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The Community Club

AMA with Gene Chorba

Cole
Building communites and partying in the club 💃🌐🕺
with Gene Chorba ・1 min read

We've said before that developer communities are unique in their needs and structure when it comes to managing their online community spaces. The same could also be applied to gaming communities. Gene Chorba is the Senior Developer Relations at Riot Games, working at the intersection of the developer and gaming space. Gene has launched three games at Riot and leads a community of tens of thousands of developers that utilize Riot's API to build extraordinary tools around their games.

Join us at 3PM EST on January 21st as Gene answers any and all of your questions about building a developer community, growing the ecosystem at Riot, the gaming industry, measuring success, and anything else community-related.

The AMA will happen in this post, so feel free to start posting questions now!

Discussion (19)

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alex profile image
Alex Angel

Thanks for doing this AMA, Gene! I also have two questions for you:

  • What was something unexpected that you had to contend in your role?
  • What did your career path look like? How did you end up in devrel?
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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything
  • The amount of business development, investing, and building a company knowledge I would need. We have a lot of developers over the last few years who made the choice to stop working the Riot API as a hobby and turn it into a business. So being able to advise, guide, and help them has been a huge learning experience.
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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

My career path is pretty weird. It's a long story but I basically went from Computer Camp Director -> Statistical Analyst -> Technical Marketing -> Engineer -> Developer Relations

About 8 years ago I was introduced to developer relations as an industry through hackathons, conferences, etc.. I was then given the opportunity to work as an engineer on a devrel team at a startup. From there I fell in love with the work and the rest is history!

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kgillum profile image
Katelyn Gillum

Thanks for doing this AMA, Gene!

I hate to bring up the obvious, but I've been watching and observing the explosion that's been happening in the gaming space throughout the pandemic.

Two questions related to that:

  1. Based on your experience, what other types of innovation should we expect to see from the gaming industry in a post-Covid world?

  2. What excites you the most about what we've seen so far (as a result of Covid) and what's to come?

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

Thank for the questions.

2020 was the biggest year I have ever seen for games. Everyone staying at home broke a wall and made gaming way more accepted in every facet of society. A large question for the industry is was this a one-time thing? or will this continue past covid?

As for trends, I expect to see way more social games within the next 12-24 months. People will build and release products that allow you to be with your friends in a virtual environment. Things like Fall Guys, Among Us, and many more have started a trend I expect to continue.

One of the coolest things to come out of Covid has been the further democratization of tools, talent, and games, and general. We are nowhere close to being good at it, but we are seeing talented games now being made from all over the world. I have been incredibly happy to watch the influence of non-traditional game makers grow over this time.

Lastly, the thing I am most excited about is that my parents now play and understand games.

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mac profile image
Mac

Appreciate you doing this AMA Gene! You have one of the cooler and more unique roles in the community space.

I have two questions for you:

1 - What are the biggest differences between general developer relations, and developer relations in the gaming space? Or are there really no differences besides the content and topic types.

2 - What's the coolest thing a developer has built using the Riot API?

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

On the first question, one of the major differences are how do you acquire developers. With traditional tech developer relations, you are going out and speaking, writing content, etc.. all in order to attract new developers to your platform.
With gaming and the entertainment industry devrel you don't have to do a lot of that. We have to put systems in place to keep people out a lot of the time.

This is further shown in how we are motivated as devrel programs. Our motivations are to protect the game design, engage players at a higher level, and make sure there is a thriving ecosystem of tools around our games. Making money is not the focus of our program.

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything • Edited

Can't pick one, so here are 2.

  • App that is tied into your match history and writes Haikus/Poems based on the events in-game.

  • Nerf gun hooked into the game, so every time you die in-game it shoots you

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jocelynhsu profile image
Jocelyn

Hi Gene, welcome to Community Club and thanks for doing this! I don't play League, but I have to say that I'm a big fan of the soundtracks and music videos. They're so well done!

How does Riot Games approach gamification? What leverages or incentives do you think motivate players the most? What about developers? Do you find that it's different between the two groups, or is there an overlap?

What do you think the community world can learn from the gaming world?

