Levelling Up – Coatsink’s Gary Alexander Stott

Gary Alexander Stott, producer at Coatsink, tells us what it’s like being the glue that holds everything together.

What is your job role and how would you describe your typical day at work?

As a producer, I’m responsible for overseeing internal development projects and external publishing projects. This ultimately comes down to managing teams of developers and ensuring everything remains on track through regular check-ins and reviews.

Producers should be the glue that holds everything together, ensuring communication flows between teams and other stakeholders. Managing team health is a super important factor, too. It’s not just about unblocking impediments to progress and hitting milestones, but ensuring processes are healthy, effective, and sustainable in the long run.

Setting the right expectations is key, and it’s vital to plan accordingly to provide contingencies. Things rarely go exactly as planned – good production is about being prepared for this and reorienting accordingly. There’s an element of reactivity to the role, but over time you develop your own internal playbook of options for approaching such situations and it becomes second nature.

What qualifications and/or experience do you need to land your job?

Production offers great entry-level opportunities, regardless of your background. This is partly down to the broad nature of the discipline – it means different things to different people, and the responsibilities involved can vary widely from studio to studio. Even under the same roof, producers are likely to have different styles and approaches.

I came into my first production role from a background in retail management, having previously written for smaller games websites on the side. This communicated to the recruiter that I possessed transferable experience and was driven, passionate, and knowledgeable about the industry. I fully believe networking helped me land my current position, too, having built up an online presence through Twitter over the years. I was able to leverage these connections to pursue opportunities once I re-entered the market, and had the support of my industry contacts throughout the process.

Networking doesn’t have to be a boring, po-faced affair. It can simply mean meeting lots of interesting, talented people and tweeting nonsense at each other for years on end.

If you were interviewing someone for your team, what would you look for?

You have to possess the relevant hard skills, but it’s the soft skills that pave the way for an ideal candidate. If an applicant can demonstrate good communication and provide evidence of meeting the required responsibilities effectively, they’re halfway there. The other half is considering how they might fit into the team’s dynamics.

Game development is a collaborative process; you have to be able to play well with others, and so finding a good cultural fit is important. I knew Coatsink were my kind of people from the start, as my interviewers made thoughtful considerations like providing me with their list of questions in advance, and handling everything within the space of a single meeting, rather than a weeks-long multi-stage process. This showed a certain level of care and respect, and so I sensed a philosophical alignment between us.

What opportunities are there for career progression at Coatsink?

Coatsink cares about skills development, and my onboarding period included access to a range of courses allowing me to expand my skill set where it was opportune. We also offer self-development days to provide employees a chance to guide their own professional evolution.

This is great for morale, as it lets people break away from their routine and do something a little different, whether that means taking an online course, exploring another discipline, or finding a small group to build a prototype with.

With a wide range of projects to manage across a variety of platforms, there’s so much valuable work experience to gain here, and now that we’re part of Thunderful Games, we have a lot of support behind us, too. All in all, it’s a great environment to flourish in, and you’re provided with a lot of opportunities for levelling up your career.

About Vince Pavey

Vince is a writer from the North-East of England who has worked on comics for The Beano and Doctor Who. He likes to play video games and eat good food. Sometimes he does both at the same time, but he probably shouldn’t.

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