Today we welcome to campus game industry veteran Barry Hawkins, director of product management at Riot Games in Santa Monica, California. The studio is best known for the popular League of Legends online battle arena title, which has attracted over 30 million users since it debuted in 2009.
Barry will deliver a lecture titled “A Game Studio Shopping Guide,” in which he’ll offer advice to students on what to look for when weighing their career options after graduation. The talk draws heavily on his work at Riot Games, which in addition to helping the workflow of the different development teams, also has him mentoring new hires on how to successfully integrate into company culture.
We spoke with Barry about his work in this role before visiting campus, as well as why it’s important for him to connect with current game studies students.
Full Sail: Your role doesn’t fall into the typical artist/designer/producer category, can you describe a little more in depth about what you do at Riot Games?
Barry Hawkins: It’s an opaque part of the world of games. Product management is a more holistic approach to development. I see the health of a product and the community it supports as a big part of how product strategy is shaped. It’s an approach that some within the games industry have chosen to embrace, particularly those of us with online games where the relationship with the community is far more dynamic.
FS: What does this mean specifically for upcoming graduates who are looking to enter the industry?
BH: How the studio you choose to work at approaches product management largely determines what your life is going to be like there. So as an artist or a designer, these are the things to be aware of, and having a filter for knowing what that’s going to mean can be a really effective tool when evaluating what career moves to make.
FS: What makes lecture opportunities like this valuable on your end?
BH: Speaking to people at this stage of their journey is just a good investment. I get to see what people are learning about the skills in different disciplines, but also about the business of making games, and how the different approaches to business affect the culture. It works both ways.
* Barry Hawkins will be speaking on campus today, Wednesday, September 4, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. in Full Sail’s Entertainment Business Auditorium