The Shortened Communication… AKA The Summary

Website: https://www.kolibrigames.com/

In this insightful episode of the Player Engage podcast Greg chats with special guest Lauren Wade from Kolibri Games about the essential dynamics of communication within gaming teams. They delve into the art of two-way conversations between player communications and product teams, emphasizing the need for mutual feedback to enhance player experience. Lauren provides a compelling argument for why clear, reciprocal dialogue is key to addressing player issues effectively and keeping teams aligned. Plus, they share valuable takeaways from customer service roles that power up a player communications career. Tune in to unlock strategies for better teamwork and player satisfaction in the gaming world.

Lauren and Greg talk Communication on the Player Engage Podcast

Transcript

Greg Posner: 00:00: 00:22: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Player Engaged podcast. Today, we are joined by Lauren Wade, the head of player communications at Calibri Games. Excited to be able to talk to Lauren. We last saw each other at the Community Clubhouse event at Gamescom in Kelowna, and she was a guest speaker or a panelist speaker, so it’s great. So I’m excited to be joined by you today, Lauren. You want to do a quick introduction of yourself?
Lauren Wade: 00:23: 01:10: Sure thing, yeah. Hi everybody, I’m Lauren. I am, well I mean repeating what Greg said, head of player communications at Colibri Games. We’re a Berlin-based mobile game studio, best known for games like Idle Miner Tycoon and Idle Bank Tycoon. What my department is doing is like three separate things, so we are customer support, community management and localization, hence the name player communications because I figured well basically if it involves talking to players then it’s going through us. Yeah, so that’s how they all came together. It’s a really nice joining of three different kind of disciplines that I’ve worked with before in gaming. I’ve done a bit of kind of narrative design in Loca, I’ve been a support agent, I’ve been a game master, I’ve been a CM, so yeah, mixing all of those together finally into this department is, yeah, really nice.

Greg Posner: 01:11: 01:31: That’s fun that you have kind of this vision that you want and what you want to do in gaming. And you can kind of combine all these forces to make a roll out of it. And I think it’s interesting. And about half of our listener group, I’d say, isn’t necessarily in the gaming vertical. Can you kind of give us a breakdown, you just did, but go a little more in depth on what the actual head of player communications does on a day to day basis?

Lauren Wade: 01:32: 02:40: Lots of meetings, but it’s essentially, yeah, as I say, anything to do with communicating with the players somehow. So kind of on the CS and CM side, it’s very much like problem solving or getting info out to players in advance. So the people on my team will be answering support tickets, which is quite standard across many industries, creating and maintaining FAQs, app store reviews, things like this. but then also out in places like Discord and Reddit where the community is kind of growing of its own accord. So interacting with players there, getting feedback from them, getting hype, solving problems again, sharing, I don’t know, giveaways, social media posts. So, yeah, lots of stuff like that. And then, yeah, the localization is kind of at its core translation rather than the localization. So if there’s words and we need it in other languages, it will get done by us. But yeah, as anyone who has like a global product, market, anything like that. We’ll know there’s often other things to take into consideration as well for the localization. But you need that in games as well. It isn’t just for, I don’t know, software or something else. It also definitely works for games.

Greg Posner: 02:40: 02:55: So one of the things that says on Lauren’s LinkedIn profile, if you ever take a look at it, is that she is a language nerd. So we do a localization here, help shift and keywords. But I’m curious as a language nerd, how many languages do you know?

Lauren Wade: 02:56: 03:44: Oh, I like that you said no, because so many people ask me, how many do you speak? And then I’m always like, Oh, it depends on your definition of speak. Because yeah, the ones that I’ve come into contact with, I speak at very different levels. So kind of going from the most fluent downwards, English native, then German, French. probably followed by a mixture of Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Afrikaans, and Russian. So yeah, thing is with that kind of mix, I can look at basic Portuguese and I can go, okay, I know what that says, but I cannot write it myself. I cannot speak it myself, you know? So yeah, it really depends on what you want to define know or speak as, but yeah, that’s just, that’s just for starters. I’m aiming for 10 because I’m not at 10 languages yet. I’d love to get there. That’s like a bucket list goal.

Greg Posner: 03:45: 04:21: A quick, quick story about me is when I was younger, I wanted to make video games and I figured, you know what, when I go to college, I’m going to learn how to do programming. And I went to programming and we did C Sharp or C++, I don’t remember what it was, and I was terrible at it. in there and I remember going through high school and I was just like, I was terrible at Spanish. I was terrible at all the languages that I needed to learn. I’m just like, I want to learn how to code, but this is just literally another language and I am terrible at languages. Like I’m a numbers guy. Give me numbers and I can make magic with numbers. But when it came to that, it just taught me that coding is just another language and I am terrible at languages. So do you know any code?

Lauren Wade: 04:22: 04:54: Not really. I’ve messed around with JSON files and that’s about as much as I’ve ever done just because to me actually like coding language is more like logic than language and as anyone who speaks a language will know. Languages try to be logical and they’re generally not like you know English I before E except after C except for all of these words that don’t follow that rule so there’s not a lot of logic it’s just getting used to the rules of it and the exceptions whereas with coding it’s very much if this then this don’t. So it’s almost too logical for me. I need it to be a bit more broken and alive for it to be a language I speak.

Greg Posner: 04:54: 05:01: You know, when you bake, you have to be exact. When you cook, you could just use your… Interesting.

Lauren Wade: 05:01: 05:01: Indeed.

