Careers Series: Producer

This week, Ukie Students spoke to Adrienne Law who is ustwo's Assistant Producer. Read on for more insider info on how to land your dream job in games.

Ukie: Please can you introduce yourself and your current role in a few sentences.

My name is Adrienne, and I’m an Assistant Producer at ustwo Games, creators of Monument Valley and the virtual reality game Land’s End. While I’m technically an Assistant Producer, in reality we’re such a small team that I essentially function as everything from Production Assistant to Producer, as it all ends up on my to-do list eventually!

Can you describe a typical day for you?

Because of the size of the company, my day-to-day involves a mixture of working directly with our development teams, catching up on the progress of various tasks and checking that no-one is blocked in any way, and also maintaining various external relationships with platform partners, press and exhibitors.

Working with a smaller team means I’m involved in every aspect of production, rather than specialising in, say, Tech or Art. It can be pretty tough, as there’s a lot of assumed knowledge across each field that I need to keep up to speed with, but the bonus is that you quickly gain insights over the whole production cycle, rather than just your specific area of responsibility.

What is your favourite thing about doing your job?

There’s no one ‘favourite’ thing for me about working in production. There are tasks that are incredibly fun, and there are tasks that are pretty mundane – just as you’d expect in most jobs. What’s unique, however, is that all these exciting and not-so-exciting tasks are my contributions to an overall effort to release a game. Being able to apply my organisation skills to a product I love feels a lot more satisfying than some of the work I’ve done in the past.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I’m still pretty early in my career, so I’ll have to go with getting my first credit (on Land’s End). Never underestimate the pride in seeing your name attached to something worthwhile. And the launch party afterwards was pretty fun as well…

What was your first job in the games industry?

My first job was right here at ustwo Games. I joined as a Production Assistant just under a year ago, having not worked in the industry previously. My route into gaming was a very indirect one, having previously worked in Finance, Education and Marketing. It meant, on the one hand, I could fit right in to our fairly flexible approach to production, but at the same time it was quite a baptism of fire as I tried to get to grips with so much terminology at the same time as getting up to speed on projects already well underway.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

Having had the chance to work in several industries since graduating, I hadn’t found a job that I felt any overall connection to. To put it in gaming terms, the short loops were okay, but the longer loops were unsatisfying. I became conscious that, even if on a day-to-day basis I was getting my work done, I wasn’t doing anything that I could still envision making me happy in ten, or even five, years time.

I took a plunge applying for a job with ustwo Games because the gaming industry seemed like it could provide the long loops that would give my work more personal meaning. On a day to day basis, there’s a good mix of creativity and more practical tasks you can get your hands dirty with, but the process of releasing games allows me to see a tangible result of the work I put in, and one I’m proud to hand around to friends and family.

Plus, naturally, I love video games!

Did you go to college/university? What did you study?

I studied English Literature at the University of Warwick, so not necessarily a degree you’d expect to associate with a career in video games!

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role?

  • Good time management, not just of yourself but for others as well.
  • Good communication skills across the board – you’ll have to work with internal and external colleagues and collaborators, not to mention more formal relationships with distributors and publishers. You’ll make calls, chair meetings, and write a ton of emails, so make sure you’re getting your practice in.
  • Prioritisation and managing short and long-term objectives simultaneously.
  • Staying positive!

What do you think is the biggest challenge for people wanting to work in games?

Finding a first opportunity can be incredibly tough – there’s a lot of competition, and it can be very difficult to mark yourself out from the crowd. If you feel like you’re not getting access to these opportunities, then the best advice I could give is to start doing things for yourself.

Learn to code. Learn to design. Get yourself into conferences and start to make connections with other people in and around the industry. Perseverance pays off.

Also, don’t be afraid to work outside the industry in the meantime. There are plenty of great, transferable skills you can pick up in other industries, some of which might help you think more laterally once you do get your first industry position.

What tips would you give to someone wanting to pursue a role like yours?

Don’t be afraid to apply! As someone who transitioned from outside the industry, I wasn’t sure that I would have enough/the right experience to be able to do my job. However, there are plenty of transferrable skills to do with project management, organisation, and communication that could make you the ideal candidate for a production job.

Also, make sure your CV and cover letter are concise and communicative. We receive a lot of applications for any of our advertised roles, and the better your CV is, the more likely we are to pay attention to it. These should be tailored to each role you apply for; not knowing a company’s products or the basics of its business model (i.e. FTP, Premium, Console etc.) will not help your application.

You’d be surprised at how many applications we receive from people who admit to never having played any of our games!

Is there anything interesting or exciting that you’re currently working on that you can tell us about?

Unfortunately not! We are beginning work on a couple of new projects this year, but they’re under tight wraps for the time being. We should be able to make an announcement later this year though, so watch this space!

Thank you so much Adrienne for spending some time with Ukie Students! Make sure you visit ustwo's website, check out their latest games and follow them on Twitter.