Cogswell graduate, Kevin Richardson, offers insight into his job and how to prepare if this is your career goal. Kevin graduated in 2003 with Bachelor of Arts in Computer and Video Imaging – the precursor to Cogswell’s Digital Art and Animation program.
Company name, your job title, a brief description of your job responsibilities and how long you have worked there.
I currently work for Nickelodeon Kids and Family Games group in SF as their senior producer of games. My job is to scout the world for interesting flash games to put up on Shockwave, a family friendly gaming site, as well as produce multiplayer games and some exclusive games such as racing games using the shockwave 3d platform.
Can you give an example of what you might do on a ‘typical’ day?
On a typical day I am playing tons of games, usually for 30 seconds at a time, just the way our player’s would. If it doesn’t hold my attention past that, I move on to the next one. The best games I bring to a team review, and those that we pick I contact the developers (wherever they may be in the world) and make them an offer for a non-exclusive publishing arrangement. I usher the contract through legal, make sure they are paid, and also handle getting the actual game into our publishing and high scores system.
Can you give an example of something that surprised you about your job when you first started?
It is easy to get lost in the technical side of things. Don’t! is my advice. The players only care about having fun. Focus on the fun, not how you are going to get it done.
Describe your piece of the production cycle. How does what you do move the project forward?
As a producer you are the beginning, middle and end. One definition of a producer I love is, “The producer is the guy you throw out the window if it’s late, over budget or just plain bad.” I agree with that.
How big is the team you are part of for a typical project? What kind of interaction do you have with other team members?
The teams vary in size. It really depends upon the scope of the project, but for a flash game usually between 3 to 6, depending on factors such as: is it a multiplayer game, the complexity and so on.
What projects have you worked on in the past?
In addition to my job at Nickelodeon, I just launched my own casual independent game series for download under the Gamespin banner, Ghost Town Mysteries. I have produced over 30 “E” rated games, including the Family Feud and Risk games and several Hasbro titles including Boggle and Trivial Pursuit while at iWin.com. Prior to iWin.com, I worked at The Learning Company/Mattel Interactive where I was Executive Producer on numerous Reader Rabbit and ClueFinders adventures and at EA/Pogo where I worked on Tumblebees ToGo. I began my career as an animator and special effects artist working for ILM and Hanna Barbera-Wang Films.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
People interactions and trying to figure out what is fun. It’s not always that simple! And working with smart people.
What advice would you give students preparing for a career as a Sr. Producer?
It is a business. But the business is to entertain others. Know how to do that. What entertains you? Get down to the minutiae of that in a film, game, a play – or a walk in the woods. Be in touch with your emotions and what triggered them – so that you can touch the emotions of your players with the same mechanics.
How did Cogswell help prepare you for this career?
Cogswell rounded me out. By being pushed into places out of my comfort zone I was stretched as a person. And just being around other smart people with ideas other than my own is always healthy and inspiring.
What qualities does someone need to have to be successful in this field?
Remain curious. Work hard. Be disciplined. Don’t fall in love with your own ideas. Stay objective, but bring passion to your work when you think you are onto something.
-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement