How to Be a Video Game Producer

The video game industry has been the most profitable entertainment sector for decades, but it’s still difficult to break into as an independent creator. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can start producing your own games and get recognized by publishers

The “video game producer salary” is one of the most important jobs in the gaming industry. The job has a lot of responsibility, and can be very rewarding. To become a video game producer, you need to have an understanding of what it takes to make games. You also need to know how to work with people, and manage your time effectively.

John Williamson standing outside in winter season.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

If you haven’t played a video game since PacMan, you will be astounded by how complex today’s games are. Each is similar to a lengthy film, but one that unfolds differently based on the user’s choices. Complex plots, genuine people, and engrossing surroundings are all present. And that’s merely the setting for the enthralling game. Working on video games is one of the most creative careers available due to the mix of game, narrative, and art. John E. Williamson works as a video game producer at Zombie Studios, where he oversees all parts of creating a new universe. The work isn’t all fun and games, as we’ll see, but it’s still fairly amazing.

1.Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.

First and foremost, this is a fantastic website. There are plenty amusing articles.

I’m John E. Williamson, and I’d want to introduce myself. I’m a game producer, writer, and designer. I’m 47 years old, which puts me at number 123 in the games industry. I work and reside in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It’s the only location I’ve ever returned on purpose. As a result of my father’s military service, I’ve lived in or visited all 50 states.

For the last 20 years, I’ve been creating games and simulations. Spec Ops, America’s Army, SAW, Rainbow Six, Delta Force, Shadow Ops, Disney’s Atlantis, and many more are among the games on which I’ve worked. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in experimental psychology. I was on my way to the academic treadmill of publish or perish when I became diverted by Virtual Reality and 3D computer graphics for the military, which developed into producing “pure” games roughly 15 years ago. Though it is now feasible to get tenure through studying games and simulations.

My primary role is that of a producer, which entails guiding the game from start to finish using three key tools: communication, filling in, and triage.

Ensure that everyone is on the same page via communication. The finest tool is a plethora of comprehensive lists that everyone signs off on. My days are sometimes spent just ensuring that colleagues sitting at adjacent desks are working on the same solution to the same issue.

Filling in: If we are shorthanded, the producer should be able to fill in or find someone to do so. I produced 3D models and textures, planned the menu and interface, developed and constructed the missions, wrote the manual, wrote, edited, and directed the videos, and even performed some voice acting on my first few games, in addition to my work as a producer. That was back in the day.

Triage: Ensuring that everyone is focused on the most critical tasks. Month to month, what’s essential changes. A crucial talent is the capacity to predict what will be significant next month. I’ve never had a game canceled by a publisher in my 15 years, yet about 60% of my games have sold well enough to merit a sequel. “There are two sorts of games,” to put it another way. Games that are perfect and games that ship.”


2. What made you desire to work in the video game industry? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

I work on video games because I like them and am decent at developing them. At night and on weekends, I used to do what I’m doing today for free, producing modifications for retail games.

I knew what I wanted to do since I was a child, but it took the rest of the world a long time to catch up and make game creation a realistic career. One of my earliest computer gaming experiences was playing Trek at the university, thanks to my parents’ efforts to widen my education. In the good old days, we had to trek uphill both ways in the snow to get there and back; there were no monitors. Every step produced a piece of paper containing your findings. Take a look at these next-generation polygons… The snow, however, is the only component of this narrative that isn’t real.

Star print program illustration.

When compared to the most recent game that my team and I completed, SAW II: Flesh and Blood:

Man fighting in video game illustration.

3. What should a guy do to prepare for a career as a video game creator, producer, or writer? Is this something you could study in school, and if so, would you suggest it?

First and foremost, being a guy gives you an advantage. The industry is still dominated by men. That is changing, but at a glacial pace.

You can get a two-year or four-year degree in gaming by going to school. Digipen, Full Sail, and SMU GuildHall all feature excellent programs in a variety of fields, including programming, animation, and art.

If you have the opportunity, I would suggest pursuing a degree from a typical four-year institution. Preferably in one of those “legitimate” majors that your parents would be proud of.

