Greetings fellow Citizens! It’s time for Meet the Devs with Sandi Gardiner, VP of Marketing!
JP – James Pugh; SG – Sandi Gardiner
JP – So, I gotta ask about that ring… like the full finger ring, where’d you…
SG – Where’d I get that?
JP – Yeah.
SG – I got it here in LA, it’s by a designer called Gaia. So, I can actually bend a little bit.
JP – Let’s see…
SG – But not a full…
JP – You can’t even bend? *laughing*
SG – No you can’t… you can bend a little bit. There you go.
*Meet the Devs Intro Plays*
JP – Welcome back to Meet the Devs, I’m James Pugh. With me today is a very special guest – our VP of Marketing, Sandi Gardiner. Sandi, how are you doin?
SG – Good! How are you?
JP – Thanks for comin’ on.
SG – Thank you.
JP – So, you’ve been with the project since its inception. How were you brought on to the process?
SG – I was brought on to the process – Chris had talked about this project for quite awhile before 2012 and he’d been going around interviewing people to do the marketing part of the campaign and I said that I would put in a pitch. I’m just really grateful for that opportunity that he gave me because I hadn’t worked in the gaming industry before.
JP – So, where were you at before you came here?
SG – I wasn’t.
JP – You didn’t exist?
SG – I didn’t! I didn’t exist at all.
SG – I did not exist at all. Now, I actually had basically been doing a lot of modelling and acting and also working in other areas in marketing – as marketing manager, marketing director – so I had had other marketing roles.
JP – So, you came from fashion and that sort of industry, correct?
SG – I did. So, yes. Marketing for nightclubs and restaurants and stuff, marketing in fashion, and then – Actually I just recently looked at some work references that I just found and I worked in commercial real estate doing marketing for them.
JP – Cool!
SG – So, lots of stuff.
JP – So, you decided to get into video games?
SG – Yeah! I did a LOT of homework, because I really didn’t know a lot about it. At the time there was Double Fine and Tim Schaefer who were doing their thing and also Project Eternity I think launched right before we did. So, I was really doing a lot of research – and also into just…
JP – Well, yeah it’s this weird position where you have to learn how to market a game – you’re used to marketing but not in this sphere, and not only that you have to learn how to take this new way to fund something and make that into a workable plan.
SG – Yeah… because the – I took what I’d done from past experience and kind of put it all into the one thing. So, like I said, I’m just really grateful that Chris gave me that opportunity because it was a little different, I think, from what everybody else was suggesting. Because, the experience in say nightclubs and restaurants and stuff is kind of what we do on the events side.
JP – Yeah, that makes sense.
SG – Like CitizenCon, Gamescom. The merchandising, because I’d done that whole production line in fashion and I’d done the marketing for that. That kind of what we do in merchandising… and we’re getting there *laughs*.
JP – We’re working on it.
SG – We’re working on it. I mean, it’s just something that kind of snowballed.
JP – Well, that’s interesting. So, you were here when there was what like… maybe 4 people?
SG – Yeahhh.
JP – And you’ve seen it grow to like – what are we at now, like 270 or something?
SG – I would do Skype calls…
JP – With everyone!
SG – Yeah!
SG – With everyone! Exactly. It was Dave Haddock, Chris, Me, Ben, David Swofford, and our web team. We had a really small web team at that time. So, we’d just get on these Skype calls and I would kind of take down all the notes and follow up with everybody and I think Ben was in DC at the time. Swofford was in Austin. The web team were in Florida I think it was. It was just this whole – coordinating was like… alright… Yeah, and then it just really snowballed.
JP – So, what are you most proud of that you’ve done so far?
SG – I’m really proud of our team, be it small, but it’s a very… I mean, doing a campaign – and I know there weren’t many of us in the beginning – but just going through that whole experience together. And then, even like with bringing you on board and Tom and Jared. Alexis… and our CS team in the UK. Going through those experiences, I’m just really proud of how our team has come together and we’re all so passionate about doing that, it’s just really cool. And I’m also proud of… our community is like unbelievable.
JP – Yeah.
