Interview

Jobs in Games: East Side Games' Elin Jonsson on the misconceptions of being a games producer

Jobs in Games: East Side Games' Elin Jonsson on the misconceptions of being a games producer

The games industry plays host to an excellent cast of colourful and diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing. With each position requiring mastery in its field. As such, seeing a game come together is a beautiful thing akin to a puzzle as an overall picture becomes whole.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz has decided to reach out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This time we spoke with East Side Games producer Elin Jonsson.

PocketGamer.Biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

Elin Jonsson: I currently work as the producer on Trailer Park Boys: Greasy Money. This live ops idle game launched two years ago on Android and iOS, and is driven by stories based on the popular TV-show, Trailer Park Boys. I lead a team of 20 people, all from different disciplines: artists, designers, writers, engineers and quality assurance analysts.

I learned how to hustle, and most importantly, to never give up.
Elin Jonsson

As an East Side Games producer, it is my responsibility to steer the ship, ensuring that everyone on the team is following the same course.

I admit I spend my fair share of time in meetings, but making games takes a good amount of planning, tracking and communicating. It is my job to connect all of the dots to help the team stay focused and setup for success each day.

I get to work closely with our support teams, such as marketing (growth) and community. I make sure that everyone working on the project has the resources and tools they need to be able to do their job to the best of their ability. No two days are exactly alike and that makes it exciting.

How did you first get into games and how did you progress into the role?

I have a passion for games, which led me to start my own studio, Imaginary Games. Here, I was able to make my own games and created the artistic collectible card game, Afterland.

This experience had so many rewards and challenges. I spent five years raising money for the company, pitched to investors, got angel investments, went through a mobile game incubator called Execution labs; I did everything from book-keeping to the final art. I led a team of eight people and learned so much in the process.

I learned how to hustle, and most importantly, to never give up. I know how incredibly hard it is to run a studio, and I don’t take my current job for granted.

I know that the folks who founded ESG have been through hell and back to create this amazing company. Every entrepreneur has had to sacrifice a lot to get to where they are today.

Elin Jonsson founded Imaginary Games in 2012 before going on to release collectible card game Afterland

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

I always thought that I would work in a creative industry in some capacity. I’m from a small town in Sweden, so early on I didn’t really know what “creative industry” meant.

I worked for some years at the largest music festival in Sweden called Peace & Love as an art director. I also worked as a project manager for an up-and-coming cafe.

What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

I studied fine art and I have a masters in education. Execution labs (mobile games incubator) and Wavefront (business accelerator) were great learning experiences for me.

I’m also taking courses in leadership. My biggest piece of advice is to never stop learning. You will never be done, so keep at it.

That perfect moment when everyone works together and all the pieces fall into place with awesome results is really satisfying.
Elin Jonsson

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

I feel the most fulfilled when all the boxes are checked off, and our team has come together to create the best possible experience for our fans. We have featured a number of celebrities in our events and all of those were very special.

Great people such as Tom Green, Sebastian Bach and Steve Jessup worked with us to hype the in-game events they all appeared in, which led to us being featured by Google.

That perfect moment when everyone works together and all the pieces fall into place with awesome results is really satisfying.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

Yes. The producer role in the games industry is fairly new and means so many different things for different studios.

At some studios, the producer is more like a project manager, while in others the producer is the vision holder who oversees the team and the direction of the product.

Many people don’t realise what a producer actually does and all the work that happens behind the curtain.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

The games community in Vancouver is awesome. I was able to visit and tour a lot of studios during the time I had my own company.

I was lucky to meet many people who openly shared their experiences with me and were ready to offer advice as I set out on my own path.

What other advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

Always be ready! You come into work in the morning, thinking you know what your day will look like, and then something happens.

It’s the type of job that keeps you on your toes. You need to be ready to drop everything and help with anything - literally anything. That’s also the charm of this job.

East Side Games communications manager Lidi Giroux will be a speaker at Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki, which takes place on October 1st and 2nd.

Staff Writer

Matthew Forde is a freelance writer from Yorkshire, who's work has been published for Tech Radar, Nintendo Life, Kotaku UK and more. He regularly attends Smash Bros. tournaments, while trying to keep up-to-date on everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes. You can find him on Twitter @Forde999.

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