Meet Jason, Video Game Content Producer
Jason Ray is a Senior Producer at Vive Studios, a software publishing subsidiary of Taiwanese smartphone company HTC that is known for its virtual reality headset and connections with Valve’s digital video game distribution platform Steam. Ray received degrees in Economics and Microbiology from San Jose State University in 1992 while working as a Quality Assurance Manager and Associate Producer for Strategic Simulations Inc., a company that notably developed games based on the Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer 40,000 universes for systems including the MS-DOS, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment System and Windows (circa 1995).
Activision and Konami are other major video game developers that Ray has been a Senior Producer at, with the latter involving work on mobile and browser games as well as designing and building the sports-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Action AllStars.
During his over 25 years developing interactive entertainment, Ray has had the opportunity to specialize with branded content even beyond sports organizations like the MLB and NFL, including the popular trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, NASCAR and recently Ready Player One.
He has a wife and two sons, whom he says are the most important things in his life.
What influenced you to become a video game content producer?
Since I opened my first Atari Pong machine when I was five years old, I’ve been hooked on video games. In my tween years, I dreamed of one day creating my own.
Were there any events later in life that led you into the industry?
There were times early in my adulthood where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. My life was pulled in multiple directions balancing work, school and social activities.
Eventually I found the place I most wanted to be was at my desk, working with a team and building an incredible video game experience. When I was able to focus almost completely on that, it was easier to let the other stuff go. That has allowed me to blossom in my career.
In turn I was happier, engaged in something that was deeply important to me and reaping the benefits of my hard work and dedication.
It was at that point I realized I would never consider doing anything other than developing video games.
What is a typical day like for you?
Days are filled with numerous emails and meetings, and the majority of my time is spent directing traffic from one department to the next. Facilitating communication between artists and programmers, or between marketing teams and public relations specialists, while also providing progress report to executive staff and other stakeholders.
When focused solely on the content we’re creating, I might spend long hours creating flow charts, block diagrams and storyboards.
At the end of a project, I dedicate a lot of time to playing the game and making final tweaks that will optimize the end user experience.
What do you love the most about your job?
I really appreciate being part of a team, and in my profession you always work as a team.
Your team not only includes the skilled designers, programmers and artists that form the development, but also the creative people in marketing and public relations who communicate what your experience is directly to consumers.
As the producer on a project, these people are relying on me to provide the information they need to do their jobs, and together we are all responsible for the success of the game.
What are its biggest challenges?
Creating an amazing game is always challenging for a variety of reasons. However, each project is only limited by the amount of time we have to build it.
The most commonly heard preface in this business is: “If we’d had more time, then…” Every project starts with identifying what the risks are, and development teams nearly always tackle those items before beginning the more mundane tasks.
What kind of hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
Away from the office I’m an avid sports fan, especially baseball and hockey. When I take vacations I find solace in the outdoors, whether it’s relaxing on the beach or camping in the mountains.
I use that time to recharge and reflect, but also to get new inspiration for upcoming projects. More than anything though, I enjoy spending quality time with my family.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Software development has a lot of moving parts, and a good producer takes responsibility over all of them. Inevitably things will go wrong, you will make mistakes — some because of a lack of sleep and an overabundance of stress.
The old saying is true: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Own your mistakes and learn from them.