Welcome to the FFXIV Community Spotlight column! This column runs parallel with the Echoes of Eorzea series of articles and aims to highlight and show appreciation to members of our community who go that extra mile to create content or organize projects for us to enjoy, usually in their own time and for free.
Eorzean Glamour Idols Community
In today's article, we will be talking to Sophia Edenhart who is the founder of the Eorzean Glamour Idols community project created in January 2018. Eorzean Glamour Idols, or 'EGI' as it's more commonly known, is a Discord and Twitter community of Final Fantasy XIV screenshot enthusiasts.
The primary intent of the EGI community is to enable those who share a love for screenshot photography to have a place where they can share their work, build friendships with like-minded enthusiasts, find inspiration and grow their skills in the field. Within the community Discord server, there are daily and weekly themes along with several dedicated themed channels such as action, landscapes, housing, advice, and glamour. Some members even create alts specifically on different data centers just so that they can take shots with other members of the community. The images used throughout this article have been kindly provided by members of the EGI.
In the realms of real life, Sophia is an archaeologist specializing in the southeastern United States European-contact period with Native Americans, an amateur recording artist and parent of two children.
EGI Founder Sophia Edenhart - Miqo'te Summoner - Excalibur [Credit: Sophia]
How long have you played FFXIV and why did you begin?
I have been playing for nearly three years. I have loved the Final Fantasy series since I played the original game in the early 1990s. I also like to play MMORPGs set in fantasy settings, and many of my friends had played the game previously and said good things about it.
What is your favorite class/job and why?
I don't really like favorites that much. I tend to rotate between things. I guess we could just say that summoner is my favorite, but a lot of it is because I just know the job so well and I don't have to think about it when I play it. I like that I get to have a carbuncle companion, and I like that my weapon is a book.
What aspect of the game do you enjoy the most?
Again, I have a difficult time with favorites. I like to rotate between a lot of different content in the game. We can say that my favorite aspect is the crafting/gathering progression. I enjoy finding new materials when they are first released and experimenting with rotations to get the most out of my gear. I also love being able to make anything I want as well as make things for my friends. I really enjoy other aspects of the game, though, like PVP, hunting, and Triple Triad.
What aspect of the game do you enjoy the least?
At this point in time, I'll say raiding. I have raided in the past, but it's not really enjoyable with my schedule. You really need a good static, I think there is enjoyment that can be achieved from it, but I don't really have the time for that, and party finder is just frustrating. I basically gave up on it during the first tier of Stormblood because it was causing me too much anguish. I also don't like how many people overemphasize the importance of raiding and think that it is the only type of content that should matter.
What style of screenshot art do you find the most appealing?
I like when people are creative and do things that I never anticipated or come up with new techniques that I had never considered. I appreciate the creativity and thought that goes into art more than I do the ultimate aesthetic quality, even though they often go hand in hand.
Do you have an online portfolio for your own screenshots and have you any personal projects on the go?
Yes, I have a portfolio website as part of my Adobe subscription. You can view it here.
How did EGI spring to life?
I approached a friend who I felt had the same values that I did toward screenshot art to see what she thought of the idea of having a Discord server and Twitter page that would bring together screenshot artists. She liked the idea, so I made the server and we compiled a list of people who we thought we could invite to help us get started. I mostly suggested people who I knew interacted with me a lot on Twitter, as well as those whose art I appreciate. That group became the original "idol" group and about a dozen of us spent a few days in the server alone kind of hashing out what it should be. I then launched the Twitter page and opened up the server publicly, and people just swarmed in immediately. I think we had 200 followers on Twitter the first day and 500 by the end of the first week. Our members on Discord also grew dramatically. I immediately started a daily screenshot contest and added a few more people to the idol role and we were on our way.
[caption id="attachment_219691" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Rinny[/caption]
Is this your first community project? If no, what were you involved with before-hand?
As far as Final Fantasy XIV is concerned, yes it is. I am a part of several social organizations outside of the gaming world, but I was not responsible for starting any of them even if I do play an integral organizational role in some cases.
Why did you choose the name 'Eorzean Glamour Idols' and how does this relate to the community and server content?
The person who I approached to help me start the community goes by "Eorzean Supermodel" on Twitter, which I always thought was a great name. I am also hyper aware of acronym usage, so I wanted to find something that would be memorable and fit into FFXIV. EGI just seemed like the natural choice, so it was just a matter of filling in the G and the I.
Where can EGI be found?
[caption id="attachment_219709" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Kirsi[/caption]
What was the main motivating factor behind creating the EGI?
I started using Twitter for glamour shots last summer, and over the subsequent months I found that there was a great community of people there, and I made many friends, but there was no uniting point for people to really come together and interact more directly. I was able to go meet people on other servers and take pictures with them and like their imagery, but the Twitter format is a little inhibiting because it is also a money-making platform and makes content available based on popularity. I thought it would be nice to have a Discord server where I could bring a lot of the people whose work I appreciated together to work on events and share their images more directly, but there was nothing that was solely based on screenshot art. Several servers had dedicated channels to art or media, but there was no organized community based on glamour and landscape screenshots even though a large number of people are on Twitter or in those servers solely for that purpose.