SG – It’s like tear jerking stuff. They’re so passionate and generous and…
JP – That’s gotta be a shift for you too, coming from the fashion and real estate sphere where you don’t really interact generally with people, to having to interact with the community so much. Was that easy for you in the beginning and how do you feel about it now?
SG – Uhm… I remember right at the beginning… total culture shock. A little nerve wracking because they can be really intense…
JP – Nooooo…
SG – It’s like, “Wow! Okay… well, I’m just trying to my best to do a campaign.” And it’s 24/7, I mean back then there was no one else doing customer service except me and another girl called Cindy and Ben was helping me out and so, it was just such a… getting on the forums and kind of like… a lot of questions like, “Who are you?” You know… “Sandi Gardiner, who are you?”
I’m like *scared face* “Well, uh…” you know, I just wasn’t expecting it. People are that interested in who I am. It was more like, “Hey, I just wanna give this to you guys and make something cool.”
JP – Yeah, that is quite the shock. I don’t get it as much as you do but the concept of… you know, we’re just trying to create this game and we’re trying to make it for you guys. And the concept that you guys care about us is flattering but…
SG – It can be really overwhelming…
JP – It’s so real is what it is…
SG – It is! I mean, you know five or six days at Gamescom and I literally – from start to finish there was somebody talking to me who knew me by my first name and last name and just a lot about me that I’m just, “Oh… hi!” It’s just really intense because it’s… I didn’t create the campaign to receive that attention. It was like, I really want to be able to give something to people to be able to share a passion together and create something together.
JP – So, where do we go from here in terms of our marketing strategy and what we want the project to be?
SG – Well, the plan that I had from beginning was probably a 2 to 3 year plan. Now, some of that plan hasn’t come to fruition as yet because I’m not in control of the development. It has to be one of the most challenging – in fact THE most challenging thing I’ve ever done because… most things, there’s a date.
JP – Yeah.
SG – Like, if I’m organizing… like if I’ve organized a party for 40,000 people on New Year’s Eve – it’s New Year’s Eve.
JP – Yeah, you can’t do it on the 2nd.
SG – Exactly! It’s happening on New Year’s Eve. So, I’m doing all of that work and everything and there you go. But with this it’s like I can do all of the work and then, “Hey, there’s bugs and we can’t. This is not happening.” Having said all of that, I’m really really looking forward to the next few months because I’m starting to see all of that hard work that the dev guys have put in – it’s like getting to the crest of the wave or… to the top of Mount Everest or something. Where there’s that real slog of hard work to get to a point where you can constantly deliver content and updates and everything and I’m really excited for that because that means my job…
JP – Is way easier!
SG – Exactly! I can actually implement my plan! So, I’m really looking forward to these next few months. Like CitizenCon and beyond I’m like… YES!
JP – Finally feels like everything is falling in line.
SG – Right. Exactly.
JP – Alright. We’re gonna let you out of here but before you go, we have three rapid-fire questions. Are you ready?
SG – Alright!
JP – Favourite movie?
SG – Godfather.
JP – Never seen it.
SG – Are you serious?!
JP – Yeah.
SG – Oh my gosh… Alright… that just… I mean there are other movies but that’s just the first one… Okay go!
JP – Favourite video game?
SG – Doom.
JP – Favourite ship in Star Citizen?
SG – Oh… gosh… I like a lot of them. I’m gonna go with the 890 JUMP.
JP – 890 JUMP… why?
SG – Why?
JP – Because it’s a space yacht?
SG – Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s because you’re saying the favourite. That’s not the one I would fly by myself… but just the whole concept of it… It’s like just, you know, hangin’ out with friends on a space yacht.
JP – That is pretty awesome. Space yachts for the win.
SG – Yup. There we go.
JP – Alright, thank you so much again for joining us!
SG – Thank you!
JP – Thank you for taking the time. Once again, I’m James Pugh, this is Sandi Gardiner, and you just met a dev!
SG – Thanks guys!
JP – You gotta point at the camera.
SG – Ah! *points at the camera*
JP – Bye guys!
SG – With my finger ring!
JP – *laughing* Yeah!