Greg Posner: 05:01: 05:17: So I want to back up to something you said a little earlier, right? When it comes to player communication, you mentioned a bunch of channels, right? And, you know, channels change over the years, right? Discord’s becoming huge. What channel are you seeing most of your player communication happening on?

Lauren Wade: 05:18: 06:12: Oh, it’s difficult to say really, because we actually have different audiences gravitating towards different platforms. So I would say we’ve got a very different audience, for example, on different Facebook pages or groups than we have on Discord. It’s also just because we as people communicate differently, and we have our preferred way of doing it. So Facebook, for example, because it is very like, post and comment driven. It’s almost a bit more static, whereas Discord, especially with anything like Twitch as well, it’s so alive, it’s constant, it’s so much messaging. And for some people, it might just be like, that’s too much. It’s too much like live stream and it’s busy. And so, you know, so where like Facebook that’s more static is better for them. But yeah, I would say between, yeah, Facebook, because it’s been around for so long, right? I think at this point, most people have had something to do with it. And Discord, because as you say, it’s just starting to really take off, it seems.

Greg Posner: 06:12: 06:32: So something about Calibri Games for our listeners, they kind of perfected the idle style games, which maybe you can give a quick overview on what an idle game is. And then my follow up question is going to be is, are the different channels because there’s different demographics playing the different titles, even though it’s the same style game?

Lauren Wade: 06:33: 08:02: Nice questions. So yeah, an idle game is essentially one that kind of plays for you when you’ve left. So you do have to put in a bit of work at the beginning in order to automate it. So if I take our main title, Idle Miner Tycoon, for example, you have to make sure you’ve hired managers in all the relevant places. And then when you leave the game, they will keep everything running for you so that when you come back, you’ve got something to collect and then you can immediately invest what you’ve collected and upgrade further. So yeah, that’s kind of the appeal of the idle games is that Yeah, it’s not entirely kind of blocked when you’re not in the game, but of course you do still need to go in to do stuff. And as for, yeah, different channels, different audiences, I think absolutely the wonderful thing about mobile especially, but also idle games is that you can have such a global audience and such a wide range of ages as well. Just meaning that, yeah, like I said before, people will gravitate towards their preferred platforms. or for example if you only play it on the commute to work maybe on your work phone you’re not allowed to have this particular platform so you’ll have a different one and just that’s how you find your little way into whichever community you want and that’s whether you want to be an active participant or not I mean plenty of people lurk on social media right and that’s also something that’s great about many game communities is that they’re not gated so you can still go and read the info get the hype get the info get the strategies and everything without necessarily needing to contribute. We want you to contribute, but yeah, it’s still a really nice thing that the gaming communities are open to all, essentially.

Greg Posner: 08:02: 08:42: Yeah, and what’s fun about the idle games, and I wasn’t really a big player of them until Lauren and I first talked, and then she told me about one, and I found Idle Bank Tycoon, and it’s nice, like you said, you kind of set it up, and it’s nice that you don’t have to actively always be there, right? You can kind of come at your own will, collect what you need to, and keep building from there. I think channels are important, and I appreciate your insight on that. When we take a look at you, Lauren, and we go back maybe to younger Lauren, and you’re thinking, what do I want to do when I grow up? Most people aren’t dreaming of running player communications, and maybe they are. That’s a notable one. Some other ones are wild and out there. But what did you want to do when you were growing up?

Lauren Wade: 08:45: 09:50: wasn’t anything to do with games. Very much until the year that I moved into gaming, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that you could work in gaming. Games were a thing that happened and I guess I just imagined they got created out of nothing. But tying to my language type nerdiness. I think at one point I wanted to be an author because I also love playing with the English language and words and I thought that would be cool. Amusingly at one point I wanted to be an opera singer because then I could sing in different languages and because I enjoy singing and I’ve got quite a kind of operatic voice when I sing so I was like oh that could do that. Yeah, so it wasn’t thinking about being in player communications. It really was just after having spent about a decade in retail, wanting to move back to Germany, where we’re now based. It’s, yeah, it just happened to be gaming that I ended up coming across with kind of support roles. And that was the, oh, games, games are a whole, like, industry because, yeah, playing them as a kid, they’re just there. They’re just this great world you get immersed in. And at the time, I just honestly didn’t think that that was a direction to take.

Greg Posner: 09:51: 09:57: So you’ve always been artistic. How often are you still singing opera?

Lauren Wade: 09:57: 10:04: Opera, not so much unless I’m doing it around the house, but I do sing in a choir at least. So I get a little bit of singing in, which is good.

Greg Posner: 10:04: 10:19: It’s interesting, right? Your whole artistic background, right? Writings and singing, right? That works into player communication. Do you see a lot of crossover from the things that you’ve learned from both those as well as the localization and how it communicates, how it translates well to the player communication?

Lauren Wade: 10:21: 10:40: Definitely, I’d say it’s yeah, gaming as a whole is very creative. Even kind of in the service departments, just yeah, ultimately, we’re working with a very creative media, but therefore, yeah, it just gives way to anything else that’s creative that blossoms from it, I think.

Greg Posner: 10:40: 11:03: Is there a and this is a weird question, right? Is there a country or group of users that are more appreciative of the uniqueness, the creativity of the different ways you could provide this stuff? Maybe this is a weird question. And we should just not go there. But I’m just curious if that makes sense. But we could we could pass on that one.

