The series continues. There are so many people who make the magic happen here at AtmosFX – the animators, the developers, the office and finance team, the people that make sure the kegerator remains full. (We all make sure it gets emptied.) Today, we’d like you to meet the person who is so important in maintaining the connection between the company and our dedicated fans – AtmosFX’s Senior Marketing and Community Manager, Mike Gills.
From its original inception, AtmosFX has always been about its fans. The Two Petes, after all, started the company with the idea making movie studio–quality animation accessible to anyone. Mike is essentially the person that makes sure the company continues to keep its focus directly on its fans – through its communications, social media, partnerships and other outward-facing promotional efforts.
Making connections is what Mike has been doing for his entire career. He worked in several capacities at Disney World – perhaps the gold standard when it comes to taking care of customers – for several years. He’s been in Seattle since the late ’90s, largely working in the gaming industry here. (Among many roles, he was the game tester for ‘Need for Speed 3,’ which, he warns, “is not nearly as fun as it sounds.”) His roles in this space were typically community management, business development, brand management – “at the intersection of game and gamer,” as he calls it.
He remains slightly famous, too, thanks to his time at Wizards of the Coast, where he working on the Pokemon team. He became known as Master Trainer Mike, traveling the world to run Pokemon events – including the world championships. Every so often, he will still sign an autograph for fans who remember him from that era.
In coming to AtmosFX, Mike found that same engaged community in digital decorators that he found in gamers. “They both are all about the joy of play,” he says. “They both are about building community and playing together.”
Q: You have many years experience as a gamer, as well as working in the gaming industry. What do gamers and digital decorators have in common?
Mike Gills: I think the most important similarity between the two is their mutual desire to share fun with others. Gameplay with friends is fun, and so is sharing your enjoyment of the holidays with your friends and neighbors.
Q: You have been playing Dungeons & Dragons since its earliest days. What are your top 5 role playing games?
1. Dungeons & Dragons (I run our office game!)
2. Call of Cthulhu
But who could forget Traveler, Twilight 2000, Deadlands, Champions, Ringworld, Villains & Vigilantes? And there are so many more!
Q: You are an unabashed fan of Disney’s Magic Kingdom, having worked in multiple capacities in Orlando for several years. What was your favorite role there? And, on the flip side, was there any one thing you really did not enjoy?
MG: I really enjoyed being a tour guide in the Special Effects and Production Tour at the old Disney/MGM Studios. Loading people into the water tank or onto the giant bumblebee (from Honey I Shrunk the Kids) and watching them enjoy themselves was amazing. When I later worked at Pleasure Island, I got to be a doorman one night at the disco club. While it was interesting, I have to say I did not look very good in the leisure suit they gave me to wear.
Q: Are there any characters/scenes that you think AtmosFX should create, regardless of whether or not the decoration would sell well?
MG: I think there are a lot of amazing intellectual properties out there that fans would enjoy sharing through digital decorations, whether during holidays or just to share their fandom. But I am partial to HP Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos. I think seeing a shoggoth in your front window or Azathoth on your ceiling and hearing the mad piping of accursed flutes could be really creepy.
Q: Not including Halloween, what is your favorite holiday?
MG: I love Christmas. Food, friends, presents, games. It's a great time to be thankful for our friends and loved ones.
Q: What is your favorite movie genre – and what are your top 5 favorite movies within that genre?
MG: I love many types of movies but I have a secret love of disaster films. In an increasingly complex world, these movies are just our heroes struggling to survive whatever disaster has befallen them. Easy to know who to root for and fun to imagine how well we would do in the same situation. My five favorite disaster films are:
1. Dante's Peak
3. Damnation Alley
But don't forget the classics like Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure, The Evil Dead or The Omega Man or newer films like Twister, Wall-E, Pitch Black, or The Cabin in the Woods. So many disasters to try and survive!