How Wander’s launch devastated its community manager

What is it like to be the community manager of an MMO that was infamously called the worst PlayStation 4 game ever? That’s the question of the day for Emma S., the community manager of Wander.

Emma shares how she got involved with the Wander project as a volunteer and worked her way up to CM and social media guru. She describes jumping into the role at launch “beyond stressful” and “insane,” feelings complicated by a massively buggy and unstable release.

“Never underestimate the tremendous wrath of an immeasurable horde of irate gamers,” she recalls. “Within half an hour of launch, Facebook and Twitter had exploded with incredibly nasty comments. Though they were horrible, they were also honest. I hit the ground running. I read and answered every single post and comment as it came though. My stomach sank further with each passing notification. I felt was like I was being punched from the inside with every new comment.”

Emma did say that some fans rallied around her and the team to provide encouragement and even pizza. However, the toll of handling the launch and subsequent trials kept her working so hard that she got sick, had her car towed, and nearly went broke. She’s proud of the game, although she left the project this month to pursue her career.

It’s an interesting read that shows how much abuse and how many trials community managers go through. Read it and maybe consider being a little nicer to your CM today!

Source: Kotaku. Thanks to j3w3l for the tip!
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lanessar
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lanessar

I was admin and Community Manager for my Neverwinter Nights Persistent World for a number of years.

All complaints were directed to the Complaints Department.

The Complaints Department was a level 60 dragon named Alzuraith in a prison area.

Stress was non-existent after I implemented the complaints department.

EmmaS
Guest
EmmaS

Geering EmmaS Jacra 
It’s really me :) And thanks!
I actually wouldn’t have minded staying at Wander but there were good reasons that were keeping me from staying, that and I finally had to after and look out for myself. No one is is going to do so!
I know Loki is continuing to work super hard on the game, along with everyone else. I think between both him and Aaron (artist) they’ll be taking over community management/SM now and I wish everyone there the best of luck and my gratitude.

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf
Geering
Guest
Geering

Gas Chamber Gerhan I don’t think the problems she suffered through were from giving a fuck.

From what I’ve read, she does have thick skin, but the overwhelming volume of feedback & mounting list of things to do can start to grate on you after a couple of hours, nevermind days. 

I agree with http://www.livefyre.com/profile/73844209/ below, as I will with anyone that posts a Louis CK video to back up their posts, that if the game had launched in a playable state, this wouldn’t have happened. But it did & Emma did not quit or broke down throughout the whole thing.

That’s something noteworthy.

melissaheather
Guest
melissaheather

Dystopiq that’s why we are going to miss Smedley more than the natives on Skull island missed King Kong after they took him away. 
“all the terror, power, and mystery of nature is gone.”

Geering
Guest
Geering

EmmaS Geering Jacra Is that really you? Pay no attention to my wisecrack, the article was just written in a way that made it sound a bit funny. Well, as funny as having your car towed can be, that is.

Listen, lots of respect for you & what you were able to endure. I know negativity can wear you down, no matter how mentally strong you are, especially such a vast amount in so little time. I especially liked the bit when you said you wouldn’t take the all the vileness personally. That’s something not many people can do – even though they should – I applaud you.

You have an emotional maturity that’s sorely lacking in the world today.

This actually got me interested in the game & I hope everything gets sorted out before long. I’ll definitely give it a try. It’s already on my wishlist.

Again, kudos, props & all that for you.

I hope you can find a job somewhere where you can call the shots. I’m sure you’d make an awesome boss!

EmmaS
Guest
EmmaS

Geering 
Leaving
the office at 6.28am, tow away zone starts 6.30am. I Only found out after
the fact that the area has very, very predatory tow trucks that work on
commission. They literally park and wait for the clock to tick to half
past and they tow you. Cafe owner downstairs gave the heads up. $400+ to
get a car out of impound.
The broke part. Well, broke is broke.
Working on a project where you never got paid, not even once, and you
were already living off what you had only on hand an in your account… yeah. If it was possible to be paid, I
would have asked it so, and I did. But at that point, as per the article,
there wasn’t any money to pay anyone at all.
Jacra 

Also, I wasn’t
oblivious. I knew well, too well, about the issues with the game. I
didn’t ‘sell’ myself, I did it to help someone who was obviously in need
of an extra set of hands in an immediate way. My only “crime”
(figuratively speaking) was being helpful to the point where I
temporarily forgot to look after myself because it was an exceptional
circumstance. I ended up being fine, I got through it, it was an
incredible time but I definitely feel I’m better off having gone through
it.
If I go back into CM/PR, having done Wander and it’s extreme
circumstance, I’m confident I am prepared and can handle challenges.
Hopefully I’ve been able to supply some answers to your questions :)

Gas Chamber Gerhan
Guest
Gas Chamber Gerhan

Emma, you need to cultivate the fine art of not giving a fuck, because that’s the kind of thick skin you need as a CM, especially for any kind of online game full of people that will act like raging 5 year olds when shit goes wrong.

