Its time for the fourth edition of the Kwalee Quiz! Community Evangelist, Joe Barron, talks about his editorial experience and love of racing games.
What is your first gaming memory?
For a while, my parents tried to prevent me from playing games. My dad, who loves motorcycles, discovered games after playing Yu Suzuki’s Super Hang On in arcades, one of the first machines where the player sat on a replica motorcycle and leaned left or right to turn. Dad then bought a SEGA Mega Drive to play the game at home. He used to play it after I had been put to bed and then hide the console afterwards! One night he forgot to hide it away and I discovered it the next morning. “A quick go” on Sonic The Hedgehog turned into two hours and I haven’t looked back since!
What made you want to work in the video game industry?
Games have dominated my free time from a very early age and I have always followed the industry very closely. I gradually developed some expertise on the subject, which lead to me becoming determined to work in games. These days, I can’t really see myself doing anything else!
What did you study at university?
I studied for a BA in Business & Marketing at Sheffield Business School. It gave me a well-rounded understanding of the basic principles of marketing and a lot of team-working experience, as we very rarely produced assessed work as individuals. The course included a sandwich year work placement in the International Team at Sheffield Hallam University, helping the university to attract students from overseas. While I was studying and for 18 months after graduating, I produced video game reviews and podcasts for a variety of websites and magazines, including GameSpot.com.
How did your work in game reviews prepare you for your role at Kwalee?
Working in editorial allowed me to learn a lot about creating, editing, managing and promoting online content. I also had to build up a personal presence on social media to share my work. All of this has allowed me to quickly get up to speed with the Community role at Kwalee, especially as the majority of my work involves producing and managing content for Kwalee.com and then sharing it around the world using social media. Its exciting to be able to use my experience to help Kwalee to innovate in these areas!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in Community in the video game industry?
The best way to prove yourself in this type of role is to get some experience in developing a community for your own games blog or website. Try to innovate and excite your audience on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Become familiar with analytic tools to track whether your community and social audience are coming back to your website to consume content. Gain the best understanding that you can of the types of content that games fans are interested in and show your passion for playing and talking about games.
What is your favourite video game and why?
Like Alexei, I am a huge Metal Gear Solid fan. It has even been suggested that we should sit further apart in the office to stop us from talking about Hideo Kojima’s games! I also spend a lot of my gaming time behind a steering wheel, playing games like Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo and F1. I’ve been a motor-racing nut for most of my life and love nothing more than spending hours shaving tenths of a second off my lap-times!
What is your gaming pet peeve?
Recently, I have become more and more frustrated by great games which are spoilt by bugs and glitches. The era of the connected device has brought us many fantastic new game features, but some developers are relying on the possibility of post-release patching to release products in a less than complete state. Many downloadable title updates actually cause more problems than they solve too. I’d like to see much more effort put into correcting issues like these before games are released, rather than making early adopters suffer through lack-lustre experiences until a patch can be made available.
How did you come to work at Kwalee?
I had heard that a new game company founded by David Darling was looking for a Community person. I sent in an application, along with some ideas Kwalee’s use of social media. After a couple of interviews I was offered a job and its been really thrilling to put some of my ideas into practice!
What is your favourite thing about working at Kwalee?
Not only do I get to work alongside talented people who are already becoming great friends, but I also get to share the experience of David Darling, Bruce Everiss and Andrew Graham. Its fascinating to be in the same office as people who worked on many of the games that I loved while I was growing up. The ping pong is not a bad perk either!