Lauren Wade: 11:04: 11:24: It makes total sense, though. Honestly, there isn’t one that I can single out. Truly, we are blessed at Colibri with the wonderful communities that we have, and just across the globe, in each region, we just have great sets of players. So honestly, I couldn’t single one of them out, which is really, really nice.

Greg Posner: 11:25: 11:48: So when you start taking a look at kind of your community management and you’re talking about players experiences, right, you have to think about on a global level, maybe different players in different countries have different experiences here. Have you kind of created a structure? We like to call them pillars at times, like these are our main pillars when it comes to customer support. These are the things we must do. These are core values, I guess, is another way to look at it.

Lauren Wade: 11:50: 13:12: It’s a good question. And I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s even just for support because very much for for me support and then the community management like everything together. It has to be one because ultimately, The players don’t see it as, oh, this support agent told me this, but this community manager told me this. We’re speaking as the game or the company. And so having that unified approach is kind of a core value. So that’s across the channels. I don’t want you to go to one channel and be told one thing and something completely different somewhere else. That’s a horrible experience. So that’s, yeah, one of my pillars. And I think with that in mind, another one for me really is the harmony and cohesion between product and then departments like mine, just because ultimately, when you talk about the player experience, so often it is used as being part of customer support, but to me as a player, my experience is mostly the game. and or the community and or the localization. And actually, if I get as far as customer support, it probably means something went wrong, and that’s not part of the experience I should be having. So seeing all that as a whole with the product lumped in as well for the player experience, it’s why I think, yeah, making sure that the product teams are working as closely as possible with us means that we as a game, we as a company can then present, yeah, a unified approach, which ultimately is the seamless experience you want for the player, right? I think that made sense.

Greg Posner: 13:12: 13:39: Got a bit nasty, but… It does. No, it’s great because it kind of leads into our next question. How do you work with your product team? How do you get them the appropriate information to escalate specific items? How do you help prioritize what happens next? Is it a bug fix? Is it a new game? Is it a feature? Like, what’s that communication process like? What tools do you maybe use? Obviously, help shift falls somewhere in there. We don’t have to go there. But like, is it a Jira shop? Is it something else? Like, how does all this work?

Lauren Wade: 13:41: 14:54: It’s mostly for my team, just so we’re not interfering with other people’s processes. We’re not actually making things in Jira directly, just so that we don’t create extra noise. But we talk a lot in person. I’m literally in the office looking at people in QA as I speak. So very much in person, we can have a lot of communication with our product teams but essentially over things like Slack we just were constantly like as soon as something kicks off we’ll be messaging about it and then product will be jumping on it or giving us feedback on it and together we can then coordinate accordingly because yeah it’s also a bit of a challenge especially for my team when you’re face to face with player problems to give that the appropriate severity for product but also seeing it in a broader scope of things. Like if you know that product are right now fixing something that’s been your number one bug forever and you come in with your number two bug, you know, they only have so much time that they can dedicate and so many resources. So it’s also then having that ability to be able to help them say, do we drop the one that we’ve been working on? Do we work on this one? What do you need? And ultimately everybody working towards something for the good of the players. It’s yeah. So lots of active kind of written and spoken communication just to align essentially.

Greg Posner: 14:55: 15:02: Is it, do you have, do you have power in helping shape the roadmap based on what you’re hearing from the players?

Lauren Wade: 15:02: 15:19: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. We do. It’s really nice like that. So yeah, being able to maybe say, Hey, can we see that sooner? Hey, can we do this here? Hey, is this going to come in? Um, so yeah, very much. It’s a very collaborative thing, which is really, really awesome.

Greg Posner: 15:19: 15:23: You’ve been at a number of gaming studios now at this point, right? You’re at good games. You’re at area.

Lauren Wade: 15:24: 15:25: Indeed. Yes, yes, yes.

Greg Posner: 15:25: 15:37: Is it similar from studio to studio, the same experiences that you’re seeing? I know your role may have been a little different, but do each studio, are they acting, operating very differently or do you see commonality, common themes across the different studios?

Lauren Wade: 15:38: 16:32: I think so. In German, there’s a great phrase that there’s a roter Faden, which is literally like a red thread that runs through the middle of something kind of like the theme. And I think with all kinds of player experience things, every company has that red thread. Ultimately, we’re all just going to try and do the best we can by the players with whatever games or resources or teams or anything else we’re working with. So no, that’s absolutely true of everywhere. We’re all just trying to do our best. But then it really depends on your community. When I think of other games that I’ve worked on, I was possibly on different platforms more heavily than I am now or things like that. So yeah, it really does just vary. It’s also why events like that community clubhouse where you get to speak to people, it’s super interesting to hear like, oh, actually, you’re focusing on this. And oh, you have problems with that. But actually, I’ve never seen that. And so yeah, it’s, yeah, it really is just different flavors of the same thing everywhere.

Greg Posner: 16:32: 16:49: Is there anything that you’ve learned that whether it be a good game or some area game that is something that you brought with you to Calibri Games? Is it something that is there some thing that maybe even if it’s just a collection of data, a tool, a process that… No?

Lauren Wade: 16:49: 17:17: I don’t know. I think… I’d almost want to just be cheesy and say it’s the love for the job that I’m doing. I mean, I could have started out my first job in gaming and realized gaming wasn’t for me and gone off and done like language teaching or something, which was also a possibility I could have done with all of the languages and I considered it. So I think just all jobs that I have had have given me the joy and the knowledge that I’m doing what I should be doing. Awesome. That’s really cheesy.

