It's an incredibly specific job, and somebody's gotta do it
The bigger the game, the more people it takes to make it a reality. But when you have hundreds of people toiling away on one project, figuring out who's contributing to what can get a little tricky. Super-specific job titles to the rescue! Why have a team of equally responsible designers when you could have Lead, Project Manager, Assistant, Associate and Assistant Lead variations of every position imaginable? That way, there's absolutely zero confusion as to who is doing exactly what!
But in the quest to make every piece of the puzzle feel unique, some honorary titles can get a bit... convoluted. Ever watched the credits to a game and thought "I wonder what that person actually does?" Me too! To refresh my memory, I scoured through the credits of some of the past year's biggest productions - Far Cry 4, Destiny, Titanfall, and Assassin's Creed Unity - and omitted names so as not to single anyone out. But rest assured, all of the following are actual job titles that you can spot in credits and on business cards. Maybe you're also looking for a career working as...
What I'm picturing: "EUREKA!" moments don't just happen on their own - they're orchestrated. When employees arrive at a brilliant new idea for their game, they assume that it was just a spontaneous stroke of genius; a moment of serendipitous brainstorming. Only the Realization Directors know the truth: the inception of that idea was planned years ago, fed to the game designers through subtle cues and subliminal messaging during the course of their daily lives. Truly, the Realization Directors are the puppet masters pulling our cerebral strings from unseen shadows.
The more likely, mundane reality: These people assist the creative director to ensure that the game stays true to the team's vision.
What I'm picturing: After everyone else is finished with their work and leaves the office, this person diligently walks around to each and every computer, closing files, programs, and browser windows while making sure to Save All Changes. Clicking hundreds of "X" buttons day after day isn't glamorous, but it pays the bills.
The more likely, mundane reality: Someone who's brought on to ensure that the game finishes on time.
Lead Compliance Specialists
What I'm picturing: Feeling lazy today? Think your bosses don't have a clue what they're talking about? Well, guess what: the Lead Compliance Specialists have your family, and you don't want to know what they'll do to them if you don't cooperate, now. You think making games is a game? The Lead Compliance Specialists will break you down like cardboard boxes at a recycling center, until you're no longer capable of a generating a single thought that goes against company policy or the brand.
The more likely, mundane reality: The enforcers of rules and corporate policy within the office.
What I'm picturing: When you need three cheetahs, a humpback whale, and a gaggle of geese STAT, you call the folks in the Animals Production department. They don't just render or program them in boring old code, either - they produce them, overseeing an extensive network of breeders and animals in heat to guarantee the most desirable traits. Once the requested animal is born and matures over the course of years, only then is it ready to be motion captured into its virtual form. Magnificent.
The more likely, mundane reality: These people design animals that populate the game.
What I'm picturing: Your ears do not detect airborne vibrations without the permission of the Sound Masters. An ancient sect of immortal wizards, the Sound Masters have spent eons dictating the ebb and flow of noise. If you hear a melodic harmony, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If you narrowly avoid a car crash because of loud honking, it is because the Sound Masters will it so. If someone puts an air horn directly to your head and blasts you until your ears bleed, it is because the Sound Masters will it so.
The more likely, mundane reality: Audio engineers who determine what noises sound like in the game.
What I'm picturing: Rarer than a unicorn and more elusive than the winged Fae, the Ergonome is a wood-dwelling creature long believed to be naught more than a myth. Diminutive in stature, it skulks about the village at night and uses its bulky, gnomish physique to support the lower backs of townsfolk while they sit down. What feels like sturdy lumbar support to them is actually the work of the Ergonome, which chuckles to itself knowing that it has spared another commoner a life of lower back pain.
The more likely, mundane reality: This is a respectable job title written in French, which I don't speak. Ergo, gnome.
Line Design Director
What I'm picturing: You think drawing a straight line is easy? HAH! You couldn't be more wrong. After years upon years of dedicated study and training in a remote mountain facility, the Line Design Director emerges with a prized power: the ability to draw a perfectly straight line, freehand. This kind of supernatural talent fetches a ludicrously high price, whether you're on Wall Street, the black market, or a cubicle in Montreal.
The more likely, mundane reality: A producer who manages day-to-day content strategy.
Additional Universe Creation
What I'm picturing: Literally God. I can think of no other entity whose profession expands the far reaches of our seemingly infinite universe, turning that which isn't into that which is.
The more likely, mundane reality: Someone who writes blurbs to fill any gaps in the game's lore or backstory.
Head of Art
What I'm picturing: In the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, this person has transformed their skull into a living piece of radiant artwork. As the Head of Art slowly paces back and forth around the office in respectful silence, employees can't help but notice the striking still-life adorning this particular worker's cranium. They'll be so inspired by this avant-garde display of headism artistry that they'll hastily return to their graphical work with newfound vigor, the Head of Art simply nodding with serene, monk-like approval.
