To explore this career, make sure to cultivate a love of video games and technology in general. Many schools and communities host computer science clubs that have special chapters catering to avid gamers. If you cannot find such a club, start one with your friends. Schedule tournaments, discuss the best and worst games you've discovered, and think about what makes a game fly off the shelves. This is what a producer has to worry about every day at the office, while still maintaining a passion for playing.
Learn more about the industry and its employers by visiting the Web site of E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (http://www.e3insider.com), an annual trade show for computer and video game manufacturers from around the world. The show is closed to the public but the site will give you an idea of the different types of video game companies.
Producers oversee and manage the development of video games and computer games. They do not generally handle the technical aspects of projects, but they are responsible for coordination, management, and overall quality of the final product. At some companies, however, the producer will take on more technical duties, including serving as the lead designer. Most often, the producer is the liaison or "middle man" between the publisher and the game-development team.
Producers must have widely varied knowledge of all aspects of the computer and video game industry. Whether their background is in computers, business, or art, producers must efficiently manage all steps of the development process. They assist the game development staff in the licensing of software, artwork, sound, and other intellectual properties.
Producers have many administrative duties, including scheduling meetings and managing documentation. They are also responsible for general business management duties, including hiring and firing of staff. It is essential that producers are excellent communicators, as they work with and manage all different types of personalities. There are two very different sides to the video game industry—the business side and the creative side. Both executive, financial-minded professionals and creative, art-minded professionals must communicate their ideas to the producer, who is then responsible for collaborating these ideas effectively.
The highest-level producing job is that of the executive producer, or senior producer. This individual trains, mentors, and manages other producers. The executive producer resolves project conflicts, and may have extended contact with clients. In addition to overseeing all other producers and workers on a project, the executive producer is responsible for obtaining funding, updating clients on the progress of projects, and submitting the final work to the client for approval.
Directly under the executive producer are lead producers. These professionals have nontechnical duties, but still work closely with the development team. Lead producers oversee tasks including voiceovers, music, effects, and casting.
Associate producers' main responsibilities are overseeing research and product testing. They gather information for the development team, as well as manage video game testers. Associate producers also do more "busy work" such as making client deliveries and taking meeting notes. This may be an entry-level position. Associate producers may have authority over testers, but usually not over any other employees.
Assistant producers, which are also known as production assistants, serve as aides to higher-level producers. This occupation is a step toward becoming a producer, but assistants typically do not have much, if any, decision-making authority.