People at Gameforge - Tom / VP Customers & HR

Introduce yourself: What do you do at Gameforge and how long have you been part of the Gameforge team?

I’m Tom, Vice President Customers and HR, and I’ve been with Gameforge for eleven and a half years.

Describe your career to date and how you ended up at Gameforge.

It all started more than 20 years ago. My girlfriend at the time – now my wife – was sitting at the kitchen table with her sister and best friend moaning about how much time her boyfriend spent in front of the PC. Her best friend piped up and said: ‘Why doesn’t he give my friend a call? He’s just set up an internet company.’ That’s how I got my first (student) job with Alex. He left 1&1 shortly after that, but I spent another two years working for the company in the Philippines. When I came back, I found myself in that predicament so many expats find themselves in: I didn’t really fit in any more, and wound up back out in the wilderness rather than being a director, as had been promised. At some point, Alex invited me out for a beer and asked: ‘You’re not exactly happy right now, are you?’ What could I say but ‘not exactly.’ He said: ‘You know, you don’t need to be unhappy if you don’t want to be. There’s a reason I wanted to meet you for a beer.’
And that’s how I found my way to Gameforge.

Describe your typical working day.

In my position it would be hard to say there’s anything typical. New things crop up every day which need resolving, whether that be dealing with daily business, compiling a list of Gameforge’s values, or simply handling budget requests when someone needs new office supplies.

Can you name your most common task?

Definitely one of the main roles I fill is being a sparring partner and coach for my managers.

What is the most enjoyable thing about being Vice President Customers and HR?

Except during a very short phase, there isn’t a single day when I look at the clock and am not surprised by how late it is. By comparison, I couldn’t wait to clock off in my previous jobs after they introduced time tracking. It’s different here, and that’s what makes the job special. There’s never a dull moment because the work is so varied.

What makes you and your position indispensable for Gameforge?

Nothing whatsoever. My position is vital, but not me personally. If my position didn’t exist, then I wouldn’t be here, and someone would have to tackle managing six large departments, which isn’t easy. I’m replaceable, just like anyone else. And I even know who would replace me.

What made you decide to pursue this career?

I didn’t exactly choose this career, instead it developed over time. At least as far as the German gaming industry is concerned, I think I’m about the only person who heads up a division like mine, one combining Support, Community Management, Localisation and HR in one. There’s nothing comparable anywhere else. My decision to study business administration and engineering no doubt plays a part in that, as the course was very broad-ranging and gave me a taste of pretty much everything. I really enjoy managing such a broad range of fields.

In your opinion, what makes Gameforge special as an employer?

The people who work here. The special thing about working for Gameforge is that even 12 years down the line, you’re still working with your friends. It’s obviously more difficult since I became a member of the Executive Board, but I couldn’t name a single person here who I wouldn’t want to spend my free time in the evening with. That’s something very special indeed. It’s fun working here, pure and simple.

What do you wish for Gameforge’s future?

A cool new game which is as successful as Metin2 was back then. We chalked up another big hit with SoulWorker, which was an important result for us, but I’d like to see more successes. And I want to see us keep our spirits up.

What games are you privately interested in most?

At heart I’m a big fan of RTS games, things like the C&C series. When I joined Gameforge, I started playing MMORPGs and at the moment I’m actually playing a lot of Runes of Magic in my spare time. That started when we launched the game on Steam, as I ended up talking to one of our teamlers about it. I soon got hooked, and now I’m level 44 and still having a lot of fun.

And now for an inside story. What is your personal highlight at Gameforge?

Definitely the first holiday in Andalusia. And in terms of business, the amazing success of Metin2. When we first moved into these premises, we were setting a new record for users each and every single week. No sooner had we produced our turnover forecasts than we’d already quadrupled our expectations and had to start over from scratch – it was a pretty awesome time.

Why do you like working in Karlsruhe and what’s your favourite location here?

Karlsruhe is fairly close to my home town. It has that delightful charm of being at once a small town, but yet large enough. It’s honestly one of my favourite towns, even though it’s missing the sea. The Günther Klotz Park is wonderful, and I like the palace grounds. If I had to put my finger on the most beautiful corner, then I’d have to say the Werderplatz, as I’m a southsider. It has something of a Mediterranean flair, you can sit outside and have a great time with the people.

What are you interested in outside of work?

Holidays and my family; my daughters are absolutely amazing.

What do you still want to achieve in life?

In truth, I’ve never made big plans. I enjoy every day as it comes, and it only gets better. Something I’d really love to do? I could imagine spending some time abroad again, either for work or just to live.

On a scale of 1 to 10 – how crazy are you?

How do you define crazy? I’m not exactly normal. At the same time, I don’t think I’m ready to acknowledge just how ‘normal’ I’ve become. If someone had once told me that today I’d be living in the most suburban of suburban suburbias in a semi-detached house with a little front garden, frankly I’d have laughed in their face. Guess I’m totally normal after all *laughs*.


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