As the Managing Editor of Massively, Shawn Schuster spends his days living a gamer's dream, getting the opportunity to discuss (and play) MMOs (massive multiplayer online games). At Massively, gamers are given a haven of MMO news and daily updates, and Shawn Schuster wants to work to ensure it becomes a one-stop-shop for all things MMO related.
Shawn Schuster talked with us about the trends he sees in gaming and how Massively use trends in their work.
12 Questions with Shawn Schuster
1. How did you get involved with Massively and what motivates you to continue?
Previous to Massively, I ran several fansites and podcasts for Massively Multiplayer Online Games and found that I had a genuine passion for that work. During an open call for writers, I applied and was accepted to the team. When my boss at the time left Massively to work at Sony Online Entertainment, I was asked to take his place as Managing Editor.
My motivation to continue at Massively is driven by my love for the gaming genre. I’ve been a gamer all of my life and it really is a dream to have the opportunity to write about that for a living. I try my best to never lose sight of that or take it for granted.
2. How significant are the topics of cool hunting and trend spotting to Massively?
The latest trend is what we’re all about. We have to stay on top of the very latest and greatest in the MMO world and make sure we can relay it to our readers. Even if we report news that happened two days ago, the readers can tell and they’ll let you know.
3. How do you define a trend?
I define a trend as something ruled by popular opinion. In MMOs, trends change quite often and players get tired of the same routine. Keeping trends fresh is what it’s all about.
4. How do you define cool?
For me personally, I define cool as something I’m interested in researching or just getting my hands on. Whether it’s a new gadget or video game, if something catches my eye, I need to try it out.
5. Do you need a culture of innovation to create something that is cool?
No way. What’s "cool" and the currents trends run in a pretty regular cycle. Do we need innovation to create something cool? No. Do we need innovation to get us out of our habit of reinventing the wheel every 10-20 years? Yes.
6. What is the best way to create an infectious idea, product or service?
Ideas occur randomly, but I find that testing the idea on a handful of friends or colleagues works well. I know I can trust my family to be honest with me, so when I shoot a new idea their way, it’s good to have that honest feedback from someone not grounded and absorbed in the project. Sleeping on it helps too, because I tend to have a different opinion on an idea after a night of rest.
7. What is the key to innovation?
The key to innovation is a fresh perspective and genuine empathy. I believe a person needs to keep a variety of alternatives in mind for any given situation and have the ability to know when to apply those options depending on what people want.
8. What is the most important trend you see in your industry?
Keeping people entertained. With games, it’s easy to lose a player to the next biggest and brightest product coming down the pipe, so game studios are endlessly looking for that magic formula that will keep people subscribed month after month. It’s becoming more and more difficult as the pool of MMOs increases, but a few have succeeded while others try desperately to copy that trend.
Specifically though, I find that breaking away from that monthly subscription model is becoming popular. Games are implementing cash shops where players can buy several small items right in the game instead of paying that flat fee for their game time.
9. What are your ambitions for Massively?
I want Massively to be the one-stop-shop for everything MMO-related. Right now we offer more than just the latest news, as features such as opinion columns, game guides and contest giveaways are keeping our readership high.
10. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
I need absolutely no distractions to let the creative juices flow. That’s next to impossible being the Managing Editor, but most of my innovation now comes in the form of ideas that I can pass along to the rest of the team to write up.
11. Professionally, what do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I would honestly be happy doing what I’m doing right now. Gaining a few more writing credentials could never hurt, but I love what I do now and hope I’m still able to do it (or a version of it) in 10 years from now.
12. What are your most important hobbies?
I’m big on variety and keeping myself busy, so my hobbies vary quite a bit. My most important hobbies probably include vegetable gardening and home improvement. I’m big on environmentalism, so most of my non-work-related time is spent doing what I can for the environment.
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