You’re unlikely to leave the game industry. You’ll probably do it for 5 years or less before moving on to anything new. It’s a difficult and stressful job. A more conventional degree could help you make the shift.

This used to strike me as a particularly dismal number, but it turns out it is very frequent. Even the majority of instructors change careers after 5 years, and it’s not like they don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher. They’ve been teaching for 17-18 years if you count pre-k and Kindergarten, they’ve taken teaching courses, and they’ve even practiced teaching for years, yet most first-year teachers are still not teaching 5 years later.

4. What is it like to work in the video game industry? Do you work for a firm or do you freelance and aim to get projects on a project-by-project basis?

There are several opportunities to work in the sector. Each has its own set of perks and drawbacks, as well as a cost/benefit analysis. Every 3-5 years, each seems to go out of favor. You may work for a publisher directly, freelancing, via a temp agency, for an independent developer, or for yourself as a developer.


I work in a studio that is self-contained. Publishers encouraged us to utilize our own technology when we first started out because they wanted unique material. This still happens, but nowadays, publishers are more concerned about minimizing risk. As a result, people favor well-known brands and tried-and-true technology (UE3, Source Engine, etc.). We sometimes submit unique concepts; more recently, we’ve been given a project to bid on, and we’re up against other indie studios.

5. Is the video game industry competitive? What distinguishes a job applicant from the competition?

The video game industry is very competitive. This is especially true in the present economic situation, and this is after the sector became more competitive after becoming global.

If I have two equally qualified applicants in front of me, one with a college diploma and the other without, I will always choose the one with the diploma. It demonstrates your capacity to be punctual and committed, even when you don’t want to. Two abilities that are often overlooked.

Programming is still the simplest/safest path into gaming, as it pays the most and often offers the greatest career stability. Another way in is to use our tech to create a mod or even your own game. Having something practical to demonstrate can help you get an interview. Portal began as a mod, and now it’s a full-fledged game.

It’s also crucial to have excellent communication abilities. You must also be eager and able to stay current and attempt new things.

Man in sea diver suit.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

I have three points to make.

Every year or two, I get to learn something completely fresh and in-depth. Being George Plimpton isn’t quite as cool, but it’s close. I’ve gone through extensive special forces training and directed music videos. From NASCAR to the NBA and MLB, I’ve been awarded sideline photography credentials. All in the sake of making better games, I’ve raced automobiles, flown aircraft, climbed mountains, trained to SCUBA dive, and traveled to other countries. Furthermore, as we gain experience with our medium, the games’ paradigms shift, putting us to the test and forcing us to attempt new concepts and graphic styles.

I get to work with folks that are both creative and enthusiastic about what they do. People in the sector prefer to come to work every day, despite or because of how difficult the task might be. A day goes very fast when you’re like this.

I get paid to play games for a living/I get paid to do what I like.

7. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

There are a few factors to consider: For a living, I get to play games, but it’s the same game every day for a year, while it’s broken…

My employment applications are being rejected at a rate of 90%. Publishers reject ideas, milestones are rejected, internal concepts are rejected, and so on. I’m tough and don’t take things personally, so rejection doesn’t hurt me unless in the most unusual of instances. But what I don’t like is that not taking it personally makes it more difficult to appreciate the good aspects.


The secret is to learn from your rejections, modify, and know when to stand firm, when to admit you’re wrong, and when to concede the battle in order to win the war. One of my guiding principles is that if debating a job would take as long as executing the work, simply do the dang task.

I don’t have a better segue than this, so here are my other three rules of thumb.

Never have a problem with your project. Issues are discussed. There are always issues. The issues have been resolved.

Your mother is her own guideline. The game’s rules must be simple enough for Your Mother to grasp. If you’re going to modify anything, the difference should be significant enough that Your Mother will notice it.

Dick Maricinko taught me how to lead from the front. Too many game executives and producers don’t play, understand, or even like games. They just follow a set of checklists, project files, and dates, and they may be working on anything from small marts to a new brand of soap. Business choices have their place, but games are an art form, and those who wish to produce games should nurture and appreciate it as such.