Nate Woodard
Guest
Nate Woodard

I’m banging my freaking head on the desk right now! akedlankgabg  I mean seriously?? I cannot for the life of me understand how people think it’s okay to act this way.  I DO NOT CARE how anonymous you think you are on the internet.  Find something more constructive to do.  Remember kids, early access is just that. Early. It’s not finished yet.  Know what that means, kids?  It means, that there’s still time to fix what’s wrong with the game.  

But at least you gave the developers a chance right? Oh.. yea.. whoopsie.  What you did do, is work someone to death trying to answer the questions that were in between your hateful comments.  What you did do, is cause that person to become physically ill. What you did do is cause that person to quit her job, a job that she never intended to have to begin with, no less.  

But hey, why not just yell some more obscenities because YOU PAID for EARLY ACCESS to a game that may or may not have been ready to go.  I mean, sounds real smart to me!  Way to go community.  Just keep smearing the name of gamer in the mud.

Jacra
Guest
Jacra

Geering 
I hope that interview doesn’t backlash on her career as it says (it seems) she was oblivious to the products … quality, the gaming community she was supposed to serve, sold herself without reasonable pay and did not enforce boundaries to ensure her own physical & financial safety.

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf
Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

Lord Zorvan I’m generally a shithead but even I have my standards.  You should find some.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

Geering she was probably hardly paid and worked over 60 hours a week when she could have been making more money in her old  job or doing something else.  it happens when you chase a dream gig.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

Lights_andMusic funny bit

Tethyss
Guest
Tethyss

How is someone “proud” of a game that is buggy and unfinished?  Be proud of who you are and the work you do.  Do not be proud of managers and developers that cannot meet deadlines and be accountable for their commitments.
By all means take action in threads where players cannot behave properly.

Zariarn
Guest
Zariarn

wontgrowup Zariarn AIA….love it

mysecretid
Guest
mysecretid

Armsbend BalsBigBrother 
I have relatives who worked high corporate and yes, you’re right, often the true, unspoken function of public-facing managers and problem-solvers is largely to serve as a human “firewall” between the public and the people actually making the decisions.

It’s often a crap job where you take all the abuse, but have no real power to effect change, or to truly fix problems. The jobs certainly don’t pay well enough to warrant the sort of vileness one has to endure.

Lights_andMusic
Guest
Lights_andMusic

This entire thing just reminds me that…of course, the comments people are making on these forums etc are inexcusable … but maybe, if the game had launched in a better state….

CastagereShaikura
Guest
CastagereShaikura

plynky12 To me the game had fail written all over it.

wontgrowup
Guest
wontgrowup

Zariarn

Deleting comments or freezing threads on a community forum just gets you in more trouble usually. It is not like posting a YouTube video or throwing up a tweet. In most cases these are customers or potential customers, who are registering a valid complaint and it is the community managers job to try and answer or at least update progress. Not an easy job, especially in this wondrous age of anonymous internet assholery.

Zariarn
Guest
Zariarn

If the comments are nasty, delete them.

Bannex19
Guest
Bannex19

A) What did she think a community manager did?
B) That dev team deserved every bit of negative feedback.
C) No excuse for people to talk to people the way they do on the Internet especially if they’re just doing their job.
D) Horseshit game shouldn’t have been released

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

If you just don’t answer nerd raging morons and do answer people who are polite you can remove most of the stress and enforce a more positive attitude in the game. People can demand anything they want, but they don’t actually have a right to treat you like garbage. Being apologetic to these examples of poor parenting isn’t going to help your game. If anything keeping them around will just make it worse.

Hurbster
Guest
Hurbster

Need to give a reason to explore.

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

Edany (AmberACurtis) is a very sad commentary on the state of the gaming community today.
I’d say this is largely the internet in general, sadly. Broader fan communities, be they for games, books, comics, anime, sports etc. all have these tendencies due to the impersonal nature of the internet and the ease with which you can leave disgusting messages for others.

Aestus in Umbram
Guest
Aestus in Umbram

Wratts Aestus in Umbram Yeah, hence why you don’t employ a sergeant to make things actually happen that need thought and reaction.

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

Geering Probably parked overnight in a city lot, or on the street, that towed cars after hours

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Always annoying to read or see people take out issues on the person that they are dealing with who is putting out the information for them or helping them. Take a deep breath people and stop feeling so damned entitled. Debate and criticize all you want, as long as there’s merit and you don’t make it personal and insult and belittle the person you are dealing with.

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

Aestus in Umbram Wratts Pride is also a defense mechanism, and it’s drilled in continuously during military service.  Think about the whole point of medals, “I know the things I did are important and honorable because they told me they were; look I even got a medal to show for it.”
Obviously I don’t know your guy, but I know a lot of others and have seen the pride defense a lot.  Of course, there are also sickos who only function in high conflict scenarios and get off on the killing.

Geering
Guest
Geering

How do you work so hard that your car gets towed?

How does that happen?

And nearly went broke? What’s happening?

We need answers!

Aestus in Umbram
Guest
Aestus in Umbram

Wratts Aestus in Umbram Valcan321 Aestus in Umbram Yeah. If there were conflict I was totally turned insideout.
The latter. I ran after that. He was proud to hold the title of “war criminal”.

Wratts
Guest
Wratts

Aestus in Umbram Valcan321 Aestus in Umbram To be fair, a lot of guys with stories like those, particularly the ones who tell them, are pretty conflicted about it.  A lot of times if they’re boasting they’re trying to convince themselves they did an honorable thing, or at least had a reasonable mistake.  
The key is that he’s referring to himself as a war criminal, an unconflicted sociopath with no empathy would never even think/worry about that.

Edany (AmberACurtis)
Guest
Edany (AmberACurtis)

camelotcrusade Edany (AmberACurtis) Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an opinionated loud mouth. I hope that the next time you witness something like that, you go ahead and dare to speak up for the poor person on the receiving end who cannot speak up for themselves for fear of losing their job. Bullies need to be called out and slapped down – sometimes just letting someone know that their behavior is unacceptable regardless of the situation, and that they’re making their own problem even worse is enough, sometimes it isn’t – but I know that when I call people out on their rotten behavior, it certainly feels better from my point of view.
Remember: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” –  Edmond Burke

Edany (AmberACurtis)
Guest
Edany (AmberACurtis)

Lord Zorvan Thank you for the perfect example of the bullshit attitude of gamers I referenced below. A fine display of completely unwarranted and unnecessary spite and bitterness towards someone who was doing nothing more than a job to make the user experience slightly better in an already bad situation.

carsont
Guest
carsont

Edany (AmberACurtis) This isn’t a function of gaming culture, and it’s not new. I was a supervisor in a call center that handled customer calls for chat lines – I can’t tell you how many times customers were going to:
1) Buy out of the company and have me fired
2) Hunt me down and kill / maim / otherwise hard me
3) Sue me

Nevermind the yelling, screaming, and whatever else you can imagine because they couldn’t get YET ANOTHER free trial on the system.

Some cultures are worse than others (I dealt with people from different countries, and their attitudes reflected that), but the bottom line is we live in a society that perpetuates customer entitlement. The customer is ALWAYS right (which is horse shit), etc. and so forth.

We see it in the gaming community, because we’re all in the gaming community. But for those of you who work retail, tech support, or anywhere else that has the misfortune of facing the public (I got out long, long ago mercifully) will have felt the same pain as mentioned here.

It’s not ok, but until companies revised their service policies and empower their employees to manage these people accordingly, it will never change (finally we were able to give warnings and then end the call, only because it was so severe it was considered harassment).

Surprise, you nasty customers, you’re behaviour is NOT ok and yes can be considered harassment. 

Ok I’m done my rant!

Lord Zorvan
Guest
Lord Zorvan

Um….boo hoo? Hopefully her next job entails fluffy rainbows and unicorns. Maybe she can get a job with Daddy.

camelotcrusade
Guest
camelotcrusade

Edany (AmberACurtis) Yeah, it’s like that awful moment when you’re behind a customer reaming out the cashier because of a problem (wrong price, expired coupon, whatever)… except now it’s multiplied by hundreds of posters.  I don’t want to be in that line and I almost always side with the cashier.  Sometimes I fantasize about telling off the jerk in front of me and hoping for a movie moment where they tuck their tail between their legs (yeah, right, like that would happen).  Anyway, angry people forget that when and how to raise problems should be considered separately.

Dystopiq
Guest
Dystopiq

I could never be a CM. I’d get fired on the first day for telling some snot nose kid to f*** off.

Eliandal
Guest
Eliandal

I *always* go by the maxim of treat others how I would like to be treated!  If I’m so upset that I find myself unable to be civil, then the computer goes off, and I go outside to take out my frustrations on a tree, a target or something else inanimate.  It’s never OK to treat people like we do now.  It’s a problem that has gotten progressively worse over the last 2 decades.  Anonymity is the main culprit (that, and frankly, we’re just ruder as a society now :/)

Aestus in Umbram
Guest
Aestus in Umbram

Valcan321 Aestus in Umbram When he proudly told the story of when he killed children and “should have been a war criminal” except for Bush’s grace I retreated.

Valcan321
Guest
Valcan321

Aestus in Umbram Yea he was probably bad at his job in the military to. I have met many of those people who say “just run with it” and then scream at you when you had no clue what you were doing. Shit leadership. Stupid policies. But it sounds nice to some people…

Valcan321
Guest
Valcan321

plynky12 I have seen some gameplay that looked really interesting actually. I think the problem is well.

A) People are self important pricks

B) Beyond non combat people don’t really care. 

Lets face it without combat it really isn’t that exciting. Now a game where combat is secondary sounds awesome but it has to be done right. I give them lots of respect for trying to be different and make something new. Thats a HARD sell in modern gaming.

As for people? When most people seem to retain the mentality of a teenager into adulthood these days and most teens are borderline psychotic (yes you are. You just won’t realize it till you older and see the simularities between mentally unstable people and teens). Add to this a mentality today that all dreams can become real, the customer is always right and a society that tells them they are all special??? Yep shit sandwhich.

To those of you who are sane cool people. Keep it up ya make it all worth it.

Aestus in Umbram
Guest
Aestus in Umbram

jeremy2020 Aestus in Umbram Akami Wild_Phil Exactly!

Aestus in Umbram
Guest
Aestus in Umbram

Tridus Wild_Phil Akami Just look for any coverage of actually exiting stuffs here. Doesn’t readily exist.

jeremy2020
Guest
jeremy2020

Aestus in Umbram Akami Wild_Phil Ideas mean little. Execution is important.

Edany (AmberACurtis)
Guest
Edany (AmberACurtis)

I don’t care what industry you’re in – it is never okay to be berated, trolled, insulted, or anything else of that nature for performing your job. Not at all. The fact that she felt this way about her job because of a bunch of idiots who were dissatisfied with a game is a very sad commentary on the state of the gaming community today. The “I want it all, and I want it now – or else” attitude is ruining games just as surely as any poorly received release of a game – and in my mind, probably even more so.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

BalsBigBrother yeh I think your job is to simply be the buffer between management/development and angry fans.  You are really just a wall to deflect attacks.

It is probably fun for a beloved company like Blizzard or maybe Valve though because of the fact you know people are going to play no matter what.  They can rant all day long but confidence in your product means you know it really doesnt matter what people say.  the idiots arent going anywhere.

plynky12
Guest
plynky12

From what I saw of the game (only looked at let’s plays, and they were enough to put me off) it seems like they took out combat from the MMO genre, and replaced it with…  nothing.

I thought this would be deep, with lots going on to keep you interested. That learning to change into a new form would entail an elaborate freeform quest with lots to puzzle over and much exploration and discovery. Seems not. You just walk to a place. They had a great idea but forgot to put in a game.

BalsBigBrother
Guest
BalsBigBrother

I have been a maintenance manager for a moderately large residential property rental company which was probably the most stressful job I have had.  That was stressful due to the resource management needed and being able to shuffle those resources around to deal with all the problems that came up with the varous properties.  However, generally once you have dealt with those problems people are usually happy with you.
Game community managers however can’t win no matter what they do or how good / bad the project is running people will use you as a punch bag.  Whatever you do you will be doing wrong in someones eyes for which  they will berate you for.  Added onto that community management and CS teams in general also seems to be undervalued by most software companies and are usually the first in the firing line when ever there is any financial pressue.
Simply put I respect such people a lot for taking on such roles but there is not enough money in the world you could pay me that would make
me want to take on the communtity manager job for any mmo or game
project.

Greaterdivinity
Guest
Greaterdivinity

MorpayneRADIO The criticisms of the games bugs/it being broken are fine. But a lot of the shit that people sling on the internet is not. It has nothing to do with political correctness, it has to do with people being decent fucking human beings.
Example: CoD had a minor patch some years back (forget which installment) which changed reload/ADS times on some guns by as little as .25 seconds. What was the response from some folks? To threaten the life of some of the developers, including their families. That’s not acceptable.

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