Understanding and developing online communities is, perhaps, the fastest growing concern among Internet professionals today.
I’ve been working as Gearbox Software‘s community manager since July 12th, 2004. My job at Gearbox involves being a liaison between the developer and community as well as managing the development of the community itlsef. With the upcoming launch of Gearbox Software’s first original IP title, Brothers in Arms; we expect massive growth in our community.
Being a developer of popular games, Gearbox has a fast growing community. My challenge is in growing the community larger while maintaining stability, and finding ways for the developer and community to further benefit from each other. Over the past 8 months, I focused on analyzing the current environment and preparing changes to the landscape of Gearbox’s online infrastructure. During this phase, I’ve launched two new tools.
The first tool is an online Developer’s Diary I like to call Gearblogs. The diary was originally launched as a independent site, but will soon be absorbed into the rebuild of Gearbox’s main site. New entries are posted at least once a month, providing original content that gives the community a view inside the culture and business of Gearbox Software.
The second tool is a sub-community known as the Gearbox Fans Nexus. It’s difficult for a busy development shop to stay in touch with a large number of fansites. The Nexus focuses on providing fansite webmasters with information, media, and a line of communication with Gearbox.
Both of these tools are merely stepping stones for a long term plan of community support. The next stone will be laid in the next few weeks when I launch a new primary Web site.