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Interview with Mr. Awesome, aka Chris Cummings of Gamesville!

You read the title right! I actually got an interview with Gamesville's man of the house, Chris Cummings!


 I’ll come back later, when you’re not all tied up.

You might have seen him post on the Gamesville blog a time or two. (Or twenty.) Well, he graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down for an interview! Check it out!

Mira: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I have oodles of questions, so let’s get right to it! What is your job title and what does that translate to in English?

Chris: My official title is Director of Product Management for Lycos, Inc. My specialty is online games, so I focus on Lycos' gaming websites which include Gamesville.com, Lycos Games, and private label game suites.

Mira: So, what's a normal day like for you at Gamesville?

Chris: My day begins with a review of the previous day's key business metrics (like, how many games were played, how many advertisements did we show, how many people signed up for our premium services, etc.). The numbers only tell half the story, so from there it's talking with customer service, checking the Gamesville Blog for member comments, and meeting with our community manager to see what he has up his sleeve to entertain members that day. The rest of my workday is generally spent in meetings, interacting with customers and partners, and reviewing the status of the new games we're working on.

Mira: Yowsa. o_O Sounds like a lot! What's the most frustrating aspect of your job?

Chris: Without a doubt, the most frustrating aspect of my job is when servers go down! It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's like a disturbance in the Force that ripples through our bones. I know that many people rely on us to be there for them, and it physically hurts when we let them down.

Mira: I see what people post when GV goes down. You have more compassion for them than I do. *^_^* Let’s flip the coin. What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Chris: Creating games that people like -- which is not an easy task! I also very much enjoy being part of a team of game-makers who really cares about our products and about the people who play on our site.

Mira: Speaking of games, what's your favorite Gamesville game? What do you like about it?

Chris: My favorite Gamesville game is still in production -- so it's too early to talk about it yet! But I personally enjoy our 21 games because of their fast pace, and I think we have the best free online bingo games anywhere. Our next bingo games are going to really knock people's socks off because they're so different from anything we've done before and so different from anything currently available...

Mira: We’re all eagerly awaiting the new game! And I must agree, you guys really do have the best online bingo. But let’s venture beyond Gamesville. What's your favorite non-Gamesville game?

Chris: My favorite games are the ones I grew up on: Castlevania, Super Mario Bros., and Metroid. More recently, I've been obsessed with Canabalt and Plants Vs. Zombies.

Mira: My favorite Super Mario game is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I’m TERRIBLE at the normal Mario games. *^_^* Anywho, I noticed that your Gamesville name is chriscummings101. At first I thought maybe there was a "chriscummings" on GV and you added the 101 to be different, but no dice. So! What does the 101 stand for?

Chris: I love a good palindromic prime number.

Mira: ¬.¬ Alright, smarty pants. Will the Gamesville filter ever accept your name?

Chris: What do you mean? You can say "Chris" in there just fine :)

Mira: Touché. You win this round. ^_^ Now you've mentioned in the GV Blog that you all are trying a new marketing venture AND there are rumors of a commercial coming out. Bravo on that! But inquiring minds want to know, why did you wait so long to launch a big marketing campaign?

Chris: Honestly, I felt we had to prove to the rest of Lycos that we were worth the effort. Over the last couple years, we've been rebuilding Gamesville, turning it from an unprofitable venture with an unclear destiny to a profitable business with compelling games and prizes, an active and thriving community, and a customer focus that's second to none in our space. We've built the car, now we're filling it up with gas!

Mira: I’m curious. Do you ever visit "competitors" sites to see how they do things?

Chris: I try to encourage everyone on my team to take a broad view of the market -- which means looking at the competition, and also looking at things that might not be direct competitors but are also vying for people's time. In my view, the current battle isn't against the Big Gaming sites any more; it's about a world with millions of potential ways to spend your time and finding compelling reasons for people to spend some of their precious time with us.

Mira: I'm sure that not every day at Gamesville HQ is all sunshine and rainbows. What keeps you motivated when the storms roll in?

Chris: The main thing that keeps us motivated is our mission: When you get down to it, the reason that Gamesville exists is because we believe that everyone deserves a helping hand.

The way we help is by 1) offering fun games with prizes; 2) providing a special place for extraordinary people to create community, make friends, and offer each other support and smiles; and 3) creating a rich, immersive environment for sponsors to communicate with an audience that cares about the products and services being presented.

We know from personal experience that Gamesville can make a difference in people’s lives: Some of our jackpots have helped finance weddings, mortgages, school loans, braces, and vacations, while some of the $2 prizes have made the difference between kids getting hot lunch at school that Friday or taking peanut butter and jelly again.

Even more touching are some of the stories from people who have told us about the great friends they've made at Gamesville -- about the stories they've shared, the personal struggles they've helped each other with, and the good times they've had and continue to have as their circle of GV friends continues to grow!

Knowing that we help make a difference helps keep us motivated when things don't go according to plan.

Mira: That’s awesome. ^_^ One of my favorite parts about Gamesville is that you clearly work to build connections with your customers. Not every company does that, but it’s important!

Let’s wind this up with a few questions on the lighter side. Starting with,  what’s stocked in the GV fridge? (I hope you guys have *at least* a mini-fridge.)

Chris: The mini-fridge is jam-packed with Mountain Dew Throwback.

Mira: I’m a Dr. Pepper gal m’self. Anywho, will Gamesville ever have daily scratchcards? (I ♥ scratchcards!)

Chris: We do have an instant win game as part of our GV Gold program, but no plans for scratchcards at the moment. Keno, on the other hand...

Mira: But… but… scratchcards!! *Sighs* Fine then. :P What's the last book you read?

Chris: The last book I read was "What Got You Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith. I'm currently re-reading "Leslie Nielsen: The Naked Truth" by Leslie Nielsen and David Fisher; it's even funnier than I remembered!

Mira: I’ll have to check out “The Naked Truth.” Sounds amusing. ^_^ Do you have any hobbies that would surprise Gamesvillians? Such as collecting those sticky things that walk down walls. (Why do kids love those so much?)

Chris: I'd be willing to wager that I have the largest collection of toy Daleks of any person currently playing on Gamesville or working at Gamesville. (And the little aliens inside actually bear a passing resemblance to those wacky wallcrawlers.)

Mira: Gah! I keep forgetting to watch Doctor Who. *Facepalm* Well, for our last question, do you have a nickname around the office?

Chris: None that I'm aware of!

Mira: Well, that’s all. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. ^_^

If you’d like to learn more about the always-awesome Chris Cummings, you should check out his blog, Product Management Meets Pop Culture.

Now, just between me and you, I think we should take his last answer as a challenge. ^_~ What nickname do you think he should have? And if he’s kind enough to bless us with another interview, what would you ask him?


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