Due to stay-at-home orders, people are spending a lot more time indoors. So, you many not be surprised that U.S. consumers spent 35 percent more money in March on video game-related purchases than during the same period last year.
Spending on video game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards totaled $1.6 billion for the month, according to market research by The NPD Group. That’s the highest amount in March in a dozen years.
The Brains Behind the Games
The industry develops games for computers, game consoles, mobile devices, and the internet. So, who’s calling the shots in the creation of video game? The producer!
A video game producer supervises game design projects. Their responsibilities include working with the creative and quality assurance teams and helping with the story design. The producer troublshoots any problems during production of the games.
“A video game producer is a project manager, so they’re responsible for creating milestones, schedules, budgets, tracking tasks, identifying dependencies between tasks and unblocking them, running meetings, and basically aligning team goals and priorities so that everyone’s working in the same direction.”
Kollgaard tells WorkingNation that having soft skills are also important for her job. “Interpersonal skills are also very important because you’re the one that is interacting with each team member and making sure that they’re supported.”
Getting Into the Industry
Video game producers commonly have a bachelor’s degree in game design, computer science, digital media, or business. Among the popular computer programming languages for video game development are C, C++, Assembly, Java, and Visual Basic. While college degrees are typical in the field, an associate degree in game design is available.
Kollgaard got her foot in the door by working in quality assurance, more commonly known as a tester. She says, as a tester, it helps to have a technical skill.
“You’re responsible for finding out what bugs exist, what the reproduction steps are so that they can be tracked. Sometimes you’re responsible for translating community issues so that we can figure out what’s actually happening. It’s also a part of the feedback loop, making sure that the game play is actually fun, making sure that what the game is accomplishing what the designer set out for it to be.”
Kollgaard notes that gaming industry is well-equipped to work from home. “Most of the things that we use in our process and pipeline are already digital, so things like repositories, which are where people store all of their code and work within the same game—that’s already digital. We already are very used to using chat programs and online virtual conferences for our meetings.”
Continued Growth in the Industry
“I love video games because it’s one of the most interactive forms of media,” says Kollgaard. She sees the industry continuing to grow, “We are always on the front lines for creating new technology.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the number of multimedia artists, which includes video game producers, is expected to grow by four percent from 2018 to 2028. The mean annual salary is $75,270, says the BLS. According to PayScale, the average salary for a video game producer in the U.S. is even higher, at $79,254.