Nerd Journey 035: Jimmy Tassin – Minecraft and Building Community

Welcome to episode 35 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss how Minecraft influenced Jimmy Tassin’s career in the second of our two part discussion.

Original Recording Date: 04-16-2019

Topics – Part 2 of Our Discussion with Jimmy Tassin – Minecraft and Building Community

The articles of Jimmy’s we reference

1:46 – Gaming Community Participation and Relatable Experience

  • Jimmy’s articles in the Spiceworks community mentioned being a part of the Minecraft community.
  • He was first introduced into the Minecraft community while at his job with the healthcare company. A co-worker got him hooked.
    • It’s important to choose the right Minecraft server.
    • Within a year, Jimmy transitioned from player to moderator to admin to co-owner of the Minecraft server.
    • After a Mincraft server was shut down, Jimmy and other co-owners launched OmniKraft.
  • From the beginning, administering the server was basically a full time job. It was essentially like running his own company.
    • As soon as he got home from work, he would begin work on supporting the server. This was 4-5 hours per day on average.
    • John points out what running a Minecraft server entails to clarify and why this is like running a business.
    • Jimmy had employees, had to manage expenses, do taxes, setting up the shop for players to spend money, figure out marketing, provided customer service, etc.
      • The average player age was probably 13.
      • Managing users was like herding kittens.
    • Almost everything for Minecraft was Linux-based to make hosting cheaper.
      • Finding a hosting provider, doing backups, and configuring firewall rules were all part of the administration.
  • At one point Jimmy’s co-owner suggested they purchase a physical server and co-locate.
  • Jimmy realized this experience was translatable and could help his career.
    • During an interview with his current employer, Jimmy was able to provide evidence of his management experience to a C-level audience.
    • It’s difficult to get a job in management with no experience. Jimmy wrote the articles in Spiceworks to help others realize the experience may not come from your day job.
    • "I was a gaming service provider / small business owner" vs. "I’m super into Minecraft"
    • "It’s all the same stuff…just a different wrapping."
  • The Spiceworks articles received a lot of comments and replies.

23:22 – Putting Something Down to Pick Up Something Else

  • Jimmy eventually shut OmniKraft down after working on it for 4 years.
  • Jimmy was spending more time building environments than playing the game for enjoyment.
  • He offered to stay on during transition and let his staff take over.
    • He had hoped someone would continue the work.
    • There was a community aspect to Minecraft servers that Jimmy did not want people to lose.
    • They transitioned to VentureKraft.
  • After stepping down, he could not bring himself to play Minecraft again.
  • How did Jimmy spend his time after laying this project down?
    • At first he wasn’t sure what he would do.
    • After a couple of months, he spent time grounding himself from the experiences and trying not to get too emotional about it.
    • Part of the time was helping a new community get on its feet / transition over from OmniKraft. He did not want to disappear completely.
    • He hosted some events for the new server as well as some events for other games.
    • Jimmy eventually started a Discord group called OmniGamers.
    • The full transition history of OmniKraft to VentureKraft and then the birth of Omnigamers can be found here.
    • Jimmy really got into the community aspect of gaming communities and couldn’t leave it.
  • Jimmy has a talent for keeping things running that are important to him.
    • Jimmy carried the torch and helped coordinate the SpiceBuddy Program for Spiceworld 2018 when the former coordinator went silent on the community.
    • "Somebody needed to fill the shoes. I have skills that can probably do it. I’ll just jump in and do it."
    • Jimmy won the Spiceworks Champion award in 2016 for his community contributions.
    • "The things I do in the community…anyone else can do. I just happen to be the one doing it."
    • Jimmy is more active in the security focused groups in the community these days.
      • Security has become a passing of his as a result of past experience.
  • How did Jimmy get started speaking at events?
    • It started when he was invited to be on a discussion panel at the Spiceworld conference.
    • The next year he did a full session that was very well received. He has presented a session at each Spiceworld since then.
      • He was one of the first to give two different sessions at the same Spiceworld.
    • Some experience from the Navy involved being on a very large stage. Listen to Jimmy’s story on this.
  • Advice for career acceleration
    • If you’re considering being a presenter, build on that. Think about something you could talk about for an hour.
      • Think about questions to ask the audience.
      • Instead of thinking about being nervous before a presentation, think about being excited.
      • The presentation is about sharing things others do not know that can make them better.
    • As for career progression…
      • If you feel stuck with the traditional sense of progression, look for unorthodox ways. Jimmy used Minecraft as well as participation in Spiceworks. See what works for you.
    • What is the next role for Jimmy?
      • He’s thinking a CIO or CIS role may suit him best.
    • Reach out to Jimmy on Spiceworks, LinkedIn, or even Discord.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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