What does a games producer do?
If you were to draw a Venn diagram with overlapping circles of ‘sadistic’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘legally acceptable’, then somewhere in the middle you’d find the mind of a games producer! Games producers ensure that when a celebrity is invited to eat a bug as part of a game, it falls short of torture, won’t result in a lawsuit and provides plenty to talk about in a water-cooler moment.
Games producers have a great knowledge and appreciation of previous TV game shows and the current landscape. They are good at forming new ideas for games and finding the right purpose and reward system for them. They have an in-depth understanding of the format of the particular programme they’re working on and they ensure the games have the right tone and difficulty level required by the series producer.
Games producers are great all-rounders and creative thinkers. TV games are rarely just about the gameplay and scoring points, the games producer will often have to weave in a variety of secondary elements such as making the audience laugh, heightening tension between competitors or evoking emotion in the contestants.
Before games get anywhere near TV, they are tried, tested and refined. A games producer leads this process, spending a lot of time in the office surrounded by homemade props, trying out games to make them absolutely watertight.
Sometimes they help the art department in the design and sourcing of props. They also create and manage risk assessments to ensure contestants are safe, whether on location or in a studio. When a game’s being played in a studio, they might have to tally results quickly during the game while shooting, and liaise with an independent adjudicator to ensure fairness, especially when prizes are involved.
Games producers are usually freelancers.
What’s a games producer good at?
- Creativity: come up with new ideas from the most obscure briefs, be able to imagine how they will work and test them
- Design: make games that look good and entertain visually
- Adaptability: meet the varying workload of different programmes with different formats
- Objectivity: gauge difficulty based on the programme’s brief and knowledge of the audience and contestants, rather than your own ability
- Legal knowledge: understand health and safety policies, risk assessments and more