Greg Posner: 17:17: 17:51: But yeah, you know, because once I started this podcast, I was like, I just love talking to people. And like, when you’re excited about what you do, like it kind of changes your outlook on how you’re going to do it, your excitement going to work, like it’s sad that you get excited about Mondays, like, yeah, I’m mostly excited because my kids get out of the house. But we can get back to it now. At this part of the podcast, I didn’t warn you about this. I like to do kind of like a fire round where I’m just going to shoot some random, random questions, simple questions, maybe. Don’t put much thought into it. It’ll take about a minute or so. So good to go.

Lauren Wade: 17:51: 17:53: Okay, let’s do it.

Greg Posner: 17:53: 17:57: If you’re going to go to a bar, what type of drink are you ordering?

Lauren Wade: 17:57: 18:00: Probably a creamy cocktail, like a White Russian or a Pina Colada.

Greg Posner: 18:00: 18:04: Cool. What is the last game you played?

Lauren Wade: 18:04: 18:05: Hogwarts Legacy.

Greg Posner: 18:05: 18:07: Oh, nice. What did you have for breakfast today?

Lauren Wade: 18:08: 18:12: Cornflakes, very dull.

Greg Posner: 18:12: 18:16: Love it. Can’t go wrong with cereal. What’s the last book you read?

Lauren Wade: 18:16: 18:26: I’m technically still reading it. I haven’t finished it, but I am on book, I think 40 or 41 in the Discworld series. So I’ve been reading all of the Discworld books.

Greg Posner: 18:26: 18:28: How do you have that much time?

Lauren Wade: 18:28: 18:34: I started, I started reading them right before the pandemic. So it’s not like I’ve been fast.

Greg Posner: 18:34: 18:37: Fantastic. And last one, what is your ideal vacation?

Lauren Wade: 18:39: 18:52: Oh, some kind of like city trip type thing. I’m the kind of person that really likes to go and see somewhere new and see a lot of it. So I end up needing a holiday from my holiday, if you know what I mean. So yeah, that kind of thing. There you go.

Greg Posner: 18:52: 19:12: Love it. Okay, that’s it. Back to the regular regular scheduled questions here. Are there any communities that you think that you’ve been a part of that really helped shape your career? Maybe not just communities where people are like a discord community, it could be a LinkedIn, but like, where have you gotten your information? What helped kind of shape you learn?

Lauren Wade: 19:12: 20:31: Oh, well, I mean, obviously, every previous job or person I came into contact with, especially because you keep so many contacts in gaming, it’s such a small industry at the end of the day. So just yeah, kind of shout out to any, any player or person I ever interacted with in my time in gaming, because somehow you’ll have influenced it. Yeah, even just I think right at the foundation of it is almost my memories of the early communities that I lurked in. So way, way back in the day, I’m a big point and click player. And way, way back, I just know that we’d go looking for like walkthroughs and stuff because we’d get stuck because you’d have to try and solve these ridiculous puzzles and you wouldn’t know how and then it’s almost like I said earlier with these that the openness of the gaming communities in that I didn’t have to create logins for anything, I didn’t have to like post a certain amount of times to get the info I wanted. The gaming communities were just like, hey, I figured this out, here’s how you do it, have fun, which I loved. And so just that wonderful sense of community that I witnessed is kind of almost, yeah, humming away underneath everything that we’re doing now, which is super nice. Definite big shout out to them. Yeah, anyone who might have written a walkthrough for any of the old Point and Clicks I played or anyone who did walkthroughs for how to find all the Riddler trophies in Arkham City, because yes, I bothered to do that. So thanks to you if you’re one of those people.

Greg Posner: 20:32: 20:52: The community is great and it’s underrated. I’ve been playing a lot of Starfield recently and it’s a newer game and it’s just very complex and you’re able to google or anything and there’s a whole thread about how people have created these resources and done all this stuff and I’m just like good for you for taking the time to do this. You’re a hero and you’re underestimated.

Lauren Wade: 20:52: 21:02: Exactly, because they don’t have to do that. No. You could just be like, I have to figure it out, you can go and figure it out. But no, they want to share. And it’s just, it’s lovely. It’s just so nice.

Greg Posner: 21:02: 21:21: What’s also fun is I’ve heard now, doing a number of these podcasts, the number of companies hire these individuals that have done all this because they see the work that they’re doing. And a lot of times individuals don’t want the job. They’re like, I just like to do this for fun. Like, Good. It’s the love of the game. You should still take a job, but it’s for the love of the game.

Lauren Wade: 21:21: 21:25: Yeah. Not all heroes wear capes, as they say.

Greg Posner: 21:25: 21:44: With player communication, right? And we’re in this interesting time where AI is now becoming a great, well, maybe great’s not the right word. You could use your own word, a way to craft communications, send communications. Have you started using any of these tools or things that worry you or excite you?

Lauren Wade: 21:45: 22:38: And I mean, the whole topic is just so big, I think we’d be here for about six podcasts minimum talking about it. But essentially, I absolutely can see a lot of benefits to it as long as it’s properly used. I do not believe that AI will 100% replace anyone or anything just because you need that humanity especially in something like player communications where there are just so many subtleties and yes you can train your AIs over time but it’s yeah having that that human eye on it or just that human understanding of your players you know knowing okay this particular player I know this history I know how we talk to each other I know this I know that it’s yeah that’s just you can get it almost to a perfect thing, like 99%, I’m sure over the years to come. But I, yeah, I think AI needs to be hand in hand with the humans for sure.

