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Looking Back: An Interview With Jessica Merizan

Posted by GeekieDave Monday March 25 2013 at 12:29PM
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So as a journalist, We see many new and old faces as we trek our way through the vast and wide open world of journalisim. I've always been one to do things different and wanted to just get my foot in the door and while digging up some of my past, I found an article I did back in the beginning of Feburary with one of the community manager of what was then the upcoming release of Mass Effect 3, Jessica Merizan.

Before I share this with you, Let me point out a couple of things: I was brand new to the world of journalism. I didn't really know what I was doing until after I did it. Secondly, This was WAY before the game's actual release so the ending was still unknown. And lastly, I have improved so much since this article, I honestly have been working since this to improve my craft and hone in the skills I need to be a better journalist. Enjoy!

1. Since the word began of a Mass Effect 3 demo, how did you guys react when you found out so many people were eager to play?

While everyone knew the game was popular and the stakes were high, the development team is incredibly humble, so they still feel surprise and delight to hear about how much this game affects millions of people. I’ve been the community manager here for a little over six months (though I’ve been doing contract work with BioWare since early last year) and I don’t really consider myself “on the inside” yet. Feels like I’m another fan who happens to get a sneak peek at things, and I know acutely how important the series is to many people. Mass Effect is more than just games—it’s part of our popular culture now. It defines the way we think about sci-fi, video games, and storytelling.

2. Multiplayer is a new feature in Mass Effect, what are your hopes on how the community will react?

Some people have expressed skepticism at the implementation of the multiplayer component, and I hope that with the free demo available now, those people will at least give it a try. Fans that I’ve spoken to are enjoying the component much more than they thought they would, and it’s a testament to the level of quality that the Mass Effect developers demand from themselves. I hope people see the thought that was put into it and understand that this was a feature designed to appeal to our core gamer, not some demographic we’re hoping to capture. People who enjoy our games are the number one priority, and I think they’ll be pleased. Unfortunately, my Xbox friend list is at capacity, but I always accept invites to play. My Gamertag and Origin ID are both “JesstifiedKill” – no one can say they don’t know anyone to play with now!

3. What has it been like for you guys since Mass Effect 3 began in production?

When I joined the team, most developers were in crunch full swing. Obviously, the development cycle has been going on for longer than that, and this has been a work of pride that many have been creating for years now. It’s incredibly inspiring to work on a team with such dedicated people. The marketing department has been crunching for the past month (and we’ll continue until after launch), and I don’t think I would have been able to cope with the long hours had I not watched other departments go through it in the past few months. Not only were they crunching, but they were thriving. I might be cranky about having less free time or not enough sleep, but ultimately I’m so excited about what I’m working on. I think I can speak for a lot of BioWare employees when I say that it is hugely motivating to work with creative people on a truly great product.

4. As the community grows in the gaming world, do you hope Mass Effect will have an impact on our lives?

I do! That’s probably one of my biggest hopes in my current role. People tend to feel a little suspicious of outsiders and new people, so I can understand the concern about our potentially growing community; but the more people that enjoy and talk about Mass Effect, the bigger and more relevant this franchise has the potential to become. My friends and family know a lot about the game even if they’ve never played. It’s really satisfying to show the latest trailer to my mom and have a discussion with her about Shepard’s motivations and what it might take to defeat the Reapers. And with all the cool products that are being created (comics, books, action figures, apparel), Mass Effect really has moved beyond being a video game. Maybe with the implementation of different experience modes, my mom can play on “story” and experience the game for herself. Just as long as she doesn’t romance anyone that meets my disapproval ;)

5. Lastly, from the community itself, will we see any DLC coming for Mass Effect 3?

Absolutely. I can’t go into details, but expect some great content and additional gear to round out your Mass Effect 3 experience. I must also mention that we take consumer feedback very seriously, and I will personally be spending a great deal of time collecting fan opinions to deliver to the development team. If there’s a feature that isn’t in the game and you want to see it, speak up! Ask for it! Tell us what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right. For us, our community is the people who engage with us on the forums and social media—so make sure your voice is heard. My biggest concern in my job is building a positive and vocal community. So yes: stay tuned for more exciting developments in the Mass Effect Universe!