Become a... video game producer
Assistant Explorer Leader Matthew Lightfoot turned his love of gaming into a career, using a few skills he learned in Scouts.
When I was in my teens, I loved being outdoors, trying new things that challenged me and going on adventures with my friends. These were all things that Scouting enabled me to do.
I also enjoyed playing games: they also enable you to do things that you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do, such as fly jets across the sky, save the world from baddies or try out your zombie survival plan in a post-apocalyptic world.
During my first year as a politics student at university, I was volunteering with Scouts, and, in my free time, a group of friends and I were making modifications for online games. We turned a military simulator into a Zombie Survival game and called it DayZ. From six of us playing it, we silently made it publicly downloadable and the popularity rapidly grew until there were over a million people playing it!
In the beginning, my role was mostly testing and giving feedback. However, as the fanbase grew, I moved into a more managerial role: trying to ensure we could keep up with the demand for support, by building a team of volunteers to help people troubleshoot common problems. I also handled media inquiries, social media and community interaction. Thanks to my Scouts Young Spokesperson training, I like to think I did fairly well at it.
As our total player count got larger, we had more problems to troubleshoot, including threats from hackers. A games development company saw what we had done and offered us a deal – part of which was joining the company. I packed a bag and left about two weeks later.
The job of a producer is fairly difficult to define as it varies a lot depending on the requirements of the company at the time. Much of the job is scheduling - ensuring everyone is on-task and pushing the project forward. There are exciting parts to the job too, like going to trade shows, doing press interviews and organising community events. I really do all sorts!
My typical day
I leave the house at 6.40am, get a train to work and arrive just after 8am. I catch up with my emails, which can include messages from our US offices in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, telling us what they’ve achieved overnight.
At 10am we always have a ‘team sync’, where we go through any issues that occurred the previous day and lay out the plan for the day ahead. After this, I’ll often go and speak to all the developers who are working on the most critical parts of our new games, to ensure we’re making our deadlines.
At 12pm I’ll have lunch and plan the Programme for the Explorer Unit I help run. Then, in the afternoon, I can be doing all sorts – from meetings about new game features, to chatting with our testing department and reviewing what’s in development.
Towards the end of the day, we’ll have video meetings with our US offices to discuss our progress. I leave work around 5.30pm.
I think Scouting has given me the skills to speak publicly with confidence. I have a disabling skin condition, and due to this, as a young person, I lacked confidence. I believe the turning point was when I joined Cubs, where the leaders supported me to do all of the same things the other young people did.
The media training I got from Scouts when I was about 15 gave me the skills to speak to members of the press, convey an on-brand message and deal with tough questions from journalists. I'm now using these skills at some of the largest video games conventions in the world, including E3, GamesCom and Eurogamer Expo.
Want to follow in Matt’s footsteps and become a video game producer? Try focusing on some of these Scout and Explorer badges, which could help you develop skills like teamwork, leadership, communication and creativity:
Get tips about how to talk about the skills you've learned through Scouting - in job interviews and on your CV - by downloading the Get Ahead Resource.