Greg Posner: 22:38: 22:54: Yeah. So I guess also, when you’re looking at that stuff, right? Does it work the same in the different languages that you do it with, right? English, I mess around with it. And I’m not even sure if these work in all the different languages that you’ve, you’ve played around. And how does that work as well? Right? Those are questions I don’t know.

Lauren Wade: 22:54: 23:18: Exactly. And that’s even not just across languages. But even if you take English, I mean, you know, hearing our respective accents, like what works for like, the US English, maybe won’t work for standard UK English, maybe you want it to be in a proper like Cockney, London accent, whatever you’re having written, maybe you want it in a northern accent like mine, like just there are so many subtleties that are just, yeah, just maybe not there yet.

Greg Posner: 23:19: 23:30: What about from the product side, right? When you’re building games, I’m not sure if you have this visibility into the company, but do you know if the company is exploring any sort of AI trends to implement into gaming or not quite yet?

Lauren Wade: 23:30: 23:37: Couldn’t say, to be honest. I’ll have to wait and see what they bring to me.

Greg Posner: 23:37: 23:45: You mentioned earlier in the conversation that you kind of had your start in retail before coming into gaming. How did that leap from one to the other happen?

Lauren Wade: 23:48: 24:39: mainly I’d, yeah, I had just wanted to move back to Germany. I was still living in the UK at the time but having done a year abroad for university for the languages I studied, I missed Germany and so I was just kind of looking around for jobs in Germany and then one popped up that was, yeah, gaming and customer support and kind of, yeah, it just spoke to me and worked out. So it really was just, yeah, from retail to digital customer service felt like it was logical, I’d been doing face to face. And so then switching to digital wasn’t, yeah, too unusual. It’s really not too unusual to see people make these kind of switches, I think. So from places like retail, or hospitality, call centers, this kind of thing, if you’ve done some form of customer service, then it can be applicable to roles like this, I think.

Greg Posner: 24:40: 25:01: Yeah, I agree. Right. And I think it goes the other way, too. Right. You can take I always personally like to think gaming helps kind of set the cornerstone of how how customer service works, because the freemium model changes how you have to handle groups, large groups of individuals. So I think it’s interesting to be able to see it from this and how you can translate it into other verticals. I think it’s a fun thing to be able to look at.

Lauren Wade: 25:01: 25:47: Absolutely. I think even it’s great to have to deal with the, the power of the, the passion and the emotions that come through with gaming, because it’s very different to like, if you’re selling like pens to people, and you’re sold out of the particular color pen that they needed, and they get annoyed with you, like that’s, That’s a very different thing to if your favorite game that you’ve logged thousands of hours into crashes and you lose something or whatever. The passion that comes from the gaming side is really something quite different to deal with, I think, and it’s a beautiful thing for that. I’ve always thought that I vibe with players a bit more just because, yeah, I’m a gamer as well, and I have seen things happen in games that I play just to know how that feels, and it’s just different, right?

Greg Posner: 25:48: 26:16: And I completely agree with you, but that’s also what kind of scares me about going fully digital is that things can be just turned off, right? You log thousands of hours into Counter-Strike, you log thousands of hours into this game that all of a sudden is like, oh, you know what? We’re going to turn the servers off. And then all of a sudden it’s like, my game, what happened to all this time? It’s both exciting and scary and kind of what’s going to happen as that medium continues to change on how we interact with games and where those saves and data lives.

Lauren Wade: 26:16: 26:49: Yeah, for sure. Oh, but even with physical things in retail, I mean, yeah, if you’re selling food items, for example, one day they, you know, you might have to change the recipe because of, I don’t know, some, yeah, change in the supply line or just people don’t like the recipe anymore or whatever. But then the one person whose favorite recipe it was will be like, no, my favorite product. So I mean, we just need to enjoy all of the things we enjoy while we can. It’s the whole, again, cheesy, you know, seize the day, enjoy it today kind of stuff. Coming out with cheesy stuff this podcast.

Greg Posner: 26:49: 27:21: With all this being said, though, like, do you think about this stuff on your day to day basis, like when you’re doing your job, like the passion of the players that you’re working with, right? Like, you know, we talked about automation, we talked about bots, and bots do serve a role, right? Like, if I want to wait and reset my password, I don’t want to have to wait 10 minutes for an agent, I want a bot to just do it instantly. But at the same time, I don’t want my player that’s been spending money enough to have this robotic experience like. How does this balance work? And you may not even be able to answer it, right?

Lauren Wade: 27:21: 28:20: Yeah. I don’t think that there’s a perfect formula for it, or if there is, it will be a different formula for every game, every company. So yeah, exactly. It’s balancing speed, which is where your automations and stuff absolutely can be faster than your humans. And that’s ultimately really important. Whatever problem I’ve had, I want it fixed so I can get back to gaming. But at the same time, you want to have that human element to it. really know in advance, not in every case at least, what your player wants or needs, because some people will favor speed over anything else, some people will absolutely want the human interaction, some days people have a different feeling towards it anyway, so it’s just a case of trying it out and seeing where your sweet point in the middle is and just knowing that, yeah, sometimes people might have to wait for human when they could have gone through a bot or sometimes they’ll go through a bot and they’ll be annoyed about it because they, yeah, It really is just finding where that point in the middle kind of is, I think.

