An interview with Hash Rush Director of Marketing, Craig Ritchie

Now that the Hash Rush ICO has started, we thought it would be a good idea to continue our interview series. Earlier I interviewed the Lead Concept Artist of Hash Rush, Dendy Dhamier, and the Hash Rush Chief Game Economist, Jethro Naude. In today’s instalment of the series, I talk to Director of Marketing Craig Ritchie, ask him what he’s up to and see what his plans are for Hash Rush.

Hash Rush is genuinely breaking new ground in a lot of ways. / Craig Ritchie

Hi Craig, thanks for taking the time. What are you doing at this moment?

Hey — no problem. Right now I’m sitting in front of my PC at home in Torquay, Australia. Just finished lunch and I’ve been checking the waves but they’re no good today, so I’m going to dive into a game of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds instead. It’s my current poison.

Awesome, good choice! Could you briefly introduce yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Sure. So, I’m originally from South Africa and after almost two decades of freelance writing, I moved full-time into tech and games marketing around six years ago. My job has taken me literally around the world more than once, and it’s great to finally be settled in one place now (my wife and I moved to Australia in February) after having lived in China, Iceland and the UK.

What does your office look like? Do you have a home office?

Yep, I’ve got a home office downstairs — a nice open space. It’s converted from a lounge to an office, so I’ve got the workspace on one end, a couple of couches, bookshelves and TV in the other, and a little nook off to one side with three more bookshelves. We have a lot of books.

Great, that sounds quite picturesque. Let’s talk a bit about Hash Rush and your role in the project. From my interview with Jethro, we already know you are a friend of him and that you introduced him to Hash Rush. But how were you introduced to Hash Rush yourself?

It was back in early July and I was browsing Steemit [a social media platform], looking at new projects in the crypto space. I came across Hash Rush and I was really intrigued, but it left me with quite a few questions. I set up an interview with Kris and Nathan to try and learn a bit more. One thing led to another and then they offered me a position to help out on the project!

Wow, that’s great. And what have you been doing since then? What is your role at Hash Rush?

My official title is “Director of Marketing” but right now, as we’re a small and growing team, I do a lot of different things; from overall branding and marketing strategy, right through to community engagement on Discord, Facebook, BitcoinTalk and other social channels.

I see, and what do you like most about your work for Hash Rush?

The most fun part of the job is working with Nathan on some of the narrative design, and interfacing with our extremely talented art team on concepts and early designs for the characters, units and structures. Seeing an idea come to life like this, from a brainstorming session to a written description through to these amazing final visuals from Nic and Dendy, is really cool.

I’ve taken a look at some of the work you’ve done together with Nic and Dendy, and I must agree, there’s a lot of promising art work on the way. So you work with them, and of course with me (Jochem) since we do a lot of marketing tasks together. But who else do you work with, within the Hash Rush team?

Haha, at the moment, almost everyone! This is a really crucial time in the lifecycle of any game as a lot of people are hearing about it for the first time. There’s so many people, crypto or mining enthusiasts, finding out about Hash Rush via cryptocurrency sites and joining our community to decide whether or not to participate in the ICO. So we have to think about how to present things to both the crypto community and the wider gaming community, and as a result I need to engage with all the key people in the company who are working on either of these. Kris (Vaivods) and Nathan (Zeidonis) head up those areas respectively, so there’s always a Slack conversation or an email chain going back and forth.

I also interface almost daily with Rafal [the Lead Producer], as well as members of the Tractor Set GO! team in Romania, and of course our two artists. They’re producing not only our game concepts, but also all marketing assets — I’m sure by now they’ve come to dread the Basecamp notification emails.

Right, I can imagine it’s quite challenging to manage such a large and unique project. Where do you start with marketing for a project like Hash Rush?

Well, it’s about getting a high-level overview of all the moving parts and then finding a way to distinctively implement one-to-one intellectual capital opportunities while strategically syndicating out-of-the-box paradigms for multichannel success. We must progressively transform our frictionless e-business while completely optimizing our offerings according to the needs of this dynamic online landscape, grabbing every low-hanging fruit and thus fungibly pushing competitive quality vectors whenever possible.

Simple, really.

Just kidding — that’s from a corporate bullshit generator I keep handy; everybody should have one. Really, I just spend a lot of time on calls and Slack with the whole team. I’m getting a grasp of every element of where the business is now and what we need to message for the next few months, build out a plan, and use the resources at our disposal to execute on it. Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s also really rewarding when you pull off a successful campaign.

