Welcome from the Academy founder, Liam.
To enable games industry professionals to plan better, lead better and stop the crunch culture, through building a community of support, knowledge and training.
This website exists as a place to gather and chat, swap ideas and learn from each other, accumulate expertise and even accreditation. We hope to gather sufficient support to offer podcasts, videos, training, articles and guides. Please join us.
It is difficult to nail down the job of a Game Producer: some will be leading enormous teams and budgets, others are assisting a dozen people to turn around mobile games over a few months; juniors may be scrummasters for a single scrum team’s progress, whilst industry veterans become executive producers, development directors or studio owners.
Given the importance of the role, it is a surprise that Game Producers are so poorly represented across the games industry and online. This place seeks to rectify that. Together we are building a community of resource - from podcast interviews to video courses, masterclasses from the best, Slack channels for sharing and chilling, coaching and mentoring on request and a lot more.
Producers tend to have little or no formal training, because it is almost impossible to quantify what that foundation of knowledge should look like. Is it project management? Is it stakeholder management? Is it keeping game teams happy and giving them a nudge in the right direction? Is it standing over Jira kanban boards and asking for progress every day? How do we grow from an associate producer straight out of QA into a dev director or exec producer, handling tens of millions of dollars and hundreds of people, colocated, in-sourced, outsourced and the rest? The gaming industry is maturing and far more expansive than it was 20 or 30 years ago, but it is still rife with old-fashioned thinking, cultural norms and behaviour that would not be endured elsewhere.
"Think too of the world changing rapidly and how that affects the game delivery lifecycle. We now have a mobile version and live ops are ever more important as we need to support games that launch and then push out their longtail of DLC, events and tournaments. We have e-sport as well as multi-platform games, we are not only about beheading zombies but can expect to spend careers producing games that are for the casual market, or are only being sold to a few hundred gaming fanatics as a collector’s piece. Gaming is now bigger than movies and the games industry is a serious endeavour - if you treat it as anything else, you can expect to be stripped of your dreams after a few years of exposure.
Game development is a young industry, with a dearth of publications on how to combine the methodologies involved with making a game. Only as a single Borg mind do we become best placed to research, analyse and attempt to solve the problem of how to make games in a volatile environment, under great time pressure, dealing with publishers, virtual teams, in/outsourcing and communication-starved knowledge workers. The problems of making games on time and within budget go well beyond theoretical discussions on project management, but are very real crises that involve creative people and vast budgets.
I have mentored game producers, project managers, product owners and more over the years and come to understand that we are a lonely bunch, often wondering where to turn for support and understanding. Fortunately for me, I come from outside the insular world of games, being a veteran of project/program management from e-learning to software development. I have led myself and led teams of 120 spread across the world. I have worked on portfolio-level dependency tracking, agile transformations, senior leadership mentoring, simple rolling-up-the-sleeves consultancy and project management and more. All that simply means that I understand there is a foundation of knowledge out there that we can benefit from inside our gaming worlds, just as I can benefit from the breadth of experience from all of you who have struggled and triumphed. So let’s share and grow together.
The Games Producer role changes with every promotion - you cannot expect to learn how to lead multiple teams across multiple disciplines on day 100 when on day 99 you were a glorified scrummaster with Agile coach tendencies. Just as the games industry fails across the globe to properly consider the change to ‘middle management’, we can see that leadership training to understand the climb up the career ladder is essential for games producers with ambition. Even without ambition, the inevitable promotions as time grinds on can all too often lead to renewed fears, ambiguities and often sheer guts to survive.
Game crunch has become a talking point, with Red Dead Redemption II, Witcher III and plenty of other games highlighting working conditions and expectations. Is it simply the Way Things Are, or an exploitation of game-workers’ passions and team spirit? I like to think it is complicated, but definitely includes the poor training and poor foundation knowledge of producers who never received any training in how to handle highly complex and sometimes chaotic programs of work that we happen to call games. We may be making life a lot worse for game teams than better, if we are repeating what those who came before us did, simply because we never even realised there was an alternative.
Personally, I am passionate about providing game producers with strong foundations of knowledge in project and program management, including Lean & Agile methodologies, so that this may lead to peace of mind, reduction in waste and crunch plus industry-recognised accreditation. For too long now, producers have had to rely upon apprenticeship-learning and long years of service to try and work out what their job entails and how to do it. So many producers suffer from imposter syndrome as a result. Let us break this cycle. Together we can combine knowledge and support to provide foundation knowledge and training.
Since we started our journey in May 2020, we grew rapidly and with gusto thanks to the effort of Juney and others in our Discord community - but without your support we are doomed. Please do sign up, join in, volunteer a bit of your knowledge and experiences - let me interview you! Sign up to Discord! Contribute to the content. Whatever you want.
Together we can bring method to the madness.