Career Spotlight: Producers
04 / 25 / 18
Producers ensure that a project stays on track, which is no easy task! To successfully coordinate with everyone on their multi-disciplined team, they need to wear a lot of hats. We talked to Human Head Studios’ Amethyst Begley about the roles and responsibilities of producers in the games industry.
What Do Producers Do?
It’s a common misconception that production work mostly consists of logging and delegating tasks. While that is a very important part of the job, producers must also:
- maintain a high-level understanding of the project.
- work with leads and developers one-on-one to ensure an understanding of their needs, what scope they can work within, and what is being asked of them.
- communicate effectively with the client or publisher to ensure their vision is being achieved.
- maintain consistency of message.
- understand long-term repercussions that may be associated with any setbacks.
How Can I Become a Producer?
While the path to production varies from person-to-person, many begin from within the games industry as QA testers or programmers. Having experience with game studio workflows can be very helpful, but industry-specific experience isn’t always necessary. A lot of the skills that make someone a great producer can be picked up from a variety of different career fields. Before working at Human Head Studios, Amethyst’s experience was in art and multimedia production. Even though the end product was very different, many of the skills she learned transferred to her career in games.
What Skills are Most Important?
She recommends that those interested in production should practice the following skills:
- project management
- taking ownership
- risk assessment
- agile skill development
- communication (written and oral)
- articulating complex ideas
- developing emotional intelligence and empathy
Another crucial skill for producers is the ability to identify when a project stops running smoothly and enters “scope-creep” territory. “Scope-creep” can be defined as the alluring idea of adding something new to a project when there might not be enough time or resources to complete the tasks necessary to implement it. Recognizing this problem early on prevents lost time and resources, and it ensures that the needs of the developers remain in line with the needs of the project. This can be an interesting challenge, because the way that “scope-creep” manifests can vary between both projects and developers. Really getting to know the people on your team can help you make informed decisions about what is best for the project during development.
What Challenges do Producers Face?
For producers, success can be measured in many different ways. On a week-to-week basis, success often correlates with the completion of milestones. Not all successes are based on deliverables though – sometimes the feeling that a project is simply moving in a good direction can be a great measure of success. All of these smaller victories culminate in the ultimate sign of success on a project: the game’s release and critical reception.
What’s the Best Part of Production?
There are many aspects of production that Amethyst loves, including the countless ways that a producer can influence or contribute to a project. She feels that working on a diverse team means that you’re exposed to a lot of uniquely talented people. This means there are a lot of great opportunities to collaborate while learning new skills along the way!
While her experiences aren’t necessarily representative of all producer roles within the industry, practicing Amethyst’s recommended skills can help make you a better leader and a better developer.
For a more complete overview of roles within the industry, visit our Beginner’s Toolkit for Game Development.
We’ve included key skills and software for each role at the studio that can help you become the best developer you can be!