So you want to break into the video game industry (you want a game biz job). First, you have to know which type of job you want -- if you don't know which you want, you need to read about the game industry and the types of jobs in it. Then you might need to make a decision. Third, you need to be qualified for the job. Fourth, you need to know how to find information and how to ask good questions (you need to not ask bad questions). Finally, we have tips for getting the job.
For a long time, working on games has been a hobby of mine. I've always enjoyed the games, and the community that comes out of playing them. When I was in my senior year of high school, a group of my friends and I developed a fun, quirky idea for a multiplayer FPS Source mod based upon pulp science fiction of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
When I came onto the project, I had no skills other than a youthful enthusiasm to creatively add to one of my cherished communities. My friend Eric came up with the Game Design Doc, so he became the designer. Alan spent all day with the computer and had some cursory programing knowledge. Spenser had 3 months in the industry as an low level environment artist. And I had no skills, so I became the producer. Unfortunately, being a group of high school aged kids, we loved talking more than producing and 6 months later we all called it quits.
Two years past, I studied economics and finance in college and I still played with the idea of going into the industry. Spenser had stayed and was interested in starting an independent company eventually. He called me because he knew that I was a business major and we both knew that we balanced each other out. We agreed to work together to see if we could make it as independents. We started where we left off, changing the structure to more management roles as we tried to build connections and networks to create the game. It worked out better, we had a some concept work done and we flushed out a lot of game direction, but we didn't end up with a game.
One of the environment modelers we connected with, Jono Forbes, invited me to participate as a producer on his game. Needlemouse: The Emerald Hills has gone splendidly and we are roughly two weeks from our first beta release. Needlemouse is a reexamination of Sonic the Hedgehog through a Dali/Dr. Seuss artistic direction. We've had several ups and downs and we've pushed the release back several times, mainly because we think we can accomplish a lot more than we actually can in the allotted time. Call it youthful ambition.
I took my senior year of college off, I currently work for City Year, a national non profit thats under the umbrella of Americorps. I've always felt a need to serve my country, and in my position, I'm gaining valuable management experience. This year has allowed me to refocus and work on achieving entrance into the industry (aka a paying job). I plan on finishing my last year of college and then applying for work. I also hope to snag an internship next summer.
If you've read all this, thank you. I know I've rambled on, but its given me some sense of significance into the work I have done. I originally wrote this to ask a few questions:
"How do I become a producer?"
-I know that many become producers by going through QA, I'd really prefer to not go that route, I have a two solid years of management experience, a college degree and hopefully two finished independent games. I'm not saying I want to be an exec producer on a triple A title, but I'd like to actually be working as a producer.
"What skills should I have as a producer?"
-Obviously time and people management is useful, what should I learn as far as programming, art, design and other production skills and how in depth should I go? I know learning more is always better, but its a trade off between learning something excellently or learning something else functionally.
"Is there a website dedicated to producers?"
-There seems to be several forums dedicated to different technical aspects of the development community, and although being a producer is mainly about soft skills, I'd still like to have that support.
"What should I expect as far as the corporate ladder is concerned?"
-Ultimately, I want to build enough capital to be a venture capitalist/angel investor and a business consultant for start up development studios. Its always been my dream to help others reach theirs.
I have more questions, but its 4 am and I need a nap. Thank you again for reading and participating in this thread.
Hi Justin, I didn't read the first part of your post. I just skimmed quickly down to the questions:
>"How do I become a producer?" >-I know that many become producers by going through QA, I'd really prefer to not go that route
OK, you need a breaking in plan. What non-QA job can you use as your way of getting your foot in the door? Read these: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson7.htm http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson41.htm http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson10.htm http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson27.htm
And you need to live in a city where there are numerous game companies nearby. With your background being outside the game industry, you might be able to wangle your way in on a production track somehow, but not long-distance.
>"What skills should I have as a producer?" >-Obviously time and people management is useful, what should I learn as far as programming, art, design and other production skills and how in depth should I go?
What you mainly need is game industry experience, extensive game knowledge, a willingness to do whatever it takes to get a game done, and a thick skin. Read FAQ 42: http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson42.htm
>"What should I expect as far as the corporate ladder is concerned?" >-Ultimately, I want to build enough capital to be a venture capitalist/angel investor and a business consultant for start up development studios. Its always been my dream to help others reach theirs.
That's two different things you're talking about. The "corporate ladder" is one thing -- starting up your own company is another. You might want to read the chapter on Production in the book "Introduction to Game Development," and read the book "The Game Production Handbook."