What is your primary long-term goal for the EGI community?
I want it to continue to be a place where everyone who is interested in screenshot art can come and share their passion with like-minded people. I also want it to be the place that people go when they want to see the talent that so many people display, even if they aren't necessarily interested in taking pictures themselves. I want there to be camaraderie and fun, and I think we have had a lot of that so far.
[caption id="attachment_219701" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Rinike[/caption]
What does 'a day in the life of EGI community' consist of?
Well, it may look a little different from someone else's perspective, but I can at least give mine. Our TweetDeck auto-posts the theme for the #egidaily screenshot event on Twitter first thing in the morning, and one of our idols, Rinike, shares that post with a clever snippet in a dedicated "egi-daily" channel in our Discord server. When I wake up in the US eastern time zone, our European members are usually chatting away about breakfast and lunch, and there are also people from the west coast saying good night. People chat a lot and share their screenshots, some with the daily theme and others without. People connect with each other and do joint photo shoots and share them. If it's a Wednesday I will announce the #egifinest theme which is a weekly screenshot contest with Mogstation prizes funded by our Patreon supporters. A lot of the daily work in EGI goes on behind the scenes, though. I recently asked two idols to step up and be administrators with me, so all three of us have access to the TweetDeck, which allows us to retweet all of the daily posts that people make as well as a selection of idol posts. This is something that all three of us try to keep up throughout the day as we are available.
We recently ended the "Spring Elections" which was a screenshot tournament that went on over a two-month period. During that event, I also spent a lot of time coordinating with judges and contestants over themes and getting different bouts and brackets started and finished. The same goes for #egifinest because we allow our Patreon supporters to select the themes and help judge the weekly contest. I also have to keep track of the Patreon account and notify people if their pledges don't go through and ensure that they are getting their role rewards.
On top of all of that, there are the everyday issues that come up in any online community. We have about 600 people in our Discord server at the moment, so you can imagine that not everyone gets along and sometimes people say things that offend others. The two other admins, Autumn and Zathe, help me deal with these issues as they come up to the best of our ability, all while trying to plan for new events and trying to improve our structure. It's quite a busy place, as you can see!
EGI Daily EGI Daily is a thematic Twitter event where we encourage all of our members and followers to post screenshots adhering to a daily theme. The themes will be taken from suggestions from all of our members. To suggest a theme, post your idea with an example screenshot (which will be featured on our Twitter page) in the #daily-themes channel. Watch for the Twitter post every morning at 3:00 AM EST (GMT -5) and use the #egidaily tag for your post so that we can retweet your screenshots on our page. You may also post your daily screenshots in the #egi-daily channel here on the server, whether you use Twitter or not.
EGI Finest EGI Finest is a weekly, thematic screenshot contest with Mogstation cash shop prizes funded by our Patreon supporters. Each month, our Chocobo patrons will select a suite of themes for the contest, and these will be announced each week in the #egi-finest channel. Participants will have a set number of days to make their submissions based on the theme, and then our Tonberry patrons will vote on the winners. Please visit the actual channel for more information, and see below for details on how to be a Patreon member.
[caption id="attachment_219710" align="aligncenter" width="560"] EGIDaily submission from Alruccabah[/caption]
Does the community have any upcoming events that you would like to discuss with us?
We just revamped the #egifinest contest to include Mogstation prizes, and we have a lot of people pledging support on Patreon to help fund that. There is also a rumor that one of our idols might take on a masked persona and start holding an EGI fashion report within the server. I cannot tell you any more about that at the moment, though, I'm afraid.
What criteria do members have to meet to attain the rank of 'Idol'?
This is something that has sort of changed as we have developed, and it is difficult to lay down specific criteria for admitting people. Generally, we have invited people to the role who are both regularly active in the server but who are also respected within the community. However, we have to be careful about the number of people in the role or else things can get a little unruly. That means that some people might get overlooked or we may not invite deserving people if we feel like the number is already too high. I also don't want people to think that those in the idol role are privileged or elite and get special treatment or attention in the server. It's true that we have a dedicated channel on the server for idol pictures and that we do retweet a selection of their posts as a benefit of being in the role, but when it comes to operating the server, all of the individual members are equally valued in my eyes, and I want to make sure there are opportunities for everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves, regardless of their Discord role.
[caption id="attachment_219716" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Runfrior[/caption]
What aspirations and long-term goals do you have for EGI? Do you intend to develop the community into anything further?
At this point, the short-term goals are focused on fine-tuning the #egifinest event and how that interacts with Patreon supporters. Beyond that, I can't say that I have greater intentions. We recently expanded somewhat onto Instagram, so it is possible that we could move out to other platforms if there is interest, but right now I think we are still actively stabilizing and finding harmony with our current activities.
What element of the community are you most proud of?
