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Community Management: Player Visits
Here at Jagex we’re known to be a pretty quiet bunch. We’ve always worked hard to make great games, and we’ve been happy letting the quality of our games speak for the passion and enthusiasm we put into making them.
Contrary to our previously quiet public persona, we recently opened our doors to a handful of select players from across the globe and in this blog I’m going to detail the visit. We’re also lucky enough to have some eyewitness accounts from some of the guys and gals we invited, which will give you their perspective on the whole thing.
I know what you’re all thinking. It was all a clever PR stunt planned for months in advance, right?
Actually, no. While this certainly won’t hurt our public image, this was really about recognising and rewarding our most dedicated, loyal players. We could have just sent them lifetime membership, but we wanted to do something more than that; we wanted to give them an experience that they’d always remember.
I won’t bore you with the specifics of how difficult it is to plan something like this; but let me just say it was an enormous task (which was thankfully mostly carried out by Mod MMG’s wonderful PA (Personal Assistant), Mod SJ).
So what did we actually do?
After a few manic weeks, we managed to book flights, transfers, accommodation and everything else. It seemed that no sooner had we booked the flights than our guests were swooping into London Heathrow and making their way up to Cambridge. I remember arriving to work on the day they arrived, expecting them to show up at about 11am, but just five minutes after sitting down a rather concerned looking member of staff approached me saying, "Err, dude, you realise there are players outside with suitcases?". Surprised but excited, I jumped out of my seat to greet them all (and, yes, I shook the taxi driver’s hand, mistaking him for a player).
Once everyone had arrived and we had given them a chance to compose themselves (with bacon sandwiches and muffins) we took them all on a tour of the offices.
Excerpt from Water_Is_Nat’s blog:
"There was a fantastic tour inside the Jagex buildings that showed how RuneScape and FunOrb are like behind the scenes! We got to know more about how the game is created, and how much work that it actually requires to make one 'simple' update!
"It was nice to meet the faces at the other side of the screen, the guys&girls that work really hard to make sure that we can enjoy their game and have a good time!"
The tour was quite long; it took over three hours and I’m sure everyone was absolutely shattered by the end. Even so, everybody seemed to really enjoy themselves and were fascinated to learn more about the work that goes on behind the scenes here at Jagex. There was a real buzz around the office and I’m fairly confident most of us were probably as excited (if not more so) as our guests.
The next day was the day of the Jagex Jolly. We thought our visitors would probably appreciate a quiet morning, so we arranged for them to be brought to the Jolly venue halfway through the day. By the time they arrived the party was in full swing and everyone was having a good time eating, drinking and injuring themselves on the dodgem cars (yes, there were dodgems).
Excerpt from RuneHQ:
"A couple of cabs came to pick us up and take us to party with the good people at Jagex. I won't go into detail, but the food was great, the assorted games and rides were awesome, having a chance to talk to people in a more laid back setting was epic, although Mark might be just a little tiny bit competitive."
By the end of the party everybody was pretty shattered. Those with the stamina went on to party in Cambridge, while everybody else went home and crashed out (at least I did).
With the jolly over, the next day saw an opportunity for our guests to head into Cambridge to do the touristy thing. They were accompanied by a few members of staff including Mod MMG.
Excerpt from Water_Is_Nat’s blog:
"Time to chill in Cambridge!
"First thing to do was having lunch with Mmg, Paul M and Calm.
We had a great chat and got to know a lot about the game, and how awesome the future will look like. I can assure you guys, we don’t know that much more than you all do!
"Afterwards, we did some ‘punting’! (It’s pretty much the same as the gondola’s in Venice).
"We had a guided tour in Cambridge on the river Lum, ehhh Cam which was pretty fun!
"After that, we returned to the Jagex offices and set up an ingame event, starting in Varrock, running all the way down to Lumbridge, and then heading west to Falador!"
Excerpt from RuneHQ:
"Saturday a few people from Jagex picked us up and took us to lunch. Mark Gerhard was able to have join us, but then domestic demands came up and he had to leave. After that most of the members of the group went punting with Paul M (look it up ) while a few of us stayed back to go pick up some souveniers and wait for Mod Poppy to show up. Discussion ensued to determine what we wanted to do for our last afternoon together. Did we want to go sightseeing? Maybe bowling or a movie? A bus tour of the city? All great ideas. We went for the best idea though - We went to Jagex and all got on computers and played RuneScape together!"
After the Cambridge tour it was time to say goodbye to our guests and wave them a fond farewell as they left Cambridge to head to their airport hotels in preparation for their early flights home the following morning.
I’m pleased to report everybody arrived home safely, and everybody had a fantastic time. I’ve had loads of people here at Jagex approach me since the jolly and tell me how great it was to meet some of the folks that basically pay our wages. I completely agree - it was a real privilege to hang out with such a great bunch of people.
This was the first time we’d ever opened our doors to any players. Not only was this a huge step for the guys we invited, but it was a huge leap for Jagex as a company. We feel we really connected with our players and, hopefully, showed them that we’re a friendly, passionate bunch of people.
Will we do anything like this again? Yes, it’s likely we will. We understand that there are absolutely tons of players who are dedicated and loyal to RuneScape out there and we don’t want people to feel hard done by because they weren’t invited. There’s nothing to say we won’t do something similar to this again.
We’d love for you to hear more about the visit from the perspective of our guests, and so we’ve created a dedicated thread here for you to read our players’ accounts of the trip and comment on them.
Finally, if you were expecting a blog discussing our competition strategy in more detail, my apologies! We will be writing a blog on competitions shortly, however, we thought in light of the recent player visits, a blog discussing them would probably be a good idea too.
Thanks for reading.