Decoding video game credits: what all those titles mean?
Translating video game credits is a surprisingly common request for localizers, usually leading to two great issues.
The byzantine structure of the hierarchy, and the lack of any equivalent in most target languages.
As games become increasingly deep and complex, developers become more structured, with a hierarchy that might get confusing - especially when you are required to translate it!
Let’s review the main roles involved in game creation, based on the "Game Industry Crediting: A Snapshot of the Present" paper by IGDA.
While small developers maintain a fairly flat managerial structure, larger teams are creating more depth. The most popular nomenclature is:
- Lead: The highest tier before straight management, responsible for risk assessment and day-to-day managing. It still requires extensive hands-on experience, as active development might be required in addition to managerial tasks.
- Assistant: Usually used for Producer roles, the assistant takes on a portion of the Lead’s duties that the Lead isn’t available.
- Associate: A step up from "Assistant" with little, if any, extra duties.
- Senior: The highest development role without managerial tasks. Seniors are generally given higher priority tasks, and are expected to mentor new developers.
- Untitled: General developers with no managerial tasks beyond the scope of their role.
- Junior: The lowest entry-level position, with basic duties and low priority tasks.
- Chief Technical Officer: The driving force behind the selection and development of technology, designing and developing most of its facets.
- Technical Director: Also called Chief Engineer. Equivalent to an "Art Director" for art or a "Creative Director" for game design.
- Program Manager: A technical producer with close ties with the software, or a Project Manager tasked with ongoing "Programs"
- Programmer: Also called Software Engineer. Programming language specialists tasked with writing and implementing in-game elements like AI, scripting or mechanics, but also external aspects like network code, tools, optimizations…
- Creative Director: Responsible for all creative facets relating to design and vision within a game or company. Generally the manager of the game designers.
- Director: A manager responsible for a large subsection of the company. Design Director, Technical Director, Art Director…
- Designer: Tasked with designing the project. Based on the tier, this can go from placing single art objects on the map, to creating whole levels, to crafting the whole design document and vision for the game.
- President: Head of the company and responsible for its well-being and profitability.
- Executive Producer: Depending on their number they can be the "holder of the vision" for the whole studio or single key franchise/licenses in corporate and strategy meetings. They may acquire licenses and work business negotiations as well.
- Line Producer: Producer directly involved with the work of the project.
- Project Director/Leader: Manager responsible for the health and timeliness of the project. May manage more than one project at a time.
- Project Coordinator: Takes on a portion of the Project Lead’s duties that the Lead isn’t available.
- Producer: "Holders of the vision" and tasked with facilitating all immediate aspects of game development, from workflow, to budgeting, to scheduling.
- Production Tester: Game Tester dedicated to the Production team. Sometimes considered as a grooming spot for a career in production.
- Art Director: Responsible for managing all artists in larger studios. Its duties may be covered by a lead artist in smaller companies.
- Graphic Designer: Responsible for 2D art, and/or assets outside of the game (e.g., packaging, CD cover, web site, etc).
- Technical Artist: Tasked with the implementation of art in the game through complex conversions and tools. They also develop tools for the rest of the art team.
- Artist: Specialists tasked with drawing visual in-game elements like backgrounds, textures, characters, interface…
- Modeler: Creates 3D art models for characters and levels and often the relative textures.
- Concept Artist: Illustrates and mocks up concept art for characters, environments, UI…
- Character Designer: Works in pre-production to create signature characters for game.
- Cinematics Director: Artist in charge of production of cinematics and cutscenes.
- Cinematic Animator: Responsible for creating and rendering in-game movies.
- Animator: Creates animation and/or designs mocap specs, drive mocap session, selects mocap and integrates into game.
- Interface Artist: Responsible for the creation of game interface, such as menus, HUD and similar.
- Audio Director/Audio Manager/Sound Producer: Oversees the sound design team and coordinates with recording studio. May also be involved in the actual creation of sound effects.
- Sound Designer: Creates sound effects, but also backgrounds and ambiences. Can also author games levels in music games.
- Sound Engineer: Responsible for maintaining the audio equipment. Could also be applied to a mixer or other audio personnel.
- Recordist: Responsible for placing mics and performing the actual recording of the orchestral performance. The engineer and recordist work as a team to record the score
- Foley Artist: Artist that performs sound with found objects.
- Musicians/Composer: Creates the musical underscore for the game using live musicians, synths, samplers and sound libraries.
- Writer: Responsible for textual elements of the game, ranging from the initial story and scenario, to the final dialogues and script.
- Test Manager/Supervisor: Manages entire staff of testing personnel. Oversees scheduling, assignment and staffing.
- Test Lead / Project Lead: Responsible for team of testers; Develops test plan and manages testing process and bug database.
- Tester: Tests the game; reports bugs into bug database.
- Database Administrator: Tester dedicated to building, running and maintaining bug databases.