Do you mind taking a minute to introduce yourself?
Hello, I’m Ryan Paul Thompson, and I’m the Social Media Strategist for social gaming company, Fat Marmots, and a teacher at the Art Institute. I’ve been working in digital for about 10 years, and freelance in web design, writing, illustration, speaking, and strategy. I also run Damnthatsracist.com, and about 11 billion other accounts. jk
How did you start doing this?
I honestly started off to designing and building web sites (which I still do) and was fortunate enough to work on a lot of social media related projects without even knowing it! My first big project was with FTGU (an Alicia Keys nonprofit) that made use of a lot of crowdsourcing for content, community management, and digital interactions. I’ve been really fortunate in being able to work with a lot of good people at just the right time, and have somehow been able to land my dream of finally not just being a gamer, but getting to work directly for a gaming company.
What were you doing before Fat Marmots?
A LOT of social/digital media campaigns! I worked on digital campaigns for McDonalds, Everbank, and I put together the social media plans for Touchdown Jacksonville (for the Jacksonville Jaguars), Bealls Florida, King of Fighters XII, Muramasa, and Nostalgia DS. Like most of us, I don’t sleep anymore.
And what’s the name of the game you’re working on right now?
Our first game is Quizaniac (http://www.facebook.com/quizaniac), and it’s a trivia styled game played out in a poker -like scenario. It’s a free to play model, and deals with topics surrounding sports, movies, celebrities, pop-culture, and gaming. It’s actually pretty fun! And Im not just plugging! I really thought at first, “I’m working on a game, who cares what it’s like…i’m working on a social game, be thankful…”. I was EXTREMELY relieved when i THEN started playing, and then stopped about 35 minutes later.
What difficulties are there in marketing a game like this?
The biggest difficulty is probably being patient!;) Seriously though, there’s already so many great games out, that the competition is extremely fierce. That and we’re not just competing with other games, we’re competing with all other forms of entertainment for the player’s time.
The other big difficulty (other than budget jk) is expectations. Retail, downloadable, and free to play games are getting more and more advanced visually. Both hardcore and casual game players perceptions of what a game should look like is changing rapidly. I will say being able to use data gathering and research analysis tools like GoogleAnalytics, Radian 6, and Facebook Insights really helps us maximize our efforts and concentrate on the niches that have the most interest in the game. Community management, actual player participation, and being able to stay current with what our players needs and desires are, is what’s going to be what helps us succeed.Sidenote: It is MUCH easier to deal with an unhappy customer of a free-to-play game, than an unhappy player who has purchased a $60 title.
What advice can you give others trying to break into the gaming or social industry?
Figure out what you’re good at, who you want to work for, and then take a step back, and figure out where things overlap. If you’re good at print design, nearly every game needs an instruction booklet or some packaging design. Are you organized? You could become a project coordinator. Love Nike and want to do social for them? Start a blog about Nike shoes, and show your passion and intelligence on the subject…maybe you can become a community manager! Just don’t give up and be persistent.