To conclude this monograph on the roles in the video game industry, I thought I would leave two generic roles for the end, often indistinguishable from many people both outside and within the industry, which generally result in a bad reputation and a bad image negative about what they do but at the same time they are important pieces of the overall gear.

Who am I talking about? I’m talking about production and management. And now someone tell me what are the differences between production and management? A simple question that is difficult to answer outside Spain or in large companies, and difficult to answer in Spain or companies of the type that are prevalent in these countries: the micro-enterprise.

The producer

The production task by the producer plays a very important role in correctly defining the scope, qualities, times and budgets and reliably coordinating and tracking them to ensure that the video game comes out on time. of appropriate quality and within the budget defined for it. He’s a character who’s all-powerful in other industries like cinema, but in video games, in many situations, he’s the common enemy that all other characters come together with to face or evade his control, and that speaks for itself internal producers.

How does the internal producer work? Yes, it is the producer who is in control within the video game studio itself. There’s another producer that stirs up even more controversy, it’s the outside producer or editor/editor (for those lucky enough to have one) who in many situations is treated little less than being the victim of one contagious disease adds a profound lack of intelligence that is masked by a complete inability to understand what a video game is really about. Because only artists, animators, developers and others know for that. This role also creates a strong repulsive charge in the development team, as if it were the north and south poles of a magnet trying to repel each other.

kidding aside. The producer is a figure of vital importance to any video game development process, and whether internal or external, they should never be viewed as an enemy or an ignoramus, but rather ensure that their role and expectations complement those of the producer’s creative team, because one is a balance between idealism and realism, between making the best video game in the universe or making the video game that we can keep working with for years to come.

The producer is also able (if they let him) to optimize and enable the video game within, due to his overall view of all the processes, due to his ability to understand the different timelines and the financial flows that move within the project is executed in an acceptable manner according to the production guidelines set for it. Not letting him do his job, not respecting his guidelines or not giving him the right information can be a very important risk factor for any type of project, considering driving at 200 km/h on a mountain road at night and without light. The accident is served.

When a product says it doesn’t see any mechanics or that players won’t accept a video game functionality, it doesn’t do so because it believes that doing so will prematurely annoy the programmer, but because, in its experience, it believes that the player will not understand these characteristics and that misunderstandings will cause complaints and negative criticism.

In a recent experience, which I will not name, I rarely mediated a heated discussion between the editor’s developer and producer. The producer saw that a shot mechanic would not be viewed well by the players who would not understand it, because although it appeared to hit the enemy, there was a routine that calculated a success or failure factor for the shot, without yielding any visual reference for it. With the developer holding the key to what can or cannot be done, the game continued the way the developer wanted, only to find months later player criticism of that very functionality.

Also, that’s not to say that the producer is an angel misunderstood and sidelined by malicious development teams whose sole purpose in life is to harass the poor and innocent producers. Being a producer requires very demanding technical and personal skills, to be able to accurately cope with all the highly responsible problems associated with leading teams of people (with heterogeneous tastes and expectations), the calculation of time and financial resources to control well and have a strong video game culture, both visual and creative, and why not, of their own development, to establish communication links with the different teams that make up the video game production. Finally, you have good taste and common sense coupled with dynamism to calmly face any unforeseen events (and there are many) that can arise during the months-long production of a video game.

And apart from that, it almost seems as if we are talking about one of the managers of a video game company: a general manager, or a marketing or sales manager, or why not a communications manager, almost all of which are the object of even greater suspicion on the part of the teams than the producer self.

Here I felt that distance to the management teams very much in my own skin, as if they were practically invading aliens from Mars coming to control the bodies and minds of the development teams. The common clue is that they know nothing about video games in general and therefore anything they say about what the market wants or what a publisher wants is an incorrect view caused by ignorance of the reality of the industry as well as by the editorial staff . Or two for one.

How to become a video game producer

In general, the producer usually comes from the QA industry (Quality Assurance, Quality Control) or better known as testers, who, by the characteristics of their tasks, are to manage the resolution of transversal errors in the video game (art, design, programming, animation, etc.). able to acquire, over time, a very consistent and consolidated vocabulary among the different groups, and also due to the characteristics of time control, they gain this experience in controlling the times and resources required for their solution. Just as there are facilities for reaching out to producers, it is not uncommon for producers to reach out to CEOs of companies using the same rules mentioned earlier.

In honor of Iwata

Manager

Regardless of the level they are at in a video game studio, managers are tasked with sourcing the necessary resources and contacts for the video game to become a reality. This is a general manager who is responsible for ensuring that developers, artists, animators, etc. are available in the company so that they can be assigned to a project and the producer has the responsibility of managing them in the production of the video game. The manager is the one who has to seek financing from investors, banks or publishers (more and more difficult today) to pay day by day, week by week, month by month the salaries of the professionals who have to devote themselves to the development of the video game in an efficient manner and ensure that those who are not doing so efficiently or are not required are on another project or, if not required by the company, stop collaborating.

Failure to do this management can have fatal consequences for a video game project since the budgets we have for development are very tight. A single person doing nothing for a few months because they are not needed on a project can mean thousands of dollars in additional costs that are difficult to recoup later to balance the project. If it’s not balanced, the company can get to the end of the month without being able to pay part of its payroll, or face operating expenses that it can’t survive without.

The same concept can be extended to rent payments, taxes, interest, an endless number of factors that a company’s managers must pay maximum attention to, to the point of punishment for consequences that in many cases can mean the death of a company.

What profiles do we find in management?

Again, it depends on the size of each company, and the most common thing is that in a small company, the founder of the company additionally acts as CEO/GM/Financial Director/Marketing-Sales Director as mentioned in other articles, including the one about Game Designer 😉 As the company grows, it is normal for the CEO/GM to be decoupled from the other positions.

  • CEO/General Manager: must define the company’s strategy, identify business risks, anticipate change and find the resources to run the company. It doesn’t always have to be money, it can be a collaboration in exchange for experience or a partnership or a share in the profits of royalties. It depends a bit on the size and strength of the development company/group and its growth status.
  • Financial Management: In a small business there will not be a Finance Director role as this work is likely to be done by an agency responsible for giving a little control over…