Daniela Lao, also known as Gypsyfly, is the Event Staffing Manager for Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers and the PMS H2O Clan (http://www.pmcslan.com/).
1. Why, when and where was your first gaming experience?
My first gaming experience was around the NES. I was about three years or so when I first held the NES controller after watching my brother play Mario Brothers for a few hours. After that I never stopped playing. I started playing PC games in middle school and fell in love with games like Sim City, Doom, Myst, Quake and Unreal Tournament. My first competitive experience was really on Xbox playing multiplayer games like Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Crimson Skies, and Star Wars: Battlefront.
2. What type of gaming experiences do you prefer? They could be anything from classic tabletop, cards, video games, virtual reality or whatever.
I generally prefer video games but love a good Magic: The Gathering throw down. I’ve also been really getting into tabletop games like Werewolves and Fluxx.
3. What led you to decide to get further involved with gaming to the point of working in the industry?
After seeking out a group of like-minded ladies who liked competitive games, I realized that I had a knack for landing partnerships and sponsorships, organizing events, and generally handling community and business development aspects of our clan. We landed bigger sponsorships which led to my first real job in the gaming industry working for the Entertainment Consumers Association as a Chapter Community Manager. Before that I worked freelance for a few gaming websites writing reviews and news. Now I create my own content for my website, YouTube, and starting to stream on Twitch.
4. What type of education do you have and does it help you in your job?
I have a BA major in English and minor in Writing. It helps with certain aspects beyond the typical mechanics of knowing how to prepare press releases or create compelling content that will attract readers or sponsors. My education has given me the chance to land job opportunities usually out of reach for people who don’t have a degree, it’s also given me the ability to see things through a global lens outside of my own little world I had before going to college. Keep in mind, you don’t need a degree to become a success in gaming or to become an entrepreneur. However, going to college is an experience that colors everything else around you in different shades you may never have noticed before and it can only open doors-as long as you don’t put yourself in debt getting there.
5. What is a typical day like at your job? If there is no typical day, what are the general tasks that you must undertake?
Since I don’t have a typical “job”, there is no typical day. Some days I’ll get emails from members letting me know their interest in attending an event and I’ll make sure to have their updated info on file or I’ll get an email from a staffing company or publisher seeing if we have anyone to work an event and I go from there. Since we all hold volunteer roles in PMS Clan, no one makes any money, so we really do everything on our own time depending on our roles. Once a month we’ll meet to discuss progress, events, or issues in our department, but other than that as far as my role it’s pretty low-key. After 10 plus years of sweat, tears, toil, and old-fashioned work doing almost every role in the clan and inventing many of those roles I’m okay not having my hands in every aspect of the clan anymore. It’s great to be able to offer perspective and guidance to newer leaders and members now that I’ve been around so long.
6. What excites you the most about your job?
I’m excited that no matter how much time has passed when I see a PMS H2O Clan member we greet each other like best friends that talked the night before, it’s an inherent connection that never really goes away.
7. What is your proudest accomplishment within the industry?
I’m most proud of all the work I helped accomplish in PMS and how together with other leaders many who are still around and some who are gone, we grew one of the largest female clans in the world and friendliest communities in gaming.
8. Do you still find gaming to be a recreational option? If so, what motivates you to keep on gaming?
For many of my friends who directly work in the industry they ironically find they have less time to play games. Since I currently work for myself creating content, part of what I do requires that I play games, so I find I play more than I did before I worked for other companies. However, I’m mostly a PC gamer until I pick up a PS4 or Xbox One.
9. If it were up to you, what types of gaming and related technologies would you like to see in the future?
I’m most excited about VR and its practical applications in areas outside of gaming like the medical field. Although, the technology is not perfect I’m also really excited for Microsoft’s Hololens after watching the Minecraft demonstration during E3.
10. If someone wanted to look you up on the Internet, where should they start?
My website is a good place: DanielaLao.com. You can also find me on Twitter.com/GypsyflyPMS, Youtube.com/GypsyflyPMS, and Twitch.tv/GypsyflyPMS.
11. If someone wanted to also become part of the industry, be it to do what you do or something else entirely, what advice would you give them?
My entry was pretty unique and you’ll find that’s the case with many people in the gaming industry as it’s such a small community. If you want to be a developer, producer, or programmer that will definitely require schooling. If you have dedication and perseverance, you can teach yourself many skills and learn to develop your own indie game. If you want to enter community or PR, it definitely helps to have a degree and a big presence on various gaming websites, social media, and basically create a network and name for yourself as someone who can be trusted. If you want to write for games it helps to actually have written something of value like a novel or script that you can shop around in order to establish your name, having an online presence also helps in this case as well.
No matter what job you want in the industry I reiterate that this is still a small industry and it’s important not to burn bridges with anyone. It may be frustrating when a contact doesn’t respond right away or you have bad experience with someone at an event or industry gathering but make it a point not to be rude, pushy, or aggressive. What you email or post on Twitter has a nasty way of coming back to haunt if you decide to apply for a job at a developer. The contact you were rude to may one day be responsible for hiring you for a position you want. You may not remember them but they will remember you. A good habit to pick up is sending out thank you emails to those who you interview with for a job, not being pushy with contacts (give them your business card and leave them with a good first impression). Do good things like participate in charities like Extra Life or St. Jude Live, or spread the word about good news in the gaming industry. Basically, treat people with kindness and respect, work hard for what you want, and focus on that goal. It’s easy in this industry to be a jack of all trades and a master of none, try to be really good at one thing and run with it.