Emily Sheraton began a career in Science before coming to an important realisation that her heart was in games and making the leap into the sector with some self-taught skills and determination. Today, Emily is putting her love for organisation to good use in her role as Associate Producer with Cloud Imperium Games, helping to launch Star Citizen and develop Squadron 42. We asked Emily, some key questions about getting into the games sector.
Explain your role like I'm 5 years old
In my role I oversee teams of developers to make sure things get done. I'm responsible for putting together a schedule and making sure that work is completed and released on time. When delays happen, it's my job to rearrange the schedule and when work becomes more than first planned, it's my job to work with lead developers to see what work can be cut to meet the original deadline. The other part of my job involves people management - I'm the point of contact for questions or concerns about the work.
Take us through your average day at work
This one is difficult to answer as my days vary so much. However, a large part of my day is running meetings; taking notes, asking questions, and keeping the team on track. These meetings usually involve leads/directors making decisions for upcoming content/ solving problems, but I also run daily stand-up syncs with my teams, where everyone updates on progress and if they need anything from production/leads.
Outside that I might be doing some scheduling of team members; this could be high-level planning or in-depth task level planning. I also use software called Jira daily to add tasks in, and assign out bugs to my team. Outside that I do general chasing of information needed from other teams and I write up any necessary documentation for myself/the team.
What was your educational and career journey into your current role?
You might be surprised to hear that I actually have a background in Science. I studied BSc Biology followed by MSc Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds. After graduating, I moved into a role as a Graduate Editor (science based) for an educational book company. I worked there for about a year before realising that although I had really enjoyed studying Biology, actually working in a career in it was dull and I found I very quickly became bored with the same old routine.
It was when I was playing Horizon Zero Dawn that I realised the one thing I had always enjoyed my whole life, was playing games. I started looking into games development roles and came across the role of Production. I realised I already had the skills necessary for the entry-level production role, and so I began teaching myself the software and Scrum framework used within the industry. That's when I decided to apply at Cloud Imperium Games, and I will always be very grateful that my manager took a chance on me; as someone from outside the industry.
What is it about your role that you love?
Firstly I love how varied my days are. Although a large part of my day remains the same; meetings, the agenda of those meetings are always very different and so it's interesting to be involved in the decision-making process. I really enjoy managing a team; being the person that developers reach out to help find solutions/chase down information. I love being organised, and problem-solving - so keeping my team on track, and figuring out how the schedule will look is really enjoyable for me.
What's the hardest thing about your role?
Often as a producer, you have to be the bearer of bad news, or you have to push for results, and if you don't get those results from the team, conversations need to be had. It can be difficult to be the bringer of bad news or to be the bad guy because part of that sometimes means leads/directors/other producers may vent/speak their frustrations and take their stress out on you. In those situations, you have to remember not to take things personally.
What key skills should people work on to do your role one day?
Communication (both written and verbal) along with organisational skills are the two most important skills for this role. It's also about having a positive attitude, and motivation to push yourself and your team forward within this role.
What advice would you give to your younger self looking to get started in the industry?
Stay confident, do your research into the industry and once you've settled on a role for you, work on developing your skills in your own time, build up that portfolio, sell yourself through a targeted CV and cover letter (this needs to be specific to that company, not generalised), and ensure that you have a great knowledge base, so that even if you don't have the work experience, you will sell yourself at interview. Never lose hope - even though it may seem difficult to get into this industry, everyone has their own paths and you don't necessarily need to have a degree in games to get there!
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?
GDC videos are usually a good place to start: