Charlie Coler is Project Manager for award-winning AAA character-action video games company Studio Gobo. Having previously worked in production, Charlie is now about to embark on a learning journey to understand the creative process of game making. We asked Charlie, some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
My role is a bit like a zookeeper trying to sweep up leaves in a pen full of baby pandas. This tweet really sums it up.
Take us through your average day at work
Morning stand ups to go through the work that the team is doing, any blockers, making sure they're on track for completing their tasks for the current sprint, general meetings with the client/team. I specifically look after a section of the game, which is split into 3 pods and playtesting - which is extremely fun.
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
I had a non-conventional route into games (this isn't uncommon so don't worry if you don't have a specific games degree!) I trained as a make-up artist originally and worked in a lot of creative industries mainly as a personal assistant.
I got a job working in VFX production for TV, I worked on multiple projects and really enjoyed it, but decided I wanted to get into games and make the move to the south coast, so took a side step into a Recruitment Coordinator role for a AAA games company to learn about the industry, get to see all aspects of what people did, and although it has many similarities to the VFX pipeline, there was still more to learn.
I then moved into my current role as a Project Manager at Studio Gobo, and I am starting a course in Video Games Art Production at Escape Studios in September, so I can learn and have more insight into the creative side as I'm interested in the art direction side of games also.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role?
I love being involved with the whole creative process, seeing how things are made and constantly learning. Looking after a team and helping them create their best work. I'm also a big fan of organising and problem-solving. (Yes I'm weird!)
What's the hardest thing about your role?
Getting used to things constantly changing even if you think you have a solid plan!
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
I believe a few skills cannot be learnt, they inherently sit inside of you as a person, you will be empathetic, have a natural urge to help and develop people and gain and keep peoples trust easily. Skills you can learn would be organisational, multitasking and people skills, keeping a cool head under pressure, become familiar with project management methodologies and I have found having a sense of humour never hurts!
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
No move is a wrong move, you're always going to learn valuable skills even if it's not 100% what you want to do.
Do you have any links to good articles or videos that you think might give some tips or advice to someone starting in your role?
If you have access to the GDC Summer conference vault, you must watch the - Ask Me Anything: Production Q&A with Rod Fergusson.
And also this is a great resource for Project Managers: The Liberators - Unleashing Organisational Superpowers