hitting send – there’s actually a lot more to it. Community Managers can spend weeks with their teams planning what they’re going to say to ensure it’s the right thing.
We also plan events and contests for the community. It’s important to find interesting ways to have the community interact with you. After all, they can grow tired of being told to “Like” something to win. Community Managers try to make that more creative.
That said, Community Management is a two-way street. I spend a good chunk of my time reading what the community has to say about the games I represent on anything from social networks, like Twitter and Facebook, to gaming blogs, like Destructoid and Kotaku. Believe it or not, what you say on the Internet matters. Some of the best meetings I’ve had involve relaying what the community thinks about a game back to that game’s team. They love to hear feedback.
Finally, I’m also tasked with responding to the posts I see. I can’t respond to each and every tweet, but we do our best to get back to every post we see in a timely manner.
How do you manage working on multiple titles at once?
Multiple titles can get pretty hectic.
In my time here at EA, the most titles I’ve worked on simultaneously has been seven – but I wasn’t full-time on all of them. My level of involvement really depends on where I'm needed at the time.
As a result, we spend a lot of time getting up to speed on several titles at once, even if we’re not assigned to work on those titles right away. But that’s the fun of working at a videogame company, right? Some of my favorite moments here at EA are when I’m sitting in a room with a development team getting a private walkthrough of a project or a level they’ve just finished. They’re so passionate and excited that it’s easy to get just as into it. Besides, seeing a game three to four years before it comes out is pretty awesome.
Can you talk a little about where you’re from, what you studied, and how you managed to get a job at EA?
It’s been a long, strange trip to my full-time position here at EA.
To be honest, my quest to get into the industry began way back when games used to have notes that said “We’re hiring!” at the end of their credits. Since I was ten, I’ve been doing everything I can to be involved with video games. At the time, that consisted mostly of playing video games and reading gaming magazines. “Research and Development,” as my father called it.
Then, in 2007, I found a position as a cameraman for Destructoid. I had the opportunity to travel to a bunch of shows like E3 and PAX and meet a lot of great PR people, most of whom I’m still good friends with today. When Destructoid brought me to EA during one of my first events, I absolutely fell in love with the campus and the people. As much as I loved being a member of the press, I wanted to work at EA even more.
I applied as an intern here in 2008 using any and all resources I had. LinkedIn, Facebook, cold calls – even showing up to have lunch with the people I had met before. I finally interviewed and was offered a job as an intern during the summer of 2008. Since then, I’ve gone back and forth between being an intern here at EA and working at Destructoid. This was because I could only work at EA during the summer. During the fall and spring I was attending San Francisco State University to obtain my degree in Marketing.
When I graduated, one of the companies who offered me a position was Electronic Arts. It wasn’t even a competition. I signed and returned the offer letter in person, as I didn’t want to delay working there any longer.
And what’s your favorite game of all time?
I can’t pick a favorite game of all time. That’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is. Never going to happen.
Okay, then what games are you playing now?
First off, I’ve been playing Battlefield 3. The EA Community Team gets together regularly to play on our server and interact with the community, so it’s a great opportunity to get to know people who love our games.
When I’m not ruling the field of battle, I’m probably playing whatever “hot release” is out that week. I was caught up in Deus Ex: Human Revolution for a while, and of course Uncharted 3 and Skyrim have taken up a lot of my time.
I’m also a hardcore StarCraft 2 fan. I don’t play it as much as I watch it though, as I’m a huge fan of competitive gaming. You might even find me at one of San Francisco’s BarCraft events!
How old are you by the way?
You know, I used to fear this question. When I was an intern I would dodge the answer, I didn't want people to know how young I was, but now that I'm full-time I suppose I can list it. I'm 22.
And you have what a lot of people would consider a pretty awesome job! What advice do you have for people in college and high school who want to work in the industry?
You know, as a Community Manager I get asked that question a lot. There’s no “foolproof” way to “break into the industry,” although there are some best practices.
As far as Community Management goes – start a website. Build a community of your own and learn for yourself what builds a community. All of these blogs about “social media” and “how to foster a community” can only tell you so much. It’s up to you to go out and experience it for yourself. Having a site like that will also get you involved in the industry. You can go out to events and network, meet people who can help you out, and vice versa. As long as you’re involved in the industry, you’re never doing it wrong.
Finally, be prepared! Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You never want to be caught at an event without an updated copy of your resume available to be emailed wherever you need. I can’t tell you how many people have gotten their first interview because they were prepared on the spot.
Thanks again for doing this, Dan.
Thanks, Lucian. It's always great doing things like this for the EA.com crew. If the community has any other questions, they should feel free to send me a tweet! I'm @HuskyHog on Twitter.
Is there a specific video game job you'd like to know more about? Let us know in the comments! Plus, check out last week's interview with Games User Research Project Manager, Tim Toy, for more insight into the industry.