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A Journey into Production: Part I

Part one of my journey into becoming an effective Producer. I break down who a Producer is using bullet points from "The Game Producer's Handbook" and summarize my own thoughts on each. This will be my foundation as I move forward in my career.

            I’ve been playing video games since as early as I can remember. For me, video games have been my life. At 13 years old, I decided that making them would forever be a part of my life and I wanted to explore the possibilities of that. I’m going to skip the entire backstory of my life however and jump right into it. 

            At this point in my life I’d like to learn more about being an effective Producer.  Being enrolled at the University of Advancing Technology for a M.S. in Game Production and Management now offers me the ability to dive deeper into that field and learn new things that I haven’t had a chance to experience in my previous romps through game development. Right now I’m going to be working with a team of undergraduate students who have come together to create a game project. Once assigned to a team, I will be assisting as a Producer and helping to get the game released and into the hands of players. For the next few weeks, I will be posting a weekly blog documenting the journey, successes, failures, and anything else that comes to mind which I think would be interesting to share.

            As this is the first post that I’m creating, I feel that laying down the foundation for being a Producer is important to get right. This week I had the chance to read through the first chapter of “The Game Producer's Handbook” and they give a pretty good rundown of who the Producer is. I feel that this is a very good foundation to flow from and I’m going to expand on each bullet point that’s listed in this chapter. So here it goes.

 

The Producer’s primary focus is on the delivery of the video game as a completed project.

This is pretty much the overall encompassing factor for a Producer. Their job is to make sure that the video game is completed to the fullest extent and delivered to the public as originally intended. I don’t think this can become any clearer so I’ll move on to the next point.

 

The Producer knows every person on the team by his or her first name.

Although some may not find this is a vital piece to being a Producer, I honestly think that it’s one of the most important. Being a Producer places you into a leadership role where you have people who look towards you for guidance and mentorship. In the military, we learned that taking care of your subordinates is imperative for mission success. This is no different. Show your team that you truly care about them, their well-being, and their overall morale. Ultimately it will lead to more efficient production and the first step to this is by knowing everyone’s first name.

 

The Producer works late with the team and is available to provide guidance whenever necessary, any time, day or night.

Going back to being a leader, the Producer should always lead from the front, as we say in the military. Showing the team that you are there for them, dedicated, and available to go through any issue that may arise with them is important and can make a world of difference.

 

The Producer clearly communicates with anyone who can affect the game, positively or negatively, as it is the game producer’s responsibility to bring everyone into the fold of game production.

To me, this is like being Grand Central. Everyone pretty much connects through the Producer and the Producer needs to ensure that proper communication flows freely between all the departments. This could be from the QA team, all the way up to the Chiefs. Lack of communication can be the death of any kind of project.

 

The Producer runs interference with anyone who can affect the game or otherwise sidetrack the product.

This goes back to the first bullet. The Producer needs to focus on the delivery of a finished video game and that includes making sure to rid any elements that could hinder that. There’s no question that things will come up and try to deter the completion of a game, so the Producer needs to be placed in front of the team to divert anyone away before they could bring harm to the product.

 

The Producer does everything possible to sell, promote, and protect the game and the team.

Getting the game released and into the hands of players is what the Producer should be aiming at. This means whatever marketing, advertising, or networking skills the Producer has will all be utilized here. Any and all things should be considered here, whether it’s posting on forums or demoing the game on the floor of conventions. Making sure the game and team are taken care of is a major directive.

 

The Producer has the complete confidence that he or she can cross any obstacle and face any challenge.

Confidence is a major role in being a leader. Since you have so many people who look towards you for guidance and mentorship, the Producer must show that he or she has confidence in the decisions that they make. Often times there will be obstacles blocking a path and the Producer may find that they need to make a quick decision on the fly. Having the confidence to make that decision without second guessing it will definitely provide the rest of the team with confidence as well.

 

The Producer does whatever it takes to help the team deliver the game.

This is it, plain and simple. Whatever the team needs from the Producer, they should be up for the task. This could be from design help, to art/programming assistance, ordering pizza for a late night work session, and etc. The Producer will be there to ensure whatever needs to get done, gets done even if that means they have to do it themselves.

 

For me, this is a very solid outlook on who the Producer is and what I will be referring to in the next few weeks as I join a UAT Game Studio team to help bring their product to the masses. So until next week, happy gaming!

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