Interview with Jeff Outlaw, Video Game Producer
Jeff Outlaw is a video game producer at Schell Games. With offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Austin, TX, the company offers design and development services to its clientele. Under the guidance of company founder Jesse Schell, a talented team made up of artists, producers, designers, and programmers work on projects ranging from attractions featured at theme parks, online games, handheld and console games, to exciting virtual worlds.
Q: Can you describe what a video game producer does?
A: The role of the video game producer is to handle the business end of a gaming project. Rather than taking on the role of a "boss," the producer acts as a facilitator or a coach. He or she works with budgets and scheduling to bring a video game project to completion.
Q: What drew you to the video game industry as a career choice?
A: I got to the video game industry in a roundabout way. I was in the Navy for five years, and I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Pre-law Studies. I decided to go to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and going to art school led to my choosing to go into the video game field.
Q: What level of education is needed to qualify for a job in the video game industry?
A: Someone can get the training they need to get an entry-level position in the computer and video game industry by attending a trade school. There are a number of video game tutorials available that will give a prospective employee the experience they need to qualify for a position with a game company.
Q: What makes a person a good candidate for a job in the computer and video game industry?
A: Being a team player is very important. The work in bringing a computer or video game from the idea stage to completion involves a number of people contributing to the project. Along with the ability to work well in a group situation, the candidate’s skill set is very important.
A person who is self-motivated will do well in this field. They need to be a creative problem-solver who can focus on solutions instead of challenges in their work.
Q: Is the computer and video game field a growing industry?
A: Like other segments of the economy, the computer and video game industry has contracted somewhat. The console game market has slowed down recently, but it has performed better than a lot of industries. There may be more opportunities for companies that specialize in a niche market.
Q: How do you see future prospects for the computer and video game industry?
A: Consumers will continue to demand games that they can access online and/or download. Games available for use with portable devices are very popular.
There are also applications for computer and video games used as teaching tools. There is a place for this technology in education at all levels, from K-12 to medical schools teaching surgical procedures.
Q: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share with people who are thinking about a career in the computer and video game industry?
A: If a person has a passion for games, they can make a living doing something they love. It’s not easy to break into the industry, but it’s certainly not impossible to do so. Deciding that you want to become a professional football player is much more difficult, for example.
If it’s something you want to do, you can develop your skill set online. When it comes to getting a job in the computer and video game industry, passion is the most important component.