Get in the Game

Sports video-game producers keep projects on track.
By TFK Kid Reporter Ethan Zhang
Still image from the video game, NHL 22
Evgeni Malkin, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, protects the puck in this shot from the video game NHL 22.

Someone who likes sports might dream of becoming a professional athlete. Someone who likes playing video games might covet a career as a professional gamer. For people who like both, there’s a perfect third option: Consider a job as a sports video-game producer.

Andy Agostini and Clint Oldenburg are video-game producers at EA Sports. Video-game producers are the people who oversee the entire process of creating a video game. They manage a team of programmers, designers, and artists to make sure that a new product is successfully developed. Agostini is a producer on the National Hockey League (NHL) game development team. Oldenburg, a former National Football League (NFL) player, works on the Madden football team. 

While growing up, both Agostini and Oldenburg loved playing video games, but neither thought about turning that love into a career. “When I was a kid, video games were sort of starting up,” Agostini says. “I never thought I would become a video-game producer.”

Clint Oldenburg (left) poses with former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning. As part of his role at EA Sports, Oldenburg attends NFL games to analyze player performance. This helps him determine ratings for Madden.

Both say that their favorite part of the job is working with their teammates. “We have people with so many skill sets,” says Oldenburg. “I feel like I’m working with the smartest and most creative people in the world.”

Agostini agrees. “The people I work with are so bright and creative,” he says. 

The hardest part of the job? Both producers find the key challenge to be the time crunch of producing a new game by the determined deadline. “We have so many great ideas we want to do in our games, but we only have a limited amount of time to do it,” says Oldenburg.

Andy Agostini, of the NHL development team at EA Sports, has been a video-game producer for about 15 years.

Agostini has advice for kids who aspire to become video-game producers: There’s no one path to take. “There are a lot of industries attached to video games,” he says. “You don’t have to be a programmer to be a producer.”

Oldenburg has advice for kids too. “Start getting ideas of what you like and don’t like about games,” he says. “And there are also many resources online to teach yourself how to create. . . . Creating is a skill.”