Hearthstone’s Community Manager Alkali on inclusion, accessibility, and gender representation: “I think HS can set that precedent, and it’s something that we are doing now” cover image

Hearthstone’s Community Manager Alkali on inclusion, accessibility, and gender representation: “I think HS can set that precedent, and it’s something that we are doing now”

Esports.gg had an exclusive interview with Alkali, Community Manager on the Hearthstone team. On top of the new Creators Program announcment scoop, she talked about her achievements and what still needs to be done.

Alkali has been Community Manager on the Hearthstone team for five months now, and her work doesn’t go unnoticed. Voyage to the Sunken City is the first expansion she worked on as a CM from start to finish with her team, and we got to see many surprises.  

Alkali sat with Esports.gg to talk about what she has achieved since she joined the Hearthstone publishing team. In an exclusive interview, Alkali mentioned what she thinks is Hearthstone’s secret.

Furthermore, she gave her point of view on topics like inclusion, accessibility, and gender representation. Sit by the fire while we go over this amazing interview where Alkali also reveals her next big plan for the Hearthstone Community, the Creator Program.

Hearthstone’s Secret and Alkali’s next big step: The Creator Program

Talking about the game and content in general, Alkali highlighted one of the advantages that Hearthstone has compared to other titles out there. “we have the secret weapon that we are a variety game within a game”. Why is this important for content creators? It allows them to switch between different game modes to avoid burnout and, at the same time, deliver content familiar to their community.

Content creators can alternate between Standard, Wild, Battlegrounds, Duels, Mercenaries, Arena, and PvE Adventures. That is one of the reasons for Hearthstone’s success, the variety it offers. But how hard is it to manage the increasing number of Hearthstone content creators? Alkali has a plan for that, a New Hearthstone Creator Program.

Alkali revealed exclusively to Esports.gg when Hearthstone’s Creator Program, which she says is needed 'Yesterday', will be announced. If you either are a creator or an active member of the community, you can’t miss this.

“You are getting the scoop here on when this is going to be. I’m going to be doing a Tell-all on the upcoming Creator Program. It is going to be on April 18th with the Angry Chicken Podcast. If anyone wants to tune in for that, they are going to have to follow them and stay tuned for announcements.”

Alkali on hearthstone's new creator program announcement

We don’t have more information right now, but the general idea is simple. In a previous tweet, Alkali mentioned that “having a clear path spelled out would be helpful to our creators”. Content creators, save the date, April 18th in the Angry Chicken Podcast

Alkali, Hearthstone’s Tinker Fairy

Going deeper into Alkali's personality and history, she describes herself as a Tinker Fairy, creating opportunities out of things that already exist out there. She says that social media is a treasure hunt with so many talents out there. Part of this comes from her background in cosplay.

“I do love looking for found opportunities. Back when I was a cosplayer, I used to call part of my cosplay “found things”. I used to say I was a tinker fairy because tinker fairies build things out of found things. So I feel I kind of brought that over into my job as a CM because I look for found opportunities."

Alkali CM on the Hearthstone team
Alkali's Valeera Cosplay - Featured in Hearthstone Mercenaries advert
Alkali's Valeera Cosplay - Featured in Hearthstone Mercenaries advert

One example of this was the Card Art reveals that started this expansion. As Alkali says, “There are not always a lot of opportunities from the Hearthstone side.” However, sometimes there is no need to invent something new but find the opportunity. “There are big things that we can give creators we have innvitationals, the card reveals, social activations, and playtesting events. What can I provide for some of the smaller creators? I love art and this just made sense”, Alkali said.

Inclusion and Accessibility in Hearthstone

Two achievements Alkali highlighted and was especially proud of were the Wild Theorycraft and the work done towards accessibility, particularly with blind Hearthstone players. Inspired by a Diversity and Inclusion training session run by Blizzard, Alkali said that working to have SuperBlindMan on the Theorycraft was “the coolest thing I might have ever done”.

Excited about the topic, Alkali recognized that the inclusion of the Blind Hearthstone community was a team effort in which game designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig played an important role. This wouldn’t have been possible without GuideDev, the developer of the Hearthstone Access mode.

“GuideDev does some amazing things for our blind community, and I became passionate about it. It became my mission after that class, I was really inspired by it. I helped get the ball rolling, but I want to say that the community really needs to thank Celestalon.”

Alkali to Esprots.gg about the invitation of a blind streamer to the Theorycraft event

On top of Brandon SuperBlindMan Cole’s invitation to the Theorycraft, Hearthstone launched its first Audio Descriptive expansion Trailer with Voyage to the Sunken City. This was also a consequence of the awareness of the training session and a multitudinary effort.

Alkali on gender representation: “I think Hearthstone can set that precedent, and it's something that we are doing now.”

Being Alkali, a successful woman in the gaming industry, it was inevitable to talk about the gender representation and the role of female creators in the Hearthstone community. On this topic, Alkali mentioned that it needs to be a collective effort made by everyone to create a cascade effect and overlap with other games. 

“I think Hearthstone can set that precedent, and it's something that we are doing now. We are taking big steps right now to make sure this happens. Some great examples of things we have made so far are not even finding women to do it, it's recognizing great women we have that were already doing it.”

This approach to the subject makes perfect sense with Alkali’s idea of “Found Opportunities” in Hearthstone. There are many talented women in the Hearthstone community, and their talent is being recognized. 

Alkali highlighted on Women's History month by Blizzard
Alkali highlighted on Women's History month by Blizzard

Sway Bae’s talent showcased during Onyxia’s Lair miniset was a clear example of this. Sway Bae is an actress in real life, and with her amazing talent, she made every Hearthstone player get to feel the Miniset storyline in the first person.

What's next?

Besides the new Creator Program announcement, there is more coming up. Alkali thinks this is just one step of a long run in how Hearthstone will be regarding communicating with its player base, community, and content creators.

Hearthstone is an 8-year old game, and it's still very much alive. Alkali knows that a lot has changed since Hearthstone’s launch back in 2014. “We didn’t even have TikTok 8 years ago for example. So, how we deliver information to our community needs to change as well. What can we do to keep delivering that content in a fresh way? That’s what we are trying to do.”, Alkali said.

If we take these last few months into consideration, we do notice a trend to spice things up, to be more casual, and to try to engage the audience in a different way. Doubling down, Alkali said that this is just the beginning and asks Hearthstone fans to stay tuned since they “are gonna keep it coming”.

“We’ve had a beatboxing card reveal, we’ve had the Prank (on Cora), we had a storyteller for the Mini-Set. I’m going to keep innovating, keep thinking, keep finding ways to deliver Hearthstone Content in ways our community hasn't seen before.”

Alkali to Esports.gg

Stephen "JustAGuy" Georgiou's card reveal, pranking his daughter Cora, part of Hearthstone's Design team, live during an interview on Heartkween's channel.

We will need to get used to expecting the unexpected. That is all for this exclusive Esports.gg interview with Alkali, part of Hearthstone’s Community Manager team. Don’t miss any Hearthstone news and updates, and see you next time in Sunken City.