In December 2005, I started playing City of Heroes (CoH), a phenomenal MMORPG that I continued playing until the servers shut down in November 2012, almost seven years later. I wasn’t familiar with Public Relations as a career field at the time and decided to go on to college in 2011 to study Journalism.
Looking back at my time playing CoH, I did have some interest in what I would later learn is PR. The game had a great lead development team, each taking on a super hero or super villain alias. They all specialized in various aspects of the game, but I took an interest in the work of Ex Libris, the Community Relations Manager. She took the position of a liaison between the development team and the players. Connecting a company to its constituency is always an important job, even more so in an MMORPG. The dedicated community was a major contributor in the success of City of Heroes, in no small part thanks to the community relations team.
Before CoH, I played Runescape and Toontown, two other MMORPGs with a strong community presence. While the community of all three is clearly driven by players, City of Heroes certainly had the most impressive professional staff of community relations managers. I sent a message to Ex Libris on the official City of Heroes forums a few years ago asking about her job (which she never answered, but I’m sure 14-year-old me wouldn’t know what to say about a career anyway) and have thought about the position ever since.
Managing a community of gamers is unlike any other PR management position. Having the opportunity to play games for a living is undoubtedly appealing, but the uniqueness of the job makes it even more attractive. The possibilities in event planning become limitless as they take place in a virtual world, and the passion of gamers makes the work significantly more rewarding. More than any other clientele, gamers take a strong interest in what they do, and their ideas often end up a part of the developer’s work.
Since coming to college and deciding to major in PR, my career options have grown exponentially. I’ve learned about corporate and non-profit, and agency and in-house. I’ve been asked numerous times which I prefer and my honest answer is that I have no preference; PR as a field is my passion, not any particular type. MMORPG community relations is too specific of a field and likely won’t be covered in any of my classes, but maybe one day I’ll learn more about it and seek a community manager job in an online game.