Professional Fandom: Conversation and Layers of Community Management


  • Jessica Merizan, Lead Community and New Media Manager
  • David Hulegaard, Community Manager
  • Leah Shinkewski, Associate Producer (working on Dragon Age Keep)
  • Conal Pierse, New Media Production Coordinator

Working with Community

"I listen to everything."

When servicing communities, multiple areas of different disciplines and responsibilities exist. It’s important to be amiable with the community, but also interactive with the internal development teams as well. If you need resources, you need to know where to get them. Working with a team is essential. Analysts, content creators…many facets are used to help promote something that the players love. Have good taste. Empathy. No man’s an island. Believe in your ideas. All these things encompass what it means to work within a community.

The Bioware Community

Letting the people experience the games, the same way Bioware has revealed screenshots, blogs, character kits, and more, have been essential. 

Restructuring was vital to convert BSN from a place where people were talking at each other (toxic is a very common word in describing old BSN) into a place where people were conversing with each other. It now serves as a “marketplace of minds.” The forums serve that purpose, while social encompasses everything: Keep, HQ, Bioware blog, N7 HQ, registering games, and all Bioware’s social media. 

"Why don’t we bring the Bioware base online?" Without anyone having to leave their house, Bioware created the Bioware base Youtube and Instagram. As an effort to bring content directly to viewers, new efforts like the "Take Your Place in Inquisition" contest and behind-the-scenes voice over videos were made available.

In the end, Bioware feels it is their responsibility to create spaces, manage boundaries, and educate fans towards constructive discourse. Of course, in the kindest way by “politely [pointing] out ‘please don’t do that’” for the betterment of the community mind. 

Dragon Age: Keep and the Community

Keep is in closed beta, with the main goal in opening up the Keep to fans. By developing Keep on a manageable scale, they are taking ultimate care of the product to make sure fans down the line enjoy what they see. In its agile devlopment, there is a waver in “where our features are going”, but in providing the Keep to fans overtime, the analytics and feedback provided by the players will be invaluable. “It tells us what our priorities should be,” and tuning the development of the Keep will ensure its helpfulness for fans in the future.


"Fan content is half of what gets us through the day."

UGC stands for user generated content, for example: fan art, machinima, cosplay, movies, videos, music, and more. The panel admitted that Bioware has a wall with pictures of pinned up fan art, cosplay, “inquisitor helmets”, youtube videos, fanfiction, and other creations. 

While there’s no guarantee or official plans laid out yet, the community staff is “heavily looking” into promoting creators through new mediums. Character kits are the best example of their efforts to help cosplayers and artists in creations. We will see more to come. 

Regarding “Take Your Place DAI”  

Take Your Place was a voiceover contest held recently by Bioware, offering the chance for a person to voice a character for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Unfortunately, this contest was restricted to only certain countries due to legal regulations in certain countries and timing. ”We need to do a better job,” Jessica Merizan stated in regards to involving all regions into community events. As of recent, their team is in talks with international community teams in order to be more inclusive for future contests.

Becoming a Community Manager

Many facets of a CM are important, but the following are good recommendations for prospective applicants.

  • Volunteer in community-related endeavors, like forum moderator
  • Understand Youtube analytics, Google analytics, Twitter
  • Knowing why the Facebook algorithm is messed up (shows only a small percentage of fans your content)
  • Do anything with community management experience and get it on your resume
  • Read anthropology books (obviously this tip comes from Jessica Merizan), as it helps you learn how to differentiate between a person having a bad day or being a troll, predator, or sociopath