In my last two posts I described my evaluation of the PMP and CSM certifications in game development. In my opinion the latter is quite valuable, the former less so. This has led me to ponder: what would an ideal Production certification confer?
I’m talking about something specific to the management of game creation. Much like the variety of credentials offered by PMI (Project Management, Program Management, Scheduling Professional, etc.) and Scrum Alliance (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scrum Trainer, etc.), perhaps we would start with at least two designations: a project management (PM) track and a creative leadership (Creative) track. There may well be some crossover here, but the distinction is designed to recognize that some production positions are geared toward purely managerial responsibilities (scheduling, task tracking, planning, etc.) and others focus on guiding a project in terms of vision (gameplay direction, art direction, etc.).
In the PM track I would personally want to know that someone is certified to grasp the fundamentals of Agile development. They would preferably – but not necessarily – be a CSM who also understands why a group or team might need to implement Lean practices. Not unlike the PMI prerequisites, this person would have demonstrated experience in project management, not just theory. I would want to know that someone with PM credentials has been through each phase of a project from conception to close. Most importantly, this person should understand the value behind most common project management methods and when each should be employed – or avoided.
While popular in current hiring practices for production positions, I would not require a familiarity with common tools. To be a credentialed PM, I don’t care if someone has used JIRA or MS Project. If they shipped a game using only Wordpad I’d think that experience is good enough. In fact, I’d probably hire someone on the spot if they could prove they pulled that off. Yes, they should be familiar with task tracking and bug tracking but I wouldn’t consider specific software knowledge to be a prerequisite for certification.
As for the Creative track, I’m having more difficulty nailing down specifics. Like the PM, this person should have demonstrated experience as a creative leader, but how else do you indicate he or she is “worthy” of the Creative certification? Hopefully not by personal Metacritic scores – we tried that already (for a few woeful days, anyway). Sales numbers? LinkedIn recommendations? Maybe this field is too ambiguous to be able to say, “This person is a certified Creative producer.”
I’m not at all sure that we only need two tracks here. Perhaps there should be sub-categories for different industry sectors (PM-MMO, Creative-Mobile, etc.) or for different studio situations (PM-Independent, Creative-PublisherOwned).
These are just some of my thoughts on the subject. I’m anxious to hear yours. Given the goal of creating a Game Producer Certification that would make you automatically value a certified producer over an un-certified one, what skills, knowledge, and experience do you think should be represented by the credentials?