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David Archer

How to move into game production

3 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

We'll start with this: I love video games. Every day I play video games, and I can't deny my passion for the indie scene. I avidly take in information from all angles: from Extra Credits to GameDev.net. I even spent four years at University studying a degree in Japanese language & Business systems in order to get into the industry. Currently, in my 'day job' I own and run a website and marketing consultancy in the UK.
 
I started professional work as a web developer and had done that for the best part of 4 years, but I realised at the end of 2011 that my strengths were in the more creative and management side of things. Therefore, even though I do a few hours of C# coding each week, the majority of my work is on UI's, sales and funding pitches, technical and creative documents, sales/brochure copy, poster/brochure/website design and - mostly - project management.
 
I've been doing this work for 18 months now, and with the 4 years of programming experience before that and 4 years business/Japanese before that, I do have some strong work experience. I've also started and sold 2 other companies in that time too, which has given me some incredible experience.
 
I've always wanted to move into the video game industry though. I know, it's something that every kid does, but I feel for the first time that I would have something to contribute. Now that I'm approaching 30, I feel that it's time to actually look in this direction. Obviously, as a coder, I'd done a few things but never really felt comfortable doing the harder physics engineering. When it comes to art, I can draw some and do a bit of 3D modelling, but not good enough to ever "go pro". I LOVE management work though, and getting the most out of a team - let alone shipping products on time and selling to rooms of buyers successfully - there's just nothing better in this world for me.
 
So, for those that have worked in the industry, I ask you: where do I go next? What's the bridging step from being a Web/Marketing agency manager to a video game producer? I've thought about trying to win larger contracts to develop games for clients (think utilities companies, major brands), but before I can entertain that fully I feel that I'm missing something in the game industry.
 
Any books, videos, training courses and advice are all greatly appreciated.
 
Cheers,
David.
Edited by Ratixis
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Moving to the "Breaking In" forum.

 

Since the "producer" job title is usually reserved for those with several years of experience inside the industry, focus your search on associate producer jobs.  You might get lucky and find a company to hire you based on your experience outside the industry, but I wouldn't gamble on it.

 

The jobs are fairly uncommon; Gamasutra's job boards currently shows seven such job openings in recent months, none in the UK.

 

Unfortunately for you the position is low demand with high supply. You'll need to be in the right place at the right time. They'll need to be local since it is very unlikely they'll bother with relocation. Probably the best route would be to cultivate friendships at multiple nearby game studios, make sure they know you are looking, make sure they want you, and patiently wait for an opening.

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You might get lucky and find a company to hire you based on your experience outside the industry, but I wouldn't gamble on it.

 

A few local "independant" studios used to hire a lot for these positions. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the worst moment to ask, its possible the slowest quarter of the year (generally where a lot of people just got laid off) and its also following the trend before a new console comes up. Things are running slow for many, thus, there are a lot of good candidates out there that'll probably beat you to each offer (between you and someone with a few years in the industry, HR will look no further).

In a few months however, things might look drastically different. You might look into independant studios and an associate producer job. That'd teach you the differences between how things work in the field you know, and how things work in the video game industry.

One thing is for sure, don't "buy everything you see". Just because one studio does it that way doesn't necessarily apply to all, even if you feel like its the only logical way it could get done.

For example, the RFP process, in my experience, is handled extremely differently from office to office. See what works for them, but remember what you already know, it might just as well apply in this case.

 

If you have the right mindset coming in, you'll probably succeed. My personal experience in this endaevour was merely to keep an open mind, embrace critic, and overall, just seek to learn more and make things always better. Coming from retail, that sort of made sense too. Now, you've obviously dealt with stakeholders. They'll come in different shape and form, but they'll still be stakeholders. Remember the "selling argument" part of your job, it DOES apply. In most places I've seen, politics are played differently, but they are still there. A Project Manager doesn't tend to survive the passing of projects unless he keeps informed with the greater picture.

 

Good luck!

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