Game Masters in Philippine online game publishers are the front-liners of game operations and in recent times, female game masters have become the face of games on the marketing side. To be frank, I was one of those marketing people who enabled this kind of strategy especially with Cross Fire. However, in spite of what people on the outside think, there are a lot more things going behind the scenes with the ever-so-popular female game masters than people think of. Now, possibly for the first time in Philippine blogging history, we take a look at the inside workings of being a game master with an interview with one of my former game masters, GM Ayla.
mrslash (30liv.es): This is an utterly pointless question coming from me, but I need to ask it anyway. What is it that you do as a GM? Most people picture this as playing games all day. I also imagine that people who interviewed you for your next job assumed the same.
GM Ayla: Yes, hahaha, I was asked if “I just played all day” as a game master. I was primarily assigned to handle the community of Cross Fire. Part of this entails managing the game forums and SNS channels, Facebook primarily. I also had to propose and implement in-game events and all of us GMs were required implement and host major onsite tournaments. But in spite of being more focused on the community, I also had to participate in QA (quality assurance) for new patches and bug reporting (to the developers). We also had to do billing related back-checking especially with purchase or top-up problems coming from players with our game. Thankfully, billing problems were not common.
mrslash (30liv.es): Okay, so can you describe your typical day?
GM Ayala: I enter the office after a long commute, go to my seat, turn on my computer…
mrslash (30liv.es): Not so literal please… :P
GM Ayla: Hahaha!… Okay, the first thing I do is log into the game forums, the Cross Fire fan page, and my own GM fan page on Facebook. I check my inbox on those channels for new personal messages (PMs) from players with relevant inquiries such as billing issues, latency problems, suggestions and even new hack tools found by players. I had to regularly delete and moderate comments from players on the forums and Facebook pages because the community temperature frequently becomes very toxic with new hack tools and problems popping up here and there. I report major concerns immediately to the product manager and compile relevant discussions from the community for a weekly report. We then proceed to insert in-game items to winners of weekly cafe tournaments that were conducted by the sales/field team.
We normally host in-game events in the afternoon. Conducting in-game events is simply hosting a room for players to play in and recording the results after each game. We normally do 4 – 8 games per day per game master and we reward all participants almost right after the event. So we award around 2 to 3 in-game items to 60 to 120 players a day. We release new content every month so there will normally be a week or two of patch testing in the afternoon. Part of this patch testing is actually testing the function of every single item in the game as well as purchasing them to see if the proper amount of money is deducted. It’s actually very tedious because the more content that is patched, the more things we have to test. We had to do this because sometimes when the game is patched, something breaks and if we don’t catch it, the players will suffer and that is a major problem for us.
mrslash (30liv.es): Speaking of major problems, the game master gig isn’t really as easy as what people would think, is it?
GM Ayla: No it isn’t easy at all! People have no idea how stressful it becomes especially when major problems happen like during the time Gameclub’s servers were raided. The reactions from players were really bad that profanity was actually the lightest thing thrown at us. The comments we received were really foul and really insulted our dignity as women and even as human beings.
People also seem to think that game masters are also coders who develop content for the game and prevent cheats from getting through, network engineers who maintain the physical hardware, and everything else concerning the game service.
mrslash (30liv.es): Yeah, it’s all part of the job, but can you quote any of them specifically?
GM Ayla: I can’t say it… Di ko masabi eh. Alam mo naman hindi ako nagmumura. Tetext ko na lang sayo or send kita ng screenshot ng mga sinulat nila kung makahanap ako.*
mrslash (30liv.es): Okay. It’s ironic for me to say this but I feel that this country tends to have a very immature view on feminism. As a GM, you were expected to act a certain way (i.e., be filrtatious or at least respectful towards your “fanbase,” constantly take vanity shots of yourself.) What are your thoughts on this? Doesn’t it seem unfair or fetishistic of your audience in general to expect this sort of behavior?
GM Ayla: Well I think it can’t be helped since majority of online gamers are boys and a lot of them have yet to mature as individuals. I also think that aside from playing the game itself, players also go for meeting girls so it is effective when a girl GM is placed in front of them. It also some how makes some players behave slightly better in the presence of girls but being a public figure is a big responsibility because slipping up could damage the reputation of the game itself.
