Game Producer, the Jack of All Trades?
What is a game producer?
Well, a game producer is like a Jack of all trades. We are into everything that the production needs in order to ship a game!
This was the sort of answer I used to deliver when asked the question, “What is a game producer?”
Why? Because it’s easier to convey the otherwise complicated job, into a single phrase that anyone from within or outside the industry can easily digest. I am however now going to propose an alternative to this phrase with a more precise & short description of what a game producer does.
Is Jack of all trades good or bad?
The phrase originated in the form of ‘jack of all trades’ by Robert Greene in 1592 to dismiss William Shakespeare, who was an actor turned scriptwriter. It was used randomly as a form of praise by the 17th century, until the term ‘master of none’ was attached to it.
Here we go, the attachment ‘MASTER OF NONE’ sort of provided a negative connotation to the phrase. Regardless of the negative undertones of the phrase, the positive outlook for this is
Jack of all trades is someone who will show good adaptability and flexibility as they are suitable to take care of a wide range of situations and jobs effectively.
Future leaders, someone who knows almost every aspect of the business, can be a good leader in the future.
Being set to focus on multiple areas and skill sets, they go through numerous learning processes of different levels.
These are essential qualities a game producer should have in order to run the show effortlessly. But this doesn’t mean the producer shouldn’t be a “Master of None.”
That is where the contradiction begins and this is what I am trying to solve here.
A game producer's role differs from organization to organization and team to team. The proficiency of the skill required in a particular team/organization will also vary.
For example, While a liveops producer's work involves more firefighting and quick decision making, a product producer will be more focused on the product KPIs or specific KPIs. While the liveops producer has to have sharp decision skills to fight a fire, the product producer will be more focused on improving his scheduling skills. At the same time, a liveops producer will also have to face a scheduling challenge, and the product producer might face quick decision-making situations. Their mastery in their respective fields of work give them immense confidence and hunger to learn more and more.
These unique components are not enough to define the producers role. We need to include the skills that will be consistent for any type of producer, no matter what kind of environment they are performing in: The Product, The People, and The Process.
The primary responsibility of the producer is to facilitate the team to achieve their product goal. To do so, the producer should be having a profound knowledge of the product & excellent chemistry with the team. This knowledge and understanding will help the producer to come up with a comprehensive process that is suitable for the team and their product goals.
I would suggest describing a producer's role to be more on the lines of taking responsibility than of having a unique skill or a combination of skills.
To conclude, when asked what a game producer does, we can give something on these lines.
A game producer is a facilitator of the team who helps to achieve their product goals.