Chris Erb: From UW Tacoma to taking the gaming industry by storm

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“If you work hard and show value, good things will happen.”

Chris Erb graduated from UW Tacoma's business administration program in 1996, years before the endowment and inception of the Milgard School of Business in 2003. He reaps the rewards of hard work, dedication, and self-belief. Throughout his impressive professional journey, Chris attributes his career success to building a personal brand and doing work that he’s truly passionate about.

Chris was a Federal Way native and graduated high school with a 2.0 GPA. He eventually furthered his education at Highline Community College in Des Moines, WA. The turn-around in his academic career came as he graduated from Highline with honors. After graduating, Chris knew he had to pursue a bachelor’s. He always wanted to go to the University of Washington, but he had a desire to remain local. UW Tacoma had just opened around this time, making the newly established campus a no-brainer based on convenience and location. While studying business at UW Tacoma, Chris simultaneously managed the visiting club house for the Seattle Mariners. During this time, Chris resided in Federal Way and commuted to Seattle during baseball season. This deemed Tacoma as the ideal place for him, as he also saw great value in attaining a UW degree. Chris went on to graduate in 1996 with a bachelor of arts in business administration.

After graduating from UW Tacoma, Chris landed his first job out of college as the head of marketing for the downtown Seattle video-game arcade, Gameworks. Chris dedicated roughly two years at Gameworks until being recruited to Wizards of the Coast, the Renton-based organization that specializes in physical interactive games such as Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and Dungeons and Dragons. Starting his role as the head of promotions for Wizards, Chris worked his way to become the head of marketing after 5-6 years.

Chris in front of Halo Fest art, an annual festival held at PAX by 343 Industries

Looking back at his career, Chris admits he didn’t know what he wanted to do at first. He concluded the most beneficial move for his career was to touch various disciplines; and he did well in that case. Gameworks gave Chris great exposure to venue-based marketing, while Wizards of the Coast enabled him to dive into the promotional side of marketing. After his time at Wizards, Chris was recruited to EA, where he would find himself essentially running EA Sports for the next decade. The first position that Chris acquired within EA was to take the promotional and marketing lead for Madden Football. He ran the franchise for five years. After his work with Madden, Chris saw a promotion that allowed him to oversee EA Sports' brand, promotions, partnership, and marketing for the next five years. With a decade of experience working with EA, Chris was able to garner a wide array of experience, from product management to brand management.

After some time in the workforce, Chris and his wife had twin boys, and decided to move out of Florida to the East Coast, where he then would be recruited by Legendary pictures. Chris was head of marketing for a year as the company transitioned from Warner to Universal Pictures. At this point, Chris identified an opportunity in the gaming industry, noticing that there was a limited amount of marketing agencies that existed in the space when compared to the movie business. Three years later, Chris took the leap and started TripleClix, a marketing agency made specifically for gaming studios. Fast forward to today, TripleClix has captured retainer clients such as Microsoft, Google, Blizzard, Sega, and Wizards of the Coast. Chris currently manages lifestyle and partnership marketing for these firms, and also works with well-known brands such as Kellogg's, General Mills, McDonalds, and Taco Bell. Chris highlighted that the purpose of TripleClix is to help bring these previously mentioned partners into the gaming arena. Today, Chris operates both sides of the spectrum. From a product standpoint, he helps the company acquire and develop partnerships. From the partnership side, Chris aims to translate brands authentically into the gaming space. Chris highlights the love he has for his work, specifically interacting with the business world. Chris reveals that companies often come to him to understand the gaming space and connect with consumers more effectively. TripleClix currently has roughly a dozen employees, but the unique nature of the organization comes from its self-funding origins, courtesy of Erb himself. When TripleClix was founded, there was no capital venture or loans. Rather, the company was built from the ground up, which gives the organization flexibility and power within the space. 

Chris accepting the VGA award with Matt Leinard

Through his professional journey, Chris acknowledged that there were people that he didn’t like, but he loved his work so much that he powered through the adversity. Chris stresses that it’s not so much about getting to the CEO level, rather it's about enjoying the professional journey along the way. Chris urges those beginning their professional journey to “enjoy every step of where you are.” Chris revealed that he had no interest in owning his own business, nor did he foresee obtaining a vice president role when he first started his career. However, Chris now owns his own marketing firm and works with some of the largest companies in the world. “Find a job in the space that you love, keep your head down, focus, and all kinds of doors will open,” Chris suggests to students. “You have to put your head down and focus, don’t worry about too many things. If you’re 20 years old, you have 60 years of work ahead of you. Don’t worry about anything, just go. Just experience everything, you won’t know what you like if you don’t.” Chris remembers the time when he wondered how he was going afford car payments. Chris’s best advice is to approach life step-by-step, and to simply figure it out when you get there. Chris reminds students that while there may be challenges along the way, powering through them and being professional is key. Chris emphasizes that there are 1000 opportunities in the world, yet the most important thing is to enjoy what you do for a living.

When asked what advice he would give to students today, Chris stated, “You’re going to work, 50 percent of your life most likely. Do stuff that you love.” Chris stressed that he pursued a career in entertainment because he had always loved entertainment. Chris continued, “Make sure you’re chasing what you want to go after, don’t feel pressured. For the first few years, go get your experience and get into the space you want to get in... Work in the industry you want to work in and build from there.” For the roles that he has landed, and the success he’s achieved throughout his journey, Chris credits the personal brand that he built, stemming from his college career. “It’s much easier now than before,” Chris stated regarding one’s ability to build a personal brand. Chris highlighted that in the past, there was no social media to leverage. Chris went about building relationships with as many people as he possibly could. Every position, every job that Chris took, he claimed that he put his head down and worked extremely hard. Chris mentions that he never once in his life asked for a raise. Instead, Chris argues, “if you work hard and show value, good things will happen”. Ultimately, Chris encourages students to “work your tail off, and make sure you’re building a personal brand. Leverage technology and the tools out there to build yourself a brand and make people want to hire you. Leverage social media and make sure you’re building an identity and brand to show employers what their getting.”

Chris Erb will be presenting as a guest speaker at the Milgard Success Center’s "Success Conference" on August 28th here at UW Tacoma! Stay tuned for more details at tacoma.uw.edu/business and follow us @MilgardUWT

 

Written by: 
Trevor Nhan, Edited by Shane Benoit / May 15, 2018
Media contact: 

Shane Benoit

sbenoit@uw.edu