I’m personally not bothered by how players see me because I know well enough of my boundaries between my GM personality and my private life. It is flattering to be appreciated by people though. But I think players would engage any female GM put before them especially if they have face value.
mrslash (30liv.es): So you’re saying you have that face value?
GM Ayla: Hahaha! Ikaw nagsabi nyan! But seriously, it’s not that big of a deal and I haven’t really encountered any problems with it outside my job as a GM. Although some random people recognize me and other female GMs on the streets, they just greet me with a “Hi GM Ayla” and ask a bit about Cross Fire. I haven’t encountered anything on the creepy levels all my time as a GM.
mrslash (30liv.es): I see, so what is the dumbest or most ridiculous request you’ve ever gotten from a player?
GM Ayla: I don’t really recall anything but I think the worst thing player(s) have said to me were those things they said when our servers went down during the raid on Gameclub’s raid.
mrslash (30liv.es): Here is another ironic question coming from me: How much feedback did you get to give the developers, and how much of that actually gets implemented?
GM Ayla: Well… you’re actually the one who deals with feedback and suggestions for new content. :P
mrslash (30liv.es): That is true… anyway, Cross Fire was way down the priority list in terms of localizing content. The developers actually makes content that can be re-used in other territories so making extremely localized content is overlooked because content that sells well in the Philippines is not worth it compared to content that sells well in China. We’re really way down the chain in terms of localized content priority.
Moving on. What do you feel about GMs who overstep their boundaries and “abuse their power,” so to speak? We’ve all heard tales of sexual trade and barter for virtual items across many of these games. Have you run into a situation where you’ve leveraged your status as a GM yourself?
GM Ayla: Personally, I have never considered using my GM status to make a quick buck. More than anything else, I do value my reputation and integrity in the work place and as a person. But I have seen it happen around me like one of the GMs in Gameclub who used free eCoins to buy items for an RPG game to sell for real money and that other GM who did RMT in order to get money for his wedding. I did however, use my “fame” as a GM for a contest for a model search by posting on my GM Facebook page to ask for votes.
mrslash (30liv.es): Yes, I remember letting that one slide. Did you win the contest you promoted on your fan page?
GM Ayla: No but at least I got a few thousand votes instead of a small number of votes like what happens to new comers like myself in those kinds of contests.
mrslash (30liv.es): Anyway, with everything said and done, was being a GM a good career choice for you? What do you do now and how has being a GM helped in putting you in the position/career path that you are on right now?
GM Ayla: This being my first job taught me quite a few things about work ethics and dealing with people in public. Having to constantly talk with strangers helped me boost my self confidence in dealing with clients in my current job now. I’m working in the hotel and restaurant industry as a banquet sales account manager. I cater to weddings, debuts, and similar events so I have to deal with a lot of people. Having felt the full force of irate and unreasonable customers certainly helped mold my self confidence in being capable of dealing with almost any situation as far as customer relations is concerned. I also gained the confidence to actually host events such as weddings having started hosting tournaments working as a GM.
mrslash (30liv.es): What do you think your mark or legacy is with Gameclub?
GM Ayla: I don’t want to brag, but I think I’ve been on of those game masters who were able to separate my personal life from my GM personality. I didn’t get personally involved with gamers I came to know through my job unlike other GMs who let their benefits (of free items and free cash) trickle down to their friends and even some people they came to know from being a GM*. I also suppose the fact that my GM Facebook page is still earning likes and still receives complaints from players regarding lag, or cheats up to now in spite of being inactive for over a year goes to show that I was actually helpful and trusted by players.
*No specific names were given.
GM Ayla is hoping to find a career in her true passion which is in the performing arts. Dancing specifically.
GM Ayla’s fan page has been receiving more likes even if it was inactive since January 2012 from 29k likes to 40k likes. Check it out here.
Like all Game Masters, there are a ton of fake game master accounts for GM Ayla and some people totally get scammed by giving those fake GM accounts their user names and passwords.
*GM Ayla said she would text me or send me a screenshot of the explicit things players have said to her because she couldn’t say those words verbally but sadly, she didn’t.
The author of this post can attest to the fact that GM Ayla does not use profanity. However, she has slipped up at least once while getting fragged in Cross Fire. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, competitive video games brings out the profanity in you because they are that engaging.
We will be abusing GM Ayla’s fame one more time by having her promote 30liv.es on her fan page.
None of the female game masters in my team were gamers to begin with. They didn’t know how to play but a few months into the job, they became pretty good at their respective games.