The more likely, mundane reality: Leads the art team.
What I'm picturing: A sentient gamepad, given life after a horrific accident involving radioactive AA batteries inserted during a thunderstorm. By day, it improves video games, offering developers insight on the subtleties of player comfort. By night, it goes face-to-face-buttons with the forces of evil as The Controller, a potent piece of psychic plastic with the power to bend minds like it twiddles joysticks. But not in that way, you degenerate.
The more likely, mundane reality: This person is in charge of accounting operations across the company.
What I'm picturing: An author the size of a skyscraper, forced to use the world's largest MacBook Air in order to sharpen his craft. He knows that any sudden movements would surely crush the innocent citizens below like ants, so he stands stationary, like a benevolent protector of the skies. For a small fee, you can take an elevator up to his shoulders in the hopes of glimpsing some passages from his next literary work.
The more likely, mundane reality: The person who wrote the dialogue for the Tower, Destiny's main social hub.
Server TNT Engineers
What I'm picturing: Sometimes, when your game's servers keep glitching out, disconnecting players and dropping matches like clockwork, there's nothing you can do to fix the problem. And at that point, you might as well just blow up the whole damn thing and start over. This is where the Server TNT Engineers come in - they'll rig up your server mainframe with indisputably illegal amounts of dynamite, blasting powder, and other assorted explosives. From there, it's just a matter of evacuating your employees from the building, pushing down on the plunger with a satisfying ker-PLUNK, and enjoying the fireworks from afar.
The more likely, mundane reality: The go-to tech people for fiddling with TNT networking software.
Matchmaking Engineering Lead
What I'm picturing: The Matchmaking Engineering Lead has two distinct, but equally useful responsibilities. When they're not carving small sticks of wood which create fire via friction, they're pairing together perfect couples on internet dating sites. Either way, there's going to be some heat.
The more likely, mundane reality: A chief programmer that designates how users will be matched up during multiplayer.
Group Manager EMEA Acquisition & Loyalty
What I'm picturing: A regal knight errant of the Emea clan, this nobleman has been tasked with bolstering the throne's forces as the kingdom prepares for war. Through his wisdom and guidance, militias will be honed into seasoned troops, and entire provinces will swear loyalty to the king's name.
The more likely, mundane reality: Someone who handles marketing in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Which is still pretty cool, to be honest.
Boot Flow Testers
What I'm picturing: Beer lovers around the world know its name: Das Boot, the footwear-shaped glass that can deliver 92 oz. of your favorite brew directly to your drooling mouth. Such a terrifying, awe-inspiring vessel of alcohol didn't just pop into existence - it was thoroughly assessed by a team of Boot Flow Testers. They were the ones who discovered the secret to downing Das Boot: remember to tilt it when the bubble hits the heel.
The more likely, mundane reality: These testers ensure that the game starts up as intended.
Program Managers II
What I'm picturing: This high-octane sequel to the blockbuster thriller Program Managers will have you at the edge of your seat like a toddler at the grown-ups table. When Jodie and Steven discover that the malevolent computer virus they thought was dead is back on the 'net, it's time to boot up their Uber-laptops for one last job. This time, the code is for keeps in Program Managers II: Executable!
The more likely, mundane reality: Another team of people who manage programs.
What I'm picturing: A delightfully resourceful chap who knows his way around a multitude of gizmos and gadgets. Whatever will he tinker with next?
The more likely, mundane reality: The highest-ranking member of the R&D team at a large corporation.
What I'm picturing: Gladiatorial combat is not for the weak. You must prove your strength as a warrior if you wish to fight for glory - and all pass judgment before the Combatants Testers. They will bend you to the point of breaking, putting your body through rigorous physical exertion and preparing your mind so that you may speak confidently in the presence of the great Caesar. By the time you march out onto the gritty dirt of the arena, thousands of bloodthirsty onlookers fervently chanting your name, you will hate the Combatants Testers for what they put you through - but you will also love them, for they have taught you well.
The more likely, mundane reality: These people test enemy AI.
You do... what, exactly?
Hey, maybe I'm just jealous of these fine workers - 'Editor' doesn't have quite the same flair to it as some of these titles. Know of any other convoluted job titles in game credits? Or maybe you know a few deliberately goofy titles, like the Sleep Deprivation Team, Shadows, and Render Wranglers listed in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's credits.
And if you're looking for more goofy features, check out The biggest spoilers of 2014 that you'll in no way see coming and Everyday gaming phrases that mean something very different to non-gamers.