15 April 2014

A few weeks ago, Meagan Marie announced that she would be leaving Crystal Dynamics and will be moving to Ireland to join the team at Riot Games. Since that day I've been trying to figure out just what to say in this article. Each time I sat down to write, the blinking cursor would remain in a solitary position, waiting for the words. Every introduction felt cheesy or bland or generic.

Her departure from Crystal leaves me with mixed emotions. In a way, I'm happy that she's embracing new challenges and pursuing adventure. Yet, there's an undeniable sadness that comes with every Facebook update or Twitter message from her.
Initial Introduction
Meagan entered Crystal Dynamics at a time when the company was introducing the idea of a complete reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. A lot of gamers were initially taken back by the new direction with many doubting that the concept would even work. Even from the start, her job was by no means easy.

One of the first things she did was to set up additional social media websites, including Flickr and Tumblr. Regularly updated albums gave a first hand perspective of gaming events and studio life. The Tumblr page developed into the ultimate resource for Tomb Raider fans with daily postings ranging from fan projects to official announcements, podcasts and on-tour reports. She also formed the Fansite Directory and contacted a number of website owners to personally introduce herself and present each site with an official fansite badge aswell as a place on the Tomb Raider blog. In 2011, Meagan also contacted a number of artists for special artwork commemorating Lara's 15th Anniversary.

An Industry Icon
As the months went on, the projects she created flourished. The Tomb Raider Blog not only delivered fresh content but also gave the spotlight to individual fans and projects. One of my favourite features, The Crystal Habit Podcast, allowed gamers to obtain a behind the scenes glimpse at Crystal as well as uncover new secrets about the upcoming game. In recent recordings she encouraged and gave advice to fans who wanted to get into the video game industry, by conducting interviews with many employees at the studio.

Recording the podcast at E3 2011. Photo from Crystal Dynamics' Flickr.
While the community events became more frequent nearer to Tomb Raider's release date, Meagan also arranged several meetings just months after taking the role and travelled around the world to meet and form closer relationships with those she spoke to online. She treated fans like the gaming press by showing them exclusive previews and demos ahead of the release date and encourage discussion.

She has not only been a fantastic Community Manager but an incredible icon in the video game industry. Last March she posted an article called "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" Inspired by Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, which challenges the reader by posing the question in the first chapter. Meagan's answer? "I'd write this blog". Her article describes her encounters with sexism in the video game industry, especially at events. It's not the most comfortable thing to read, but it is important.

My Most Memorable Time
During the Eurogamer Expo in 2012, Meagan arranged a community event at Square Enix Europe on the second day. The group was much bigger than before and while everyone was a little reluctant to speak at first, that shyness eased off during the night. After a Tomb Raider gameplay preview and a mini Q&A, we travelled across Wimbledon for a group meal. Just before ordering dessert, one of the waiters came over and announced that we had to leave. Being at the far end of the table and unaware of what was said, I was a little confused about why everyone was suddenly leaving, but I've played enough zombie  games to know to stay with your group. 

Photograph by Survivor Reborn

We retraced our steps back to Square Enix Europe and decided that, since the night was still young...ish, we should head into a nearby Tescos and buy vast amounts of assorted ice cream and wine. The cashier gave us strange looks as she scanned probably the eighth tub of ice cream, Meagan more than most as she was paying. Minutes later we were back at Eidos and curled up in chairs in the press section. We played the demo while eating ice cream and catching up. It was such an incredible night!

Closing Words
...And Meagan

Thank you so much for everything you have done for the community. I will genuinely miss you, but I know you will rock it there at Riot. It's an amazing new stage in your life and I hope that you will enjoy every minute of it. I also hope to hear more of your exciting adventures whether they are community days, cosplay days or world domination.

You wrote an article last year on Tumblr called "Dear Lara, Thanks for Everything" which detailed your journey becoming the Tomb Raider Community Manager and the months leading up to the game's launch. I had A LOT of difficulty writing this article, but I kept on thinking back to that post.  As you wrote an article about your role model, I thought I would write a similar article about mine...


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