8. How do you strike a balance between work, family, and personal life?

There have been instances in the past when the work-life balance was a complete disaster. That hasn’t been the case recently as I’ve gotten more experience and learned to develop stronger teams around me, as well as how to say “no.” I don’t believe I’ve worked more than three or four weekends each year on my past three games. I try to make the most of my travel time by handling paperwork and letters on the bus to and from work, which allows me to spend more time at home.

Families frequently inspire team members to arrive to work, remain on target, and go home. Younger team members who do not have families have greater leeway to try new things. It’s beneficial to have a diverse crew. The second greatest piece of advise I ever received was that the only thing worse than working on a Saturday is having your family contact you at work on a Saturday, wondering when you’ll be home/why you aren’t home yet.

Because he was such a kind and nice man, Henry Ford did not require his employees to work 40 hours every week. He only did so after extensive testing in his factories with 6- and 7-day work weeks and 8- to 12-hour work days. He came up with the notion of a 40-hour, five-day work week after discovering that it was the most productive and effective method to produce vehicles. Longer work hours cost him money in the form of blunders and absences.

Because not all of the elements are completed until the conclusion of the project, short sprints of crunch time are required to meet deadlines in games. However, prolonged crunch periods that span months are indicators that a project is in peril. Typically, the improvements made in these cases make the game different, not better.


9. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

The most common misunderstanding is that we need game concepts. Video game makers are approached in the same way as movie producers are approached at the car wash, vet’s office, or grocery store. We don’t need game concepts; we all have a plethora of game concepts that we’d want to implement.

Another myth is that I am inundated with free games. I’m afraid I’ll have to purchase games like everyone else. The publisher often fails to supply us with copies of the games we created for them.

10. Do you have any other advice, recommendations, observations, or anecdotes to share?

I have so many tales I’d want to share….sigh… It’s a tiny business, and certain secrets are better kept hidden. Despite the fact that they create fantastic tales.

But there are a few tales that I can offer.

I purchase a retail copy of every game I produce and play it. At the very least, for the first few stages. Between the time we ship the game out and when it appears on the shelf, it may be 6-12 weeks since I last played it (or ready for download). Whether it’s a multiplayer game, I’ll go online and check what everyone is up to, if they’re having fun, and what we can improve on next time. I also double-check the handbook for any last-minute modifications, make sure our names are spelt properly, and so on. When one of the games I worked on was launched with blank CDs in the package, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Despite the silkscreen label, I purchased a copy and attempted to install it only to discover that the disc was blank. I returned it and received a fresh copy, which was identical. It took me 48 hours to persuade the publisher to investigate the issue. Every DVD they gave out was, indeed, blank.

The retired officer leading the tour of the cosmonaut training center in Moscow was teaching N. Vietnamese fighter pilots at the same years my father was in South Vietnam trying to shoot them down with AAA.

During a SWAT drill, I inquired as to where I might securely place my camera to video when the explosives were detonated. I dutifully placed my tripod where they indicated it would be safe, and then stood there watching it get blasted to pieces. I took comfort in the knowing that I was secure and far away.

I’ve had the opportunity to spend quality time with a number of intriguing celebrities. Dick Van Dyke is a computer animator who specializes in stereoscopic 3D computer animation. For a few years, he and I exchanged suggestions and tactics. John Kricfalusi (creator of Ren and Stimpy) came over and joined us for lunch while we were eating. Tobin Bell (Jigsaw) and I exchanged coaching advice after our trade show booth chores were completed.

As Hollywood and gaming converge, I’ve been able to leverage my relationships recently, and I’ve been able to attend meetings and pitch my own movie ideas. It’s the same as in The Player.




Watch This Video-

The “video game producer skills” is a video that will teach you how to be a video game producer. The video will also give you advice for what skills are needed in this career path.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it take to be a video game producer?

How much money do video game producers make?

A: The average salary for an employee in a video game studio is about $84,000 per year.

What education do you need to be a game producer?

A: There is no standardized education required to be a game producer, however if you are going into the field and want to produce games for PC or console platforms it would help your chances of success. If you want to work on mobile games that require less programming knowledge then this will not hurt your chances either.

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