I get this question a LOT, mostly from relatives and friends, but a couple of times I also heard it from other team members (who probably were trying to mess up with me a little).
It’s a fair question, though. A programmer, programs. An artist, creates art. A game designer… well, designs the game. So.. what does a Game Producer really DO? (and why do I keep writing ‘Producer’ with a capital P?)
In general terms, a Game Producer is akin to a movie director or a TV producer: the one who owns the general vision and, at the same time, is responsible for keeping the message consistent across the areas.
Most of the times, a Game Producer must wear many hats, being the Project Manager hat one of the most common. This involves managing resources, planning and implementing processes that help to improve the workflow.
For example, when I was part of Three Melons, my job description included generating proposals for potential clients and being the point of contact for them once the project had been approved. Working at Playdom, in turn, demanded some deep content creation and game design skills, as we had to deliver a great game to millions of players. Those players needed new content regularly and a balanced experience that let them enjoy the game wether they paid or not.
However, one of the best definitions of the Game Producer role comes from the amazing Extra Credits team, which talks about core gaming subjects in a very accessible way. Here’s the video. Enjoy it!
UPDATE: I’m adding an interview to Ed Perkins, Lead Producer at NaturalMotion, in which he “describes what it takes to become a studio’s all-important production guru, overseeing how its projects go from concept to completion.” It can be useful for getting a more in-depth look at the Producer. Find it here!