Wow, that still sounds quite challenging. But if you compare that to some other projects you worked on, what is different?

The main difference is that Hash Rush is genuinely breaking new ground in a lot of ways, and there’s no real precedent to look to and learn from successes and failures. There have been some games using blockchain tech or allowing cryptocurrency rewards, but nothing that has been directly tied to crypto mining like this.

Also, some of the games and products I’ve worked on in the past had a clear demographic we were reaching. But for Hash Rush, we’re walking a line between making our game appealing to miners who already know about the crypto space, and gamers who may have only recently become familiar with crypto due to all the buzz it’s been getting over the last six months or so.

The closest game I’ve worked on that had these elements of entering the new unknown was EVE: Valkyrie, built from the ground up for virtual reality. We were developing a day 1 launch title for brand new hardware and had to figure out some pretty interesting things along the way — not just in terms of actual gameplay mechanics and design, but also in terms of user journeys and messaging around this new technology.

Sure, that makes sense. But then how do you make sure that you can appeal to both gamers and crypto-miners? These two audiences differ quite a bit I suppose.

Well, I think there’s a lot of overlap just if you think about the kind of person who may be into cryptocurrencies. Gaming is so ubiquitous and if you’re the kind of tech head who knows how to assemble 6 or more GPUs into a single system, chances are you’ve played a fair few games in your time as well.

I think it will be more interesting to bring gamers into the crypto space. Hash Rush has a really strong game design team who are very focused on making it fun — a real fun game to play, over and above the fact that you can earn money while playing. We’re in a great position to show the gaming world that crypto doesn’t need to be a daunting experience, and we’ll do that by slowly introducing concepts as the player needs to learn them. Ideally we’ll also be able to reduce the steps needed for a newcomer to be up and running with their own cryptocurrency wallet. We’re still looking into a lot of the options, so I don’t want to comment too much until we can confirm the details.

Alright, that sounds like a solid plan. So if we talk about Hash Rush, how are you going to market it? More particularly, what is unique about Hash Rush?

Quite simply, I don’t think there’s ever been any other project quite like this. You will be able to genuinely earn money while playing a videogame. The more you put in and devote yourself to Hash Rush, the better your mining output will be.

Many gamers quite rightly ask, “where does the money come from?” and I hope Hash Rush can serve as an introduction to mining and other blockchain concepts. Actually, I might provide this introduction right here.

Sure thing! Go ahead.

Well, if you’re reading this and you don’t know that much about the crypto space, basically, your units and structures in the game will have certain attributes which correlate with real-world hashing power in the Hash Rush mining farm. This is a large array of computers running complex algorithms in a process colloquially known as ‘hashing’, whereby new coins for various cryptocurrencies are found and added to the crypto economy. These currencies, such as Ethereum, Monero and Zcash, have been exploding in value this year and demand for them has skyrocketed — and that’s where the money comes from. When playing Hash Rush, your share of the mining proceeds will be paid out weekly, and are yours to do with as you please.

Cool, that sounds great, maybe I should let you do this more often! So, on top of the unique selling point of, let’s just say, ‘crypto-gaming’, many people are already very excited about the different factions. Do you have a faction you like most?

This is a tough one. We’re busy reworking the concept art for the space pirate faction at the moment, and I’m really stoked with the designs. Their backstory and their motive is also really interesting, but then so is what’s driving the elves. Then there’s the Ernacks — those little guys in the blue hoods you may have seen already — who are the most developed faction thus far. I also love their visual style and some of the secrets that the dev team have in store for them. But all things considered, I think the story I’m most interested in is that of the space pirates…

Haha ok, I see. I think all three of you preferred the space pirates [including Dendy, our Lead Concept Designer, and Jethro, our Chief Game Economist]. I wonder if there’s a reason for that…
Anyway, we’ve come to the end of this interview! Is there anything you want to share with our readers? Dendy spoke about his cat, and Jethro spoke about his favourite game that very few people know about. What is something ‘cool to know’ about you?

I guess one very good thing is that I’m pretty lucky to have a wife that gets the gaming world. She plays a few games when she has time, and completed both Legend of Zelda Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons last year. If you don’t know those games, you really should check them out. In fact, she still has her original Gameboy here at the house, with a bunch of original cartridges. The machine’s totally sun-bleached and faded, but we tested it recently and it still works perfectly! Oh and I think Tetris on the Gameboy is the single greatest game ever made. It’s perfect.

Great, well that ends my interview with Craig Ritchie. Next week, I’ll sit down with one of our other newest team members, stay tuned!

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