Greg Posner: 28:20: 28:35: Is it your role or is it a different role of the company that takes a look at things like customer satisfaction and decides to build out new automations or change up workflows? Whose role is that and how often is it looked at?

Lauren Wade: 28:36: 29:25: Yeah, that’s our department. So we yeah, we look at CSAT like all of the time and CSAT is always an interesting one because I often find you can’t take it just as a cold hard number. It’s absolutely kind of a good pulse check, but you so often have to dig a bit deeper in to understand it because of course so often with that passion, behind what players are doing if they’ve had a bad experience in the game no matter how well you’ve helped them they might rate the problem that they had or the feature you didn’t put in or something like that or they might just be playing around with the fun bot and oh look the one star looked cute or something so digging a bit deeper to actually understand what the issues are that’s always important with the CSAT but it’s absolutely part of it because you know they don’t have to leave you a CSAT, and if they’ve taken the time to do it, then yeah, seeing what they’ve said about it is definitely important.

Greg Posner: 29:25: 30:04: Yeah, we released an update at Helpshift a couple, maybe a year ago or so, where each star rating, right, you can start to dig into it, like why, and it makes sense, because you know what, you want that perfect 5 CSAT, everyone does, right, it’s impossible, but when someone comes and says, hey, I want my account unbanned, because I was banned, because I did terrible things in the game, and Laura comes to me and says, No, Greg, you’re still banned. You did terrible things in there. Like, I’m not gonna give you a five star like, Oh, thanks for telling me I’m still banned. Like, we got to understand why, why did Greg give it one star that you can see that you can be like, Oh, all right, well, it is what it is, right? Like, it’s a ban request, like certain types of issues are going to get bad c set. And that’s just the story.

Lauren Wade: 30:04: 30:48: Exactly. But you do have to check because especially thinking of kind of the, the words, the language, the localization side of things is that sometimes if you see this player said oh you know I found the tone a bit rude or something if you then read it back through of course I think I was actually speaking about this with someone at the community clubhouse how it’s not the person doing the writing that sets the tone it’s the person reading it so the support agent maybe wrote something in a way that they thought was just nice and clear for the player but actually depending on your I don’t know, cultural interpretation of a certain phrase or something, or just how it was put in the whole thing. Yeah, the player might have read it in a more negative way than it was intended. And then that turns into feedback for phrasing and stuff, which we’ll then do in how, like, there’s, yeah, there’s so much to it.

Greg Posner: 30:48: 30:59: I love that the tone is set by the reader, right? Because so many times you get a text message, and you’re like, why is this person so mad at me? And it’s just like, just how I’m reading the text message, actually just asking how I’m doing today.

Lauren Wade: 31:00: 31:35: Yeah, exactly. It’s yeah. And that’s also why it right down to the little things in the messages that we write, like the amount of exclamation marks you use, like exclamation marks, when used properly can be for hype or for stress or something. But if you’ve got too many of them, then it undermines it or it looks like you’re shouting at somebody. And just yeah, it’s really, Yeah, I think a support message or a public post or just whatever, much like a translation, it’s never finished. There’s always another way you could have done it. And so, yeah, learning from them is always super interesting. And that’s the language nerd again, I think.

Greg Posner: 31:36: 31:58: Well, you know, I feel like there’s these questions. I don’t know if we want to dig into but when it comes to your the support agents, right? Do they have the freedom to respond just with whatever text are you do? Do you recommend them using text templates? Like, how much is this gated versus it’s the creative freedom and sounds weird talking in that tone, but

Lauren Wade: 32:00: 32:36: No, there’s absolutely freedom. For me, the text templates are more like time savers, because we do get a lot of very similar messages, right? We have a lot of players who will ask the same things. And so it’s just easier to have certain walkthroughs in a certain manner that they can just use. But no, we absolutely have full kind of creative freedom to reply to people. So I love seeing that when people have Tailored their responses to a particularly invested player who’s I don’t know had a really great idea Maybe even centers like artwork or something just who knows just it’s it’s so much nicer to see them have an actual Human-to-human conversation.

Greg Posner: 32:36: 32:47: So no fully fully approved awesome What tools do you use on a daily basis that help you keep your life organized and move it forward?

Lauren Wade: 32:48: 33:44: I like that you assume my life is organized. No, it’s fine. Yes, I like to try and be as organized as possible. I mean, let me think, we, everybody’s kind of got a different way of working. So I’ve tried to come up with kind of unified things that everyone can use. But yeah, some people on my team seem to like to have every single possible tab open at once. And they know where everything is. And that’s how they know what’s going on. I can’t work like that at all. So I’m more like, I’ve got little like tab groups that I can open up if I’m doing certain things. We have priorities that we have to follow. And we’ve got those in I don’t know, maybe it’s in a Google Sheet from before just because that’s very collaborative. I’m a prolific user of my Slack bot reminders just because that’s so much easier than moving it into something else. If somebody pings me, hey, do this, I set my reminders. So, yeah, each to his own. But I try to be as organized as possible with these few simple tools.

Greg Posner: 33:44: 33:58: There you go. I haven’t tried Slack bot reminders. I change my tool every few days. I hate one tool after a few days. It’s just like I maybe just can’t work with tools. I just stay disorganized. But it’s always curious to kind of see how people are accomplishing their day to day work.