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

Hey! Honestly the music and videos are what got me into the game.

It's all about fun and player value. Every decision at the company goes down to the decision tree of what provides more value to players.

We try to build as many things as possible that we would use ourselves, and be willing to rapidly change if it turns out it is not fun.

Something I love that Riot does is that every employee is encouraged to go out and talk and engage with the community and talk about their job. So we basically get 3000+ people who are constantly our there talking and playing with players.

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cole profile image
Cole Ask Me Anything

Hey Gene! Really appreciate you taking the time for this AMA session. I have a few questions for you!

1 - First of all, congratulations on over three years at Riot Games! Would love to hear what initially sparked your interest in joining Riot; have you always been interested in the gaming industry? What excites you about the future of the ecosystem you've built out?

2 - As you made the transition from full time engineer to Developer Relations, were there any challenges you faced? Do you have tips for engineers looking to get more involved in the community industry?

Thank you again!

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything
  • I have always been interested in the gaming industry, but never thought I would end up here. When I was a child i remember watching a PBS documentary of a game studio and thinking that was the coolest place to work I had ever seen. However nowhere I lived was ever a hotbed for gaming or development, so I never pursued it as a job. I basically had a full career path before ever making the switch to gaming when Riot approached me. Now that I am in the industry, it will be very hard for me to ever leave. The creativity, talent and riding the bleeding edge of technology and culture is a heck of a kool-aid. We are only getting started in the gaming industry and so I look forward to the next 5-10 years and the lightspeed jumps ahead we are going to see.

  • The two biggest challenges for me where not coding everyday, and becoming a better writer. As a developer relations professional good writing is absolutely the most important part of the job. Blog posts, policies, books, docs, support, pitch decks, etc.. I swear that 75% of my job is just writing things.

  • My biggest tip to engineers who want to be involved is just start getting involved. Be there to answer questions of all times, contribute to the discussions, and start writing about why you make certain decisions. Most companies these days have a tech blog, and the team who runs that will love it if you volunteer to write a post.

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mmohammed profile image
Mohamed

Hi, Gene! Thank you for doing this AMA. This may be a silly question, but I’ve always wondered: is working as a developer an unavoidable prerequisite to working in Developer Relations?

Thanks!

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

This is an ongoing question in the developer relations industry and it really has not been answered yet. There are tons of companies with DevRel folks with non-developer backgrounds, and there are companies that require heavy engineering backgrounds.

My personal opinion is that you do not have to be a developer to work in developer relations. You do however need to be able to take very complex technical concepts and translate them in a way a more non-technical audience can understand it.

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mmohammed profile image
Mohamed

Fascinating. I suppose it's in line with a lot of other community-centric roles in that we're still sort of trying to figure it all out. Thanks, Gene!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

What is the relationship between community and knowledgebase... What is the value of more ephemeral discussion vs longterm searchable?

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

Ben with the questions that keep me up at night.

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gchorba profile image
Gene Chorba Ask Me Anything

I've always been a big believer in the community is a bigger better knowledgebase.

If we can continue to have ephemeral discussions with our community non-stop, we create super users in our community who know the answers to every question, where to find specific information and become cultural leaders for the future.

This allows the community take on a life of its own and become something way more powerful.

The negative to this type of approach is it takes much more effort from a prospective member to gather information without interacting with someone. Which is a potential blocker for a lot of folks.

So one of my big goals for this year is to figure out how do we take ephemeral conversations and turn them into something is easily findable, quick to use, and require the least of amount of interaction.

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anthemaker profile image
An

Thank you for doing this AMA!
I'm An, a 18yo developer from Germany. I graduated highschool in 2020 and I'm currently developing SpaceHey.com, a retro social network. SpaceHey reached 50k useres today, which is pretty crazy! Now on to my questions for you:

  • Where is the best place to learn about community building/what are the main tips to keep in mind when growing a Community like SpaceHey?
  • What is the best way to find a sponsor/advertiser for such a Community? I don't have many connections and fail to find a sponsor currently.
  • What are ways for young, self-thought developers like me to get their foot into the professional field of coding?

Thank you very much for your time & for doing this AMA!

An