How do you grow an organic gaming career from a hobby to a full-time business?
Clara Sia is a Canadian born Chinese toy professional who loves food, rabbits and independent games. Sia is also a hobby for indie games and is currently known for her bright pink hair. Clara Sia spoke with Forbes about her growing career and path in gaming.
Goldie Chan: Hello Clara. Thank you for joining us here. What is your career path in gaming?
Clara Sia: I started filling out my resume to move into the gaming industry before I even realized it. Besides being a lifelong player, I started streaming video games in 2014 and built a network within the content creator space, and thus the industry. I later discovered indie games (no, I didn’t even know it existed before that) and started connecting with the local development scene in Vancouver, learning that it was – and still is – a thriving indie gaming hotspot.
I gave my first talk on influencer influencers for developers from around the world at the Indie Summit and started building relationships between contacts in my spare time. In 2015, I founded the first community meeting on Twitch, where content creators, game developers, and fans can connect. This group is on hiatus now, due to the pandemic, but our events have grown to 500 participants and were last held at Vancouver Film School. He’s been instrumental in helping create the official global meetup program for Twitch. I’ve had personal contacts with game developers at conferences and given advice on how to get creators’ attention to their projects. At such a gaming conference, I was offered a job at a video game PR agency to manage influencer relationships. Devolver Digital has been one of my many clients, and now I work with them internally, managing influencer strategy while maintaining relationships with a wide range of content creators. The many times I applied to work at EB Games I intentionally quit and didn’t even get an interview.
chan: What is your favorite project that you worked on?
Sia: Most people assume that fall guysBut I didn’t sleep in the months that surrounded its release. Lots of valuable lessons learned of course! Currently my favorite project is probably our latest major release, Pregnancy worship. I helped test it out from the early stages after setup and was given the freedom to pursue some dream apps – in particular, the Twitch extension integration, which took live audience engagement to the next level.
The developers were very happy to work with them (in fact, I worked with them in the past on two previous projects) and the reception was very positive in all aspects. I’ve been trusted to strategically allocate Early Access with key influencers to build visibility and excitement, as well as preview audience integration features. By the time the game reaches its maximum, the average viewership of each channel while playing is Pregnancy worship It was over 200% in positivity, which made the game useful for live streaming. Of course, the best part of it all was finally getting my constant requests for a plushie made for launch. (The first wave sold out in 3 minutes).
chan: How would you describe your personal brand?
Sia: As an informal professional marketer. As a creative and social presence, he grows awkwardly, constantly learning. I obscure and transcend in equal measure. I’m a natural pessimist, but I love to celebrate others. I got my place, but I know it was a huge help. I swear a lot but with love. All this to say, most people would probably think I’m the crazy bunny lady who eats too much.
chan: What are you currently working on?
Sia: Besides my day job as an influence strategist at Devolver Digital and browsing through hundreds of requests for an assistant, I continue to consult creators and game developers through referral and think about when I’ll be comfortable reviving gaming community meetings. I will also be on the jury in Canada Indie Cup, which is interesting to me because I love reviewing stadiums. I take a weird course related to various industry topics I’m interested in – accessibility in game design, mental health challenges for public figures, cross-campaigns, etc. Add podcasts and panels when time permits. Definitely not working towards my secret dream of starting the next major gaming conference for Canada.
chan: What is your dream project that you would like to work on or a collaborator you would like to partner with?
Sia: I lied. I certainly wish I could create the equivalent of a PAX convention in Vancouver. I have some specific and some broader ideas that I will need guidance on (not to mention cha-ching). This will bring together my huge love of games, Vancouver and all the creators of this amazing industry. I have great relationships with previous event sponsors and would love to take our endeavors to the next level together.
chan: What would you like to see more of in your field?
Sia: Real inclusion, lower performance. Real change, fewer excuses. I want discoverability to be a responsibility on all fronts. I want empowerment news to receive as much light as removal stories. I want ready-made tools for game developers to implement a higher basic level of accessibility in their games. I want people with huge platforms to be bold, step aside, and take sides on issues that matter to them and their audience. I want our largest platforms to have more accountability to users rather than stakeholders. I want user safety to be of paramount importance on these platforms – in fact, not just in blog posts. I want better protection for developers from predatory studios and practices. We are very far away, but we are getting closer year by year.
chan: Any final branding or professional advice for this year for people looking to get more into the gaming business?
Sia: For game developers looking to break into influencers, they have a strong visual identity – it doesn’t have to be “high tech”, it has to be easily recognizable and sticky. It’s the first thing most creators notice when they first communicate and viewers’ first navigation path (via thumbnails). This carries over to your rich social media presence, basic art and logo design, and storefront coding. Hire a Community and Social Media Manager. Develop a plan of sound, tone and content together and start building your community sooner rather than later.
For content creators looking to turn into professional influencers, learn both what you’re selling and what you’re not selling. Who are you and who are you not What content do you create and what is not on your channel? Attracting everyone is tempting, but tedious and often pointless. Boost the audience you want now. You can have an “online persona” that is detached or perhaps an exaggerated version of your everyday self, but make sure it’s sustainable and feels right. Rebranding is always an option, but make sure you are strategic and thoughtful about it. Stick to the tried and true basics of business and entertainment rather than chasing 0.0001% success stories. Networks is not a four letter word. Be upfront about your business intentions, confident, and prepared. Practice being prepared for the opportunity every day. Diversification across platforms. Take improvement lessons.
For anyone else trying to break into the gaming industry, there are more ways than you might think, but it still isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s an ever-changing landscape, so keeping up with trends and delving deeper into the culture will make you hugely ahead. Actually play games. Having good business sense and communication skills will always come in handy. I cannot stress enough the importance of expanding your network as quickly as possible. This is an industry that speaks. Hope to see you at the arena soon.
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