As the giant web of social media continues to grow and grow, and as video game fans continue to cluster online in order to complain about (or sometimes compliment) some of the biggest games out there, gaming companies are learning that they need to have a presence online in order to interact with these people. They need somebody who can go online, listen to the fanbase, and communicate with it.

Gone are the days of faceless companies putting out games and not responding to any feedback, other than perhaps a recognition in the preview of a sequel that "we received a lot of feedback on [previous game] and are incorporating some of that into this one."

Instead, game companies want to be out there with the masses; quick responses can sometimes put out fires before they become too big, and having a presence out there in the digital wilds can also help foster an even bigger fanbase.

I first became aware of this when Dan Americh left Official Xbox Magazine to become Activision's community manager. Evidently, he wasn't the first games journalist to make this move, as I just discovered today that Luke Smith was the editor 1UP's web site before becoming Bungie's community manager. There are probably others as well before that.

But now it's really becoming a trend.

Just in the last few months, Game Informer has lost two staff members to this community manager lure, with Annette moving to Harmonix and Meagan to Crystal Dynamics. Abbie Heppe, formerly of G4 television, is now community manager for Respawn Entertainment.  It seems that game companies are plucking journalists right and left to become their community managers.

Why do companies think that games journalists will make such great community managers? Is it because they're already out there, dealing with the public, talking about games, for their own publications?

And how do they go about finding the perfect match?

I know Meagan was a big fan of the last Tomb Raider game (Guardian of Light) and talked up the game on the podcast and gave it a good review. She really seems to love Tomb Raider, or at least that's the impression I've always received when she's commented on it.

She also handled the preview of the game, so she went and talked to them about it. Did Crystal Dynamics see what she'd written, how much of a fan she was, that Meagan was already prominent in the games journalism world, and the fact that they enjoyed talking to her when she was there, and decide "hey, let's get her for our community manager?"

(It may have been an open "we need a community manager" job posting that Meagan simply applied to, I don't know)

I also know that Annette was a big fan of Dance Central, so did Harmonix see that and do likewise?

Please note, I'm not alleging anything bad. I'm stating that maybe the companies saw something they liked in what these journalists had written in the past and decided that this was something they wanted as part of their company. Nothing more.

Do you see this as a growing trend, with more and more journalists moving from one side of the fence to the other? And what do you think of this kind of thing?

In reading up on Luke Smith, I know some people thought he was "selling out" when he made the move to Bungie. Amrich has mentioned in the past that he's been accused of the same thing. I haven't heard anything like that from Meagan and Annette, but that doesn't mean anything. I could have easily missed it.

Do you agree? Personally, I don't. I think it's a great move for the people involved, and it's smart of the companies to do this kind of thing. It's worked wonders for Activision, and I think it will for Harmonix and Crystal Dynamics as well. They've got some great people.

I doubt Meagan and Annette will ever read this, but if you do, know that you'll be missed.

(Thanks to Sodahead)

Note: It looks like Annette's read it! I'm glad to see that. She's been such a great part of this community, so I truly thank her for what she's done. (see comments below)