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TO Insider Series: Meet Semyon Kirov

Tankers! Today’s TO Insider Series interview is one that we’re sure you’ll enjoy. It’s with a person who is very close to the community, in every sense. His name is Semyon Kirov and he is the Lead Community Manager for Tanki Online’s international community.

Famous for the bespectacled avatar he used to have in the forums, and for his intense passion for the community, Semyon will be taking a step into the spotlight and telling us all about how he nurtured his childhood passions and combined them into a profession he loves.

Please introduce yourself. What is your job at Tanki Online?
Hey! My name’s Semyon Kirov and I’m the lead community manager for Tanki Online’s English community. Happy to be here.

How did you get started in the games industry?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved three things: helping people, learning languages, and of course, videogames. By age seven, I knew that languages were my main interest and that they would be a big part of my future.

While studying, playing videogames became my main and only hobby. When I was six, my father gave me a NES as a birthday present, and this is how my journey into the world of games began. Various consoles and upgrades of my gaming PC followed, as well as hundreds of games and thousands of hours spent playing day and night. All of this gave me bad eyesight and a strong reputation as a nerd! :). But I didn’t care what people thought of me; I just loved playing videogames!

As time passed, games became my main passion and, whether I worked as an interpreter, translator or manager, I was only dreaming of one thing — getting to that magical castle in the sky that was The Games Industry. So when people tell you that dreams don’t come true, tell them to sod off, because here I am, doing the one thing I dreamt of when I was a kid!

How did you get started at Tanki Online?
When I finally felt that I was ready to combine my two greatest passions, I actively started to look for job vacancies in the games industry. Tanki Online was my first target because of two things. First off, Tanki Online is based in my hometown, Perm. Second, while working as an English tutor, I was already teaching guys from AlternativaPlatform, and I knew many of them pretty well! I sent in my CV and an application letter, they replied, and I did a test task. Then they called me in for an interview and I got the job!

What makes Tanki Online unique?
Lots of things! Tanki is a real 3D, in-browser game (that was something really special back in 2008). Also, the fact that there’s no difference between players who invest money in the game and those who don’t, is a great thing too. A non-buyer can get exactly the same items as a buyer; he or she just has to spend more time to get them. This is a really good thing because with time comes experience, and skill!

I could keep naming reasons all day, honestly! But as a community manager, I think the one thing that’s bigger than all of the reasons put together, is our community of players. The bond between tankers is really strong and you feel it everywhere around the game. Tanki continues to grow and improve, largely thanks to our players who are always ready to help, provide feedback on every tiny detail and even support us when things get difficult!

What do you think the F2P-market will look like in 5 years?
A tough question as no one can foresee future (would be nice though, wouldn’t it, huh?). I’m not an idealist, but I really believe that the future of games is up to us; and by “us” I don’t mean developers, but all those who love games.

Can you offer any advice to Gamers who want to establish themselves in the games industry?
Of course – simply, love games. Once that love has grown and you feel ready for something bigger, don’t waste your time; start thinking of ways to become a part of it. Look for courses and educational programs in your town or in other cities you can reach. If you are at school, start thinking about how your favorite subject can help you get into the industry. If you love MMOs, get more involved by becoming a volunteer or a moderator. This can be an excellent entry point. And the most important thing is this: always remember, skills can be learned, but passion is a gift. So if you’ve got it, use it!

What is the most important thing in a community manager’s work? What are you enjoying the most?
Our community is now so huge, that unfortunately I can no longer talk to every player. Because of this, the most crucial thing is to make sure we talk to as many players as possible simultaneously. Video blogs have become the perfect tool to communicate with a lot of people at the same time, and I really enjoy putting those together.

Working on our Esports direction is another thing I particularly enjoy. It’s amazing to see casual gamers starting out with Tanki, acquiring skills and growing with the game. As they develop as players, it’s great to watch them enter clans and even start winning real money prizes. When a teenager from a small European town is playing in front of thousands of viewers on Twitch, this is when I get the feeling that our community is thriving.

How much time do you spend working with the members of the community?
Frankly, I try to spend as much time as physically possible. Being a community manager is not like being an artist or a programmer; sometimes I just cannot predict what is going to happen. Emergencies come up, and I’m always on the front line, between developers and players. And honestly, being that middleman, the transmitter, bringing together the people who made the game, with the people who spend time playing and loving it, is the best thing I can think of doing with my time. It gives me energy, a desire to keep delivering, keep helping and keep contributing to everything that makes Tanki Online so great.