Lauren Wade: 33:58: 34:27: It’s whatever works. I mean, I’m actually I’m much more of a kind of pen and paper person. I always do have a notebook by my side and I have multicolored pens and stuff and I cross them off when I’m done with it and things like that. But also because our work is so digital, I often feel bad. for my physical pen and paper, because most of the time, whatever I’ve physically written down probably has to be on my laptop at some point. So I should probably save my own time by just writing it. But oh, it’s that pen and paper thing is just still too nice for me.

Greg Posner: 34:27: 34:33: It’s just it’s easier to remember. I think when you’re physically writing, I think it just ingrains it in your brain as well.

Lauren Wade: 34:33: 34:39: Yeah, I guess this is why teachers would make us do lines when we were kids, right? Because it supposedly ingrains it into your head.

Greg Posner: 34:39: 34:56: Hopefully. Next five years, gaming is going to change because gaming changes all the time. Do you have any thoughts or predictions on where kind of the players experience or how it’s going to change or how players are even just going to interact with the games over the next five years?

Lauren Wade: 34:58: 35:47: I’m never very good at predictions, especially just because I’m now so used to being in quite a service driven department that I’m like, I go with the flow. We’ll just make it work with whatever’s coming. But I mean, we’ve mentioned the automations, the AI that can only continue, right? I think actually, rather than what we will see, I’ll just say what I would hope to see, which is back to one of those pillars that I mentioned, this harmony and close work with product teams. just because ultimately, you know, too many cooks can spoil the broth. So I totally get that not everybody can be involved in everything at every step of a project, but very much, yeah, as the player experience grows, just making sure that, yeah, we have the product and the support services as close together as possible. It’s going to be the way that you make everything great for the players. And yeah.

Greg Posner: 35:47: 36:44: I like that saying, too many cooks can spoil the broth. I like the way you’re going, because I think even here, we struggle at times getting the feedback from customer to product, right? It kind of becomes this messy flow. And we offer, right, we have a GR plugin with Helpshift that some companies utilize, right? And that’s fine. That’s a good way to do it. But I’m always just curious. And that’s why I asked you earlier, like, how do you get your feedback to the product team, right? Is it weekly standups? Is it monthly standups? Is it just Slack messages? Because There’s certain companies I’ve worked with over time where it’s just kind of like, oh, I’m going to tell something to product. And it’s like in one ear, out the other ear. It’s just like, I know this isn’t sticking. And then how do you take numbers? Like, hey, Lauren’s spent $10,000 an app in the game last month. We probably want to take that bug that she’s having and make it priority. Like, how do you get the product team to listen? And I think it’s a great way to think about it. And over the next five years, how is that communication? How do you make that work?

Lauren Wade: 36:44: 38:00: Exactly, because it has to be in both directions as well. I really do see it as a team effort. It shouldn’t just be me constantly shouting at the product team being like, why aren’t you listening to me doing what I tell you to? Because ultimately, they’re trying to keep the product running and trying to make sure that in the long run, in the bigger picture that we often don’t see that everything is going the way that it should. So it’s also then if the product team are like, we cannot prioritize this thing that you’re telling us about. Here are the reasons. Here’s when you can expect it. It’s also good for my team just so that they can adjust how they speak to the players perhaps or just so that they know that we’re not being ignored which I think is possibly what other people perhaps in other countries that you’ve spoken to have possibly felt is that they just don’t hear the we get that this is a thing and we will work on it at some point but um so yeah it’s the two-way two-way communication I think which is super important because Yeah, just because it comes up as an issue today doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on it. And also quite a lot of the time, especially with ideas, I have luckily found players so often will suggest things that we already have ideas for or we’ve already got planned. It’s just because we plan in advance. We just haven’t got there yet. So it’s actually kind of, yeah, just remembering that we’re not just working day to day or week to week. There is a bigger plan, which is where the communication is very important.

Greg Posner: 38:01: 38:25: It’s always fun when a new game comes out and everyone’s like, what were they thinking? Why didn’t they do this? Like, I’m sure the company knows that that’s an issue and they wanted to do that, but there’s a lot of other things that need to happen in order to make this happen, right? It’s a game, a product is a living, breathing tool, right? And you can’t just make a change like this. You gotta make sure you test it out, it’s working, everything sings in harmony, for lack of better words.

Lauren Wade: 38:25: 38:26: Absolutely, yes.

Greg Posner: 38:26: 38:39: For all the linguists out there that want to become player communications reps, what advice would you give them on how you make that transition? What’s important? What are the things you want to pay attention to?

Lauren Wade: 38:41: 39:13: So I think it’s ever so slightly different depending on which of the disciplines I handle you’d go for. So the support side is definitely all the stuff we’ve had before, right? Things like your retail, your hospitality, call centers, anything like that, like hands-on customer service. That will serve you in any job though, in any discipline. This is also something that I live by, which is I think everybody needs to do at least a year in some form of customer service. It will make them better people. So yeah, everybody. Go and do some former customer service, that’ll set you up well.

Greg Posner: 39:13: 39:16: I would say angrier, not better. But both, maybe both.

