但她当初为何不选择与游戏有关的专业呢？这完全是因为游戏行业在当时并不是很受欢迎——所以尽管身为《模拟人生》、《文明IV》等游戏的粉丝，但Taleen Alexander从没想过自己会成为游戏领域的一员。以下是游戏邦编译的Taleen Alexander最近相关访谈内容：
《It Girl》是一款女性游戏，里面有很多时尚元素。而许多传统游戏用来吸引女性用户的元素，则更显得盛气凌人……我认为如果开发者没有亲身体验游戏，《It Girl》之类的游戏很快就会充满这种高傲的气势。
Interview: CrowdStar’s Taleen Alexander
Social gaming — primarily on Facebook in English speaking countries — has opened up the industry to new audiences with entirely new types of games. In this interview, CrowdStar content manager Taleen Alexander explains how she got into the game industry — though a big fan of games, it never occurred to her until a chance meeting at a party. Instead, she had pursued a law degree thanks to her love of writing.
Why was this? It’s thanks to the unwelcoming atmosphere of the industry — it never occurred to her, despite being a fan of games like The Sims and Civilization IV that there was a place for her to contribute. She also discusses how the team makes decisions about how to develop the audience-reactive social title — which has a primarily female audience.
Was your background in…
Taleen Alexander: Gaming? No. Actually, I went to law school, and I graduated from law school as well, but halfway through, I started up as a contractor here.
So, that was my first [exposure]… And there were like five people here basically half the time, which was so crazy for me. I’ve seen it grow to this. [CrowdStar is now around 100 full time employees.] And then I became full time in April of 2010. During finals season at school. [laughs]
Wow, so you just sort of came really straight from school.
You started before you even left school.
TA: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
So, did you get your J.D.?
TA: I did! I have it on my wall. It’s completely useless. [laughs] I’m not going to take the bar.
I don’t think you seem particularly disappointed.
TA: No. I think I made the right choice. I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am. [laughs]
So, how did you get interested then and get involved in the industry if that was not what your original direction was?
TA: I mean, I’ve always really enjoyed playing games, especially computer games, since I was three. I remember playing games in only, what was it, green and red. So, I’ve been playing them for a while, and I just happened to luck into this actually.
[Chairman] Peter Relan was at a housewarming party where I was, and I write a lot as well, so he needed a writer. And so I joined as that position, and I just did kind of a lot of hodge podge things. But, you know, I’ve played many, many games in my time, mostly PCs, some console, especially Nintendo games. I’ve been a Nintendo person. Nintendo loyalty.
I find this interesting, because of course the casual social audience is primarily women, and you see a lot of men trying to make games for women.
It seems like that isn’t going to work, you know?
TA: You definitely need a mix, I would say. Especially for games like It Girl, the one I’m on, I mean, it is a hundred percent geared towards women. There are no male characters. If you’re a man playing it, you have to be a woman in the game basically. So, it doesn’t quite work without a female perspective, I think. Both is good, though.
It Girl is a girly game. It’s about fashion stuff. You find that a lot of the stuff the traditional gaming industry has done to appeal to female audiences has been more patronizing… I think something like It Girl could get really patronizing really fast if people handling it weren’t plugged into that.
TA: Right. Yeah, I see what you mean. Let me think. Yeah, it could be… If someone who doesn’t understand, you know [laughs], the joy of shopping, for example, or having your girlfriends around, your “clique” as they say in our game, I don’t know, it might come off as sarcastic, but I don’t think it does in It Girl.
With these games being so community-driven and so plugged into the social aspect, I mean, you have to have a respect for your audience, which I think a game like this could again… There are opportunities to misstep there, I would say.
TA: Right. It also… So, I’m content manager, but I also used to do a lot of community, so I interacted with the users a lot for a while, for about a year in other games. So, I know who they are. I understand where they’re coming from when they want certain features or they complain about things. It’s pretty legitimate a lot of the time, and you have to, you know, listen to them and understand them, and I think we do. We’re pretty focused on community at CrowdStar as a whole actually. I think we may even be kind of known for it [laughs], our attention to our users.
In your role as a content manager, what does that actually entail?
TA: It’s several things. For a new game like It Girl, I was really lucky enough to help with some of the feature developments, so chatting with developers and the founders on, you know, what do we really want in this game, what’s fun, you know, what do people like to do? So, that was very fun.
But usually, I also manage the monetization aspects of the game. That’s a content manager’s main role, I guess, so we look at the numbers every day, we decide the content pipeline, you know, what do people want to buy? So, if people are putting real money into the game, we want to actually give them a better user experience. So, that’s very important to us, to make sure that if they are paying, the game is actually more fun.
How do you balance that? While you want to reward players who are paying, you don’t want players who aren’t paying, “Well, this is a rip-off. If I don’t put any money into this, I can’t have any fun.” Because then it’s going to ramp down.
TA: Yeah. It’s pretty tough actually. I like to play our game without cheating, as we say — juicing my account and see how it feels. The game is very fun on its own [laughs]. I got addicted to our game, even though, you know, I built it. I still love it. And so, I see… I’m able to see if it’s still a good game on its own. Most of the features we build are free anyway. It’s just maybe a little easier to battle…
TA: Oh, we have battles. Showdown. [laughs] We [call it] “battle” internally, but we shouldn’t. Sometimes we slip up, and “battle” got into the text every now and then. It’s supposed to be “showdown.”