I think I'm the proudest when people post public tweets that they are inspired by the community and that it makes them want to improve their skills and ability to create art. For me, that is the most important thing. I always try to retweet those posts when I see them because they make me feel very warm inside.
EGI recently started its own Patreon account, can you tell us more about this (why you started it and what patrons can expect from signing up)?
There were people on the server who expressed interest in supplying prizes for contests, and Patreon seemed the easiest and most transparent way of collecting funds from people who want to support us in that way. We have different tiers that are based around the #egifinest contest and its operation. The basic tier just gives you a special Discord role that appears at the top of the list (below the admins), so that people can show off the fact that they are a supporter. The next role allows people to put together the slate of themes for that month's #egifinest contests, and the one after that allows them to collectively vote for the winners of that contest. We also have a higher tier that allows the patron to request a portrait created by an idol of their choice, drawn from a list of volunteers. We want to emphasize again and again that all of the money is going to buy Mogstation prizes for people. All of us who operate the community do so on a voluntary basis.
[caption id="attachment_219700" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Shio[/caption]
How do you feel personally about the response you received from the wider FFXIV community?
I feel very grateful that there was interest and that people are willing to bring their immense talent and obvious heart and care to the community. Sometimes people tell me that I did a great job, but I definitely want to emphasize that it is a collective effort and that it is really the great people who seem to be drawn to screenshot art who make it what it is. In my experience, there are a lot of gaming communities that can get sour very quickly and very cynical about the state of the game they are playing, but we rarely see this attitude in our server. Most people are very encouraging and loving, and it is no wonder that people are so active and engaged with it.
Do others help you run the community, if so, what sort of tasks does this require?
I have two others who occupy the "Senpai" role, which is the administrator role. Basically, we monitor the channels to make sure people are being civil and following the server guidelines, and we also talk a lot behind the scenes about operations, whether it is the organization of channels or events. We also try to come up with solutions upon which we can all agree when problems arise. One of the issues, in the beginning, was that I was generally seen as the sole organizer of the community, and I am not always going to make the best decisions. I feel like sharing this responsibility with others helps me to feel more at ease, and I feel more confident that we can come up with better solutions together. The idol role also comes with some minor administrator privileges. In order for someone to become a member of the server, they have to make an introduction post, and the idols have the ability to convert that person into a member and adjust their display name. They also do a lot to help answer questions and guide people whether it involves the use of the server or social media or different photo tools and techniques. They have really come up with a lot of great resources and help for people that have technical issues or want to learn new techniques.
[caption id="attachment_219703" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Rilas[/caption]
How do you manage to keep up with all the chat, posts and members?
I have Discord on my phone and on my PC, so I try to look at all of the channels as they light up throughout the day. Sometimes if I am busy I may just scan some of the text if there is a lot of it, but generally, I can get the gist of a conversation and its direction very quickly. I also try to make myself available through private message so that people can report issues to me that I may not see right away.
How much of your time per week does running the community take?
It's hard to answer this because EGI is kind of laced through all of my activities every day. I could tell you that on average that time adds up to two or three hours a day, but I don't sit down with one block of time and go through it all at once. It is a constant companion to me every day.
How do you deal with the stresses of running such a large community?
Inviting two other people to help administer things made a huge difference. However, I do still feel stress, so sometimes I have to put my phone away or close Discord for a couple of hours and just do my own thing. I obviously play games too, so I might silence the server during the time that I am playing, but also I find that taking my own screenshots and getting creative tends to relax me and make me feel better when stress comes, whether it is from EGI or the world outside of gaming.
If someone was hoping to create a community such as yours, what advice or tips would you give them?
Well, I would advise them to join ours and help improve it and contribute their skills to our community. If it was something outside of screenshot art, however, I would advise them to make sure to find other people with whom they can share the tasks and responsibilities and be prepared to make mistakes and own up to them quickly. If someone gets upset or offended, it is important not to take it personally and take the time to listen to others' concerns. I think you need a tremendous amount of empathy to administer a community such as this. This is especially true for EGI because we are dealing with people's art, which directly expresses their personal feelings and personas.
[caption id="attachment_219717" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Trevettina[/caption]
Is there anything you would like to add?
I'd like to say thank you for shining the spotlight on us and taking the time to learn more about our community. We love having new people join us, so I hope people read this and get inspired to be artistic and bring their artistic talents to our community. In my opinion, you only really improve your skills when you are among your peers. No one gets ideas out of thin air. It is all a mesh-work of ideas that get passed around and tweaked and improved. Don't be afraid to join us; we won't bite you!
I'd like to say a huge thank you to Sophia for making the time to take part in the Community Spotlight and allowing us to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of the EGI community. Also, I'd like to express my gratitude to all the leaders and those who make so much effort to keep the community running, and also to those who kindly allowed me to use their screenshots for this article! On a personal note, I've been part of the EGI community for some months now and it's been a joy to see so many building new friendships and enjoying a love for screenshot photography. I look forward to seeing many more good things to come for EGI! Thank you, Sophia and all at EGI!
[caption id="attachment_219718" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Image credit: Vinncent[/caption]