Lauren Wade: 39:17: 40:46: No, it absolutely makes you better, I think. I’m a better customer because I have been working on the other side of the counter, you know. So that’s very good for the support stuff, for social media, community management, anything like that. If you’re involved already in communities yourself, then that’s already something, especially if you’re, I don’t know, running something, you know, on the side, just for a game or just any product or thing that you like. If you’re doing anything with that, it’s going to help. using social media helps. I mean, technically, we can’t all be like experts on the platforms. But generally, if you’re a daily user of it, you’ll have an idea, which is already helpful. And as for localization stuff, for sure. It’s, yeah, just trying to be as correct and flexible as possible. Obviously, yeah, attention to detail and quality in the language is something that’s across all departments, I think. This is just because I am a language nerd. And so, yeah, if I’ve played super kind of fresh new games that are very small and they’re not doing much with it, but the the loca is like just completely nonsensical and bad quality. It affects my enjoyment of the game and I find the same for then the player’s experience. So yeah, if you’re wanting to go into the localization side of it, community, CM, anything like this, yeah, having that language-y sense is going to be, that makes no sense at all, the language-y sense, but yeah.

Greg Posner: 40:48: 41:00: I have a question that’s going to make not that much sense either. But with your different roles between community management, support, communication, like, what part’s your favorite?

Lauren Wade: 41:00: 41:53: Ah, that’s difficult. It’ll depend on the day. If I’m helping out with something on the localization side and it’s super juicy and it’s like a new, I don’t know, it’s a new character name and we get to do something really creative with it, I’ll love kind of brainstorming on what we can do with it and you know how clever we can get with it and learning what the alternative like versions are and so that’s always super juicy but then on other days if I don’t know we’ve just released a feature and the community are absolutely loving it then I love kind of seeing what’s going on on social media with everybody chatting about it on support side just you know anyone who works in support always loves that kind of checkbox logic of getting stuff done and so yeah just I can’t pick one. It really is. It’s this perfect blend of the three that I really do. I’m very blessed to be able to do that.

Greg Posner: 41:53: 42:10: One of my last questions here is one of the things that I’ve always struggled with is kind of feeling like you hit that glass ceiling or that ceiling of kind of what do I do now? For someone that’s in your role, what’s the next logical step? It may not be what you want, right? But what’s the next logical step before you go from where you are?

Lauren Wade: 42:10: 42:57: Oh, great question. I kind of feel like anything to do with communications is always good. So I mean, yeah. whether it would be, I don’t know, PR type stuff, who knows, that could probably be another string to the bow, because then it isn’t just players, it’s then like peer communication, I suppose, is possibly something that could work. I do know plenty of other people in kind of similar-ish roles where they actually do all communications as part of their role, right? So that’s technically something other people are doing that I’m not, so that could be a logical one. But why not throw a curveball in there? I’m sure there’d be something else that could come up that might just fit how my department works, and then we’ll add it to our kind of skill set, I guess. Open for anything, very flexible.

Greg Posner: 42:57: 43:07: Yeah, keep an open mind, right? There’s always fun things that are even being created to this day. If there’s, you know, with these new channels coming out, new mediums coming up, how to communicate, right? There’s new roles that can be created, especially with AI out there, right?

Lauren Wade: 43:08: 43:20: Exactly, exactly. Or maybe, you know, maybe we end up doing a game where they decide they want a soundtrack with some opera singing on it and I’ll be like, ah, my time has come. And then I’ll do that. Which language?

Greg Posner: 43:20: 43:29: Exactly. Lastly, for our fans out there that want to play Calibri games, any news, any updates you can provide anyone?

Lauren Wade: 43:30: 43:55: Ooh, um, no specifics, but I mean, depending on when you’re listening to this, uh, the, the big kind of end of year seasons are about to kick off. We’re going to go through Halloween, right the way to the new year with everything in between. And that’s always an exciting time with fun stuff that will happen, uh, in the games. So yeah, just, um, yeah, that big end of year roller coaster will be the thing to look out for.

Greg Posner: 43:55: 44:01: So my, my last question I have for you, Lauren, and I appreciate you being on here today is. What language are you going to learn next?

Lauren Wade: 44:02: 44:31: Oh, great question. I was actually thinking, I’d love to learn sign language. Yeah, it’s also a very kind of useful practical one, but that then it also fascinates me because there’s going to be so many different versions of it. I believe American Sign Language is different to British Sign Language is probably different to German Sign Language. So that will open a whole wonderful, interesting rabbit hole where it’s not just words, it’s kind of gestures as well. And I think that’s, yeah, that’s extremely fascinating.

Greg Posner: 44:32: 44:56: Crazy. I never really thought about that, but I guess that makes sense since our languages are different. So crazy. Awesome. Well, Lauren, I appreciate you coming and taking the time today. This was a few months in the making. It was cheesy. It was informative. It was fun. How can our listeners stay up to date with both you, Calibri Games? Is there anything you want to share with our audience or plug?

Lauren Wade: 44:58: 45:17: No, no plugs. I mean, just yeah, stay connected people. Like I said earlier, everyone that I come into contact with in this job, like, yeah, everyone’s wonderful. We all learn a lot from each other. So yeah, just stay connected. I mean, the classic plug, I suppose, is just LinkedIn companies on LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn. Check it out. Get connected. Have a chat.

Greg Posner: 45:17: 45:36: I’m gonna edit this part out. So just I’m gonna hit stop. Don’t actually leave because the files need to upload out. So okay, all good. So thank you again, Lauren, for coming on. We’ll have all of Lauren’s as well as Calibri Games information on their player engaged website. We’ll post it online. I appreciate you again coming on today and I hope you have a great rest of your day.

Lauren Wade: 45:36: 45:38: Thank you so much for having me. See you soon.

Greg Posner: 45:38: 45:39: Bye.

Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

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