[laughs] Is it like a fashion-off?
TA: Yeah, exactly. It’s a fashion-off. So, it’s PVP, you know, same idea as a battle except you kind of do poses at each other and you have a health bar basically called confidence. It’s the same deal there.
It’s funny because I was talking in a prior interview about how sort of existing gameplay design concepts that have stood the test of time can be layered onto new times and sort of massaged. That seems like that’s something you’re really approaching…
TA: Yeah. I feel like it does take those old concepts, and it’s just a very fun, new way of… A fun new iteration, I guess, of it? You try and dress in the best clothes and show off against other women. It’s pretty darn fun. [laughs]
So, kind of like real life, but more exaggerated.
TA: Yeah. [laughs] Much more. When you’re actually putting the hand in someone’s face and turning away. We have great animation.
Obviously this is exaggerated and this is fantastical to an extent, but if you look at traditional games, there’s no basis in reality for the scenarios that you’re going to be facing. With your game, it’s an exaggerated version of reality.
TA: Exactly. Yeah. Because you’re shopping and going to parties and trying to be the coolest one there basically, which is, you know, that happens. [laughs]
Do you find that that’s what gives the audience the hook into it because like you say, the mechanics resemble other games, right?
TA: Yeah, I think it is. People maybe want, you know, to shop all day long, want to party all day long, but they can’t. They’re busy. They have kids or jobs, you know, all that stuff, and so they can go on our game, dress in whatever they want, and go be the hottest girl at the party. It’s really fun.
You talked about looking at the data, too. You’ve got a tremendous amount of data here from the players.
Is it primarily your job to sift through that or just for that one angle?
TA: For the monetization aspects mostly, yeah. I sometimes look at virals, but we have a pretty big team at It Girl, and by “big” I mean relative to other CrowdStar teams, not relative to our competitors — because they have way, way more people. We have a lot of people looking at data, but I usually look at the numbers that have to do with the money.
Are they hard to interpret?
TA: No. It’s never a problem for me. I also really like numbers, but yeah.
Have you ever had insights that pan out? Or do they pan out usually?
TA: Oh yeah. It’s pretty cool. You kind of theorize, you know, “I think bags and shoes will do better,” or whatever it is. Half the time you’re right, and you find out what works — you know, what colors work better, what prints work better, and you go off of that. It’s pretty cool. You can forecast pretty accurately after a while.
I guess the game hasn’t been running that long, but I would think it would be kind of cyclical like fashion in the real world, right?
TA: Uh huh.
You go through seasons, go through year-to-year collections because ultimately what’s cool is going to be totally passe down the road.
TA: Yeah. We were thinking about that actually. We have so much content in the game, and we’re always putting in new content. So, I mean, we’re looking at all kinds of websites, seeing what’s hot basically and putting that in our game. Especially for the limited edition items, the premium goods, we put them out for maybe five days. So, those are like what is hot right now. People want to buy it.
You said you were very into games growing up. Was there a period where you fell out of it?
TA: Probably in college just because there’s so many other stimuli basically. Yeah. But other than that, as soon as I graduated… No, not even college. In the summers, I remember The Sims… The first one came out, I just wasted an entire summer on that. Once Civ IV came out, months of my life were [laughs] given to that game.
Had you never considered working on games, though, until you got involved in this?
TA: I don’t know why I hadn’t. I mean, my family is all engineers basically. I was kind of the more artsy one. I like to write creatively a lot. I write all the time now. So, I guess I thought, “Oh, I’m going to go down that road,” so I went to law school. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me that I could do this. It’s something I really enjoy. And writing crosses over a lot with what I do here. I write a lot of the… Almost all the dialogue. Any writing you see, I probably wrote it in It Girl.
If you look at the game industry, a vast majority is men. If you go to GDC, it’s all dudes.
Talking about big games like Halo or whatever, they obviously are very targeted on that audience.
Social games are opening the playing field way wider and having more creative content, so it’s interesting to kind of get the idea of how do women get into this, professionally get involved.
TA: I think they have to… Someone has to… I don’t know what it is. Maybe social gaming is going to help, because like I said it never really occurred to me. No one ever said, “Go for it.” And it just happened for me. You know, I start spreading… I tell everyone how much I absolutely love my job. All my friends know. I mean, my goodness. So, as that happens, I guess, it will slowly grow, I think. I don’t know. It’s just great.
You know, there was this whole sort of perception that girls don’t like games or whatever, you know what I mean. I think that was just because the content got to specifically targeted.
And I don’t even think that it’s like men like games; games got targeted at a pretty narrow swath of men.
TA: Mmhm. Yeah, and everything surrounding it somehow… I’ve played a little bit of Halo, but I was in a room full of all men, and they’re all like, “Ugh, it’s a girl that’s playing Halo” kind of thing. It’s not very inviting. But that’s not in the workplace. Here, I feel totally comfortable, obviously. So, it’s the cultural aspects of it, I guess, is what I’m saying.（Source：GameCareerGuide）