Listen to the interview (approx. 50 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2014 with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: voice.
Position: Social Media and Content Strategies (Community Relations Manager) at Pocket Gems, a gaming company which creates multiple app-based games and has roughly 300 employees. Criss’s domain is the fantasy player-vs.-player wargame War Dragons. She wears many hats: moderating the forum on the website, answering player questions, creating “announcement assets” such as photos of new dragons, and announcing new content and news on various media channels. Criss also works with the events and development teams, hosts live chats several times each week, does a bit of play testing, and writes all blog posts.
Overview: Criss was an avid video gamer growing up, and as a student was the director of the Berklee Video Game Choir. She also did several internships, including one as a public relations manager for a small video game developer. In her last semester, someone she knew from the Video Game Choir connected Criss with Harmonix, a Cambridge-based company that does music-based video games. She got an internship as a community relations manager, which turned into a full-time job after graduating in December of 2014.
Criss worked at Harmonix for two and a half years, then got laid off and moved to San Francisco with her partner who got a job there. Chriss started looking for video-game related jobs. A friend who worked at twitch.tv helped her get a temporary job setting up their gaming convention Twitchcon 2017, while she interviewed and was hired by Pocket Gems right after the convention happened. Initially hired to be the community relations manager for a game which had not yet been put out, Criss was shifted over to the popular War Dragons game after a month when the previous person left.
You can see Criss’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “Being a gamer, I am so passionate just about seeing other gamers have the best success they can with the game and truly enjoy it. I love being part of this community. Also, I’m an extrovert. I enjoy meeting people and talking to people and learning about people. That really helps in a community relations position.”
“If you’re passionate about video games like I am, there are so many aspects of video game development you can go into. You can be a designer, an artist, a sound engineer, a QA lead, a marketer. All these contribute to the same product. There’s probably something within those that could work for you. As you work in it, you can figure out what does and does not work for you.”
“If you want a public/community relations job, definitely understand how you approach people. The conversations you have and the relationships you make are crucial to the PR role. Definitely evaluate how you communicate with strangers. You want them to be engaged in what you’re doing and what you’re providing. Not in a slimy way, but it really is about forging relationships. Will people feel more inclined to do what you ultimately want them to do, or will they decide it wasn’t a good experience? You only get that one shot to make a good impression.”
Criss at Harmonix. “It felt a little weird for music not be part of my full time career, but when it came down to what I was doing at Harmonix, only a little part of that was music and my main job was social media and community work. At the end of the day, my transferable skills were more applicable to other games than to other areas of music.
Criss’s business card. “The Music Business major definitely helped me in my career, especially understanding a brand, and understanding how to market yourself. At Berklee it’s as a musician, but it applies more broadly. Understanding your strengths and being able to articulate those for potential employers.”
Criss in a reflective moment. “It’s hard–you’re so fresh out of the gate after college. But trust yourself and understand that if something feels good and you want to pursue it more, go for it! Try things out and see what you like and pursue that. Or at least you’ll figure out what you don’t like and will want to steer away from. ”
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