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Game producer

From Academic Kids

A game producer is the person in charge of overseeing development of a video or computer game.

Types of producers

Most video and computer games are developed by third-party developers. In these cases, there may be external and internal producers. External producers may act as "executive producers" and are employed by the game's publisher. Internal producer work for the developer itself and have more of a hands-on role. Some game developers may have no internal producers, however, and may rely solely on the publisher's producer.

For an external producer, their job responsibilities may focus mainly on overseeing several projects being worked on by a number of developers. While keeping updated on the progress of the games being developed externally, they inform the upper management of the publisher of the status of the pending projects and any problems they may be experiencing. If a publisher's producer is overseeing a game being developed internally, their role is more akin to that of an internal producer and will generally only work on one game or a few small games.

Responsibilities

An internal producer is heavily involved in the development of, usually, a single game. Responsibilities for this position vary from company to company, but in general, the person in this position has the following duties:

  • Negotiating contracts, including licensing deals
  • Acting as a liaison between the development staff and the upper stakeholders (publisher or executive staff)
  • Developing and maintaining schedules and budgets
  • Overseeing creative (art & design) and technical development (game programming) of the game
  • Ensuring timely delivery of deliverables (such as milestones)
  • Scheduling timely quality assurance (testing)
  • Arranging for beta testing and focus groups, if applicable
  • Arranging for localization

In short, the internal producer is ultimately responsible for timely delivery of the game.

For small games, the producer may interact directly with the programming and creative staff. For larger games, the producer will seek the assistance of the lead programmer, art lead, game designer and testing lead. While it is customary for the producer to meet with the entire development staff from time to time, for larger games, they will only meet with the leads on a regular basis to keep updated on the development status.

For most games, the producer has a large role in the development of the game design. While not a game designer, the producer has to weave the wishes of the publisher or upper management into the design. They usually seek the assistance of the game designer in this effort. So the final game design is a result of a cooperative effort of the designer and the producer.

In general, the producer is not the "boss" of the people on the game development team, but the "boss" of the game. So while a programmer may answer to a programming director, where matters of the game are involved, they answer to the producer. Producers may issue reprimands or issue accolades, but usually the fate of the developer's employment is not in the hands of the producer. So while they may recommend termination or promotions of certain employees, the producer normally cannot fire or promote team members single-handedly.

See also: Game Developer Magazine, Gamasutra, video game industry

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