Mojang’s employees often don’t get the recognition that they deserve. They work hard to balance creating a game that millions of players of all ages can enjoy, with making it sustainable and relevant with each new update.
NOTE: This article was written on my old website and moved here. Since this was published, I had the pleasure of interviewing HelenAngel on The Void Frogs Podcast, which I’d love for you to watch.
Few people know the efforts needed to find that balance like the Minecraft Community Managers, who work tirelessly, at all hours, to respond to countless Minecraft fans on YouTube, Email, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, live streams, and various official Minecraft websites.
Amongst those Community Managers, one stands out as being consistently on the front lines of the action. She defends against trolls and bad actors in the community. She reaches out to young creators and encourages them to keep working hard. She genuinely gets excited about seeing how people use the game to bring their dreams and visions to life.
And today is her birthday.
Her name is Helen “Angel” Zbihlyj, and we’d like to take a moment to celebrate her accomplishments on the Minecraft Community Manager team over the past year with all of you. But first, a birthday request from Helen.
Could you all pretty please do me a birthday favor & take this poll on the #Minecraft Village & Pillage update? It only takes a minute & will help us make Minecraft better. Please help get the word out & take a slice of virtual squid milk cake too! 😄🍰https://t.co/IQMWpnHBxd
— Helen 🦑🥛🎂 for everyone! (@HelenAngel) May 30, 2019
Streaming Like A Baws
Did you know that there are Official Minecraft Livestreams 5 days a week? Can you imagine being as much of a baws as HelenAngel, running around the community and seemingly being everywhere at all times, and still having time to stream?
That’s what she does, and you can catch her on Mixer, Twitch, and YouTube randomly through the week when there’s a live stream happening. Having joined in these live streams ourselves, we can say that they are great fun! Helen and her co-hosts talk with the chat on all three services in real time, they answer questions (from personal questions about themselves to behind-the-scenes info about the game), show off people’s maps and mini-games, goof around, and sometimes they have guests on, too.
These streams are just an awesome time and it’s great to be able to chat directly with Helen about pretty much anything. If you doubted whether her interest in the community is genuine because you can’t read her tone in text messages she often shares, you can definitely see it when she’s streaming.
BUT she doesn’t just stream on the Official Minecraft channels. Sometimes you can even catch her on Periscope/Twitter streaming different community-related events like Minefaire, the Creator’s Summit, and more. She’s seriously dedicated to sharing her experiences with fans of the game in real time, and we love that about her.
Minecraft Creators Conference – Da Partayyyy https://t.co/HfkM3AvflW
— Helen 🦑🥛🎂 for everyone! (@HelenAngel) May 24, 2019
If you look through @HelenAngel‘s Twitter replies, you’ll quickly see that her love of the game is only matched by her love of hugs. Unlike some Community Managers for other companies, Mojangsters are active in paying attention to their players and fans, and Helen echoes that perfectly. Over and over and over again you’ll see her replying to someone she may barely even know, or even just “met” in that tweet, with a virtual hug being sent their way to cheer them up and let them know they are noticed and cared for.
Virtual hug for the real human being behind this account. Love from a fellow community manager 💜 pic.twitter.com/AnCRFZVAZS
— Helen 🦑🥛🎂 for everyone! (@HelenAngel) February 4, 2019
Oh Squid Milk, we hardly know you. Yet Helen loves you like you are one of her own.
During the Java 1.14 snapshot phase, an old idea was brought up again that Helen suction-cupped onto and won’t loosen her grip from. The #BringBackSquidMilk hashtag was born with Helen at the helm, and a movement was started to make squids milkable again. Yes… it is as strange as it sounds, but sometimes it’s the strange things that give us the drive to keep pressing on.
— Nathan Adams (@Dinnerbone) March 19, 2019
If you didn’t know, back in 2011 it was possible to milk a squid. If you managed to get a squid landlocked, you could right-click it with an empty bucket and get milk. This was obviously not intentional, since squids aren’t known to have clean, drinkable, white milk, and a fix was implemented that removed squid milk from the game entirely.
That is, until modders and plugin developers created ways to bring back squid milk. As much as people keep telling Helen, “No”, she is woman who stands by her convictions. To this day she continues to push forward a campaign to bring back squid milk. Who knows, maybe it will actually work some day. 😀
Who else remembers the wonderful feature (I refuse to call it a bug) of when squid could be milked like cows in Java Edition? (Yes, I made that label for my milk!) #BringBackSquidMilk pic.twitter.com/zMpcrnFofY
— Helen 🦑🥛🎂 for everyone! (@HelenAngel) March 19, 2019
She Takes Action
Helen is not the type of person who only cares about the game, though. She has also regularly shown that she cares about people in general. Of course, you may have already picked up on that with the point above about how she sends virtual hugs to strangers, even when it’s her day off or it’s late at night, but she does more than just tweet.
She takes action. Back in April of last year, she got her walking shoes on and took a day to raise awareness and money at the All in for Autism 5K Walk. She has also been outspoken about other health issues that different people struggle with, including her own battles, proving that she has a heart of gold.
— Helen 🦑🥛🎂 for everyone! (@HelenAngel) April 29, 2018
HelenAngel is Our Golden Apple
There are not enough props that can be given to someone who is such a hard worker, cares for even the smallest members of her community, is fun and goofy when she can be, defends against bad actors, and genuinely wants to hear what her players have to say. HelenAngel is the Golden Apple that replenishes the community’s energy, gives an extra layer of defense against baddies, and is always around to give a helping hand.
Happy Birthday, Helen! May your day be beautiful and full of fun, and your upcoming year bring memories you’ll cherish forever. #BringBackSquidMilk