Video game producer

A video game producer is the person in charge of overseeing development of a video game.[1][2]

History

The earliest documented use of the term producer in games was by Trip Hawkins, who established the position when he founded Electronic Arts in 1982. Hawkins said in 1983:

Producers basically manage the relationship with the artist. They find the talent, work out product deals, get contracts signed, manage them, and bring them to their conclusion. The producers do most of the things that a product manager does. They don't do the marketing, which in some cases product managers do. They don't make decisions about packaging and merchandising, but they do get involved ... they're a little like book editors, a little bit like film producers, and a lot like product managers.[3]

Sierra On-Line's 1982 computer game Time Zone may be the first to list credits for "Producer" and "Executive Producer".[4] As of late 1983 Electronic Arts had five producers: A product marketer and two others from Hawkins' former employer Apple ("good at working with engineering people"), one former IBM salesman and executive recruiter, and one product marketer from Automated Simulations;[3] it popularized the use of the title in the industry.[4] Hawkins' vision—influenced by his relationship with Jerry Moss—was that producers would manage artists and repertoire in the same way as in the music business, and Hawkins brought in record producers from A&M Records to help train those first producers. Activision made Brad Fregger their first producer in April 1983.

Although the term is an industry standard today, it was dismissed as "imitation Hollywood" by many game executives and press members at the time. Over its entire history, the role of the video game producer has been defined in a wide range of ways by different companies and different teams, and there are a variety of positions within the industry referred to as producer.

There are relatively few superstars of game production that parallel those in film, in part because top producers are usually employed by publishers who choose to play down publicizing their contributions. Unlike many of their counterparts in film or music, these producers do not run their own independent companies.