Get to Know a GameDev: Astrid Rosemarin

Astrid RosemarinAstrid Rosemarin is a community developer, which is a somewhat new but certainly necessary role in the modern games industry. Working with Montreal-based Execution Labs, an early stage investor that helps early-stage game studios, Astrid has helped bring dozens of games to life through her work with various developer groups. She also brings unique insight from the entertainment industry, with a background in television and interactive digital media. For her, a community-focused career in games seems like a natural progression.

Since community development looks at a different side of traditional game dev, we were eager to interview Astrid about how she came into her role, and how she sees its level of influence on the game industry. Thankfully, like most great community managers, she was happy to answer a bunch of questions 🙂

How would you describe your role in gaming?
My title at Execution Labs is Community Developer, which certainly describes my general role as well. I work with all of our portfolio studios on all things marketing, communications, community, etc. but I also manage the XL community channels, including a newsletter and on social media.

Execution LabsIs there anything weird about your job others wouldn’t know?
Working at XL is unique, that’s for sure! There aren’t too many games-exclusive investors out there, and there aren’t too many who are hands-on with their studios either.

Did you always want to work in this type of role?
Most of my family works (or has worked) in entertainment including theatre, film, and television. It made a lot of sense for me to build a career in the screen-based cultural sector over the years.

What did you do before you worked in the game industry?
Before games I was more on the television / interactive digital media side of things. I have been lucky enough to work with some incredible people at the Independent Production Fund and Interactive Ontario before moving to Montreal and getting more into games.

How did you break into the industry?
The short answer: networking.

Astrid Rosemarin

The longer answer is that I started on the peripheries and worked my way in. Interactive Ontario covers a number of digital media sectors, including video games. While there I met Jason Della Rocca, who was helping us identify speakers for the conference series formerly known as GameON: Finance. When I moved to Montreal I re-connected with Jason who helped me get the lay of the land. A couple years later he hired me!

What (if any) personal challenges have you faced during your career?
I’ve been really fortunate in my career, and don’t have a dramatic horror story to tell. Probably one of the biggest challenges for me was learning to deal with a person creating a toxic work environment both for me personally and others in that office.

earth heartHas your job or other life choices ever forced you to be apart from close friends and/or family?
My dad was a set decorator on big-budget films. He travelled was worked on location over my lifetime, which was incredible because we got to visit him in all kinds of countries but also meant we didn’t see each other over long periods of time.

My husband and I have done both the long distance thing and the moving around thing when he was in the CF. I think everyone ends up developing their own ways to deal with separation depending on the situation but ultimately I think it comes down to understanding and love.

Why do you feel community development is important to the games industry?
Building communities around your studio is critical in this day and age. Not only can it help with sales, but a studio (of any size) can use community development for recruitment, PR, company culture, thought leadership, marketing, customer service, and more. For those of us who work in smaller organizations, being able to share what we’re working on with people who are genuinely enthusiastic about it warms my heart strings right up!

Do you have any special work routines, tricks or habits that might benefit others in similar roles?
I could go on about this for decades. This is actually what our panel at MIGS was all about earlier in November. We community folks need to stick together and support one another!

In reality, I’ve been working hard to simplify my workflow. At this point I’ve gotten it down to Google Calendar, and a separate browser window with a plethora of tabs covering our social pages and related sites. Ultimately though I believe everyone in this role has a unique set of constraints, from budget to content to time to anything else, so it becomes important to not try and emulate what someone else is doing, but rather figure out a tailored solution that fits you as the community person, the studio you’re representing, and the products that are rallying the community groups to your side.

Professionally, what have been the high and low points of your career?
OH GEZ I have no idea it’s all a whirlwind of fantastic and amazing. There’s something fun about the idea that in a way I began my career behind the scenes helping to run conferences and events, and at this point I get to be invited to (some of them) as a guest or speaker. Not that either way is better than the other (I still help run a whole bunch of events in Montreal), but it’s a neat progression to experience.

So when did you first discover that you enjoyed video games?
I started playing video games when I was a kid and we had a Windows 3.0 machine and had some The Learning Company games on disks that had to be boot in through DOS. My favourites were Ancient Empires and Midnight Rescue. I actually even tried making one of the recipes from Midnight Rescue — the one and only time I cooked something with powdered milk.

Later on I was introduced to Heroes of Might and Magic (still one of my favourite franchises ever), and then eventually my N64 and Gameboy. Goodness gracious, I played those consoles a lot!

What has been the most striking change in games since you first started playing?
I don’t need to boot up DOS anymore and punch in a bunch of commands.

Dos boot

Do you have any game industry heroes/role models?
The special thing about my job is that I literally work with many dozens of game developers all around me. Between the XL portfolio studios and everyone at GamePlay Space, I get to learn from a huge variety of people and projects. I don’t need heroes, I have all the inspiration I need from everyone around me.

How do you think the games industry will change in the next 5 years? (or what will be the biggest change)
I think the games industry is maturing as an entertainment industry, and can learn a lot from the growing pains the film industry has felt over the past century. From labour issues to art vs commerce discussions, and everything in between, I think it’s worth taking cues from lessons learned from the other long standing cultural sectors. On the other hand, however, working in the games industry is immensely exciting, because we’re forging new paths with innovations in all kinds of new areas.

Part of what’s so incredible about this is that I really can’t tell you what the industry will look like in five years!


Do you know someone in the gaming or game development community with a unique perspective, interesting project or creative take on the industry? We’d like to talk to them!
Let us know who we should feature next: corina@gamedevcafe.com

 

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  • On December 07, 2016