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Ultima Creator Richard Garriott Says His 'Game Designers Suck' Comment Was 'Taken Out-of-Context'

Illustration for article titled emUltima/em Creator Richard Garriott Says His Game Designers Suck Comment Was Taken Out-of-Context

Yesterday, game-makers and fans were all up in arms over comments made by Richard Garriott to PC Gamer, where he said, among other things, that "most game designers really just suck."

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Now the man best known for his ground-breaking work on the Ultima games has issued a clarification. On the website for his Portalarium dev studio, Garriott says that his remarks were taken out of context:

By no means did I intend to disparage others who have led the many great games of each era in gaming history. I was trying to say, and show why finding or growing NEW great game designers is hard!

… I really do see a major challenge to our art form, specifically in the area of design. The design of a game is simultaneously 1) the most valuable aspect when it comes to the potential of success of a game, 2) the hardest part of game development to improve over previous efforts because of competition, and 3) the skill set with the least formal and informal training available to game developers.

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Garriott goes on to acknowledge that he could've phrased things better and, just like so many of the people who went at him in the last 24 hours, nods at the bumps in his own design career:

Perhaps my statement that has been quoted so often in recent days could have been presented in a more eloquent fashion. But I stand by the point I was making, that game design is the hardest profession in our business to understand and to learn.

And I certainly am not trying to put my own career on some sort of game design high ground. While I have hit occasional home runs, I have made plenty of unforced errors. I was not attempting to prop myself up with these comments, but rather lament my need...our industry's need for proper training in the most important skill required to make a good game. I never had any formal training either; I have just had more time to learn from my mistakes than most. If what comes from all this is a frank discussion and lively debate on how to best address this issue, then hopefully I've accomplished something.

Words Taken Out of Context

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DISCUSSION

thekleiner
TheKleiner

So here is the context:

“You know, I go back to the day when I was the programmer, I was the artist, I was the text writer, etcetera,” said Garriott. “Every artist we’ve ever hired ever is infinitely better at art than I ever was. I was never a good artist, or audio engineer, or composer. I was a pretty good programmer, but now all of our programmers are better than I am—but if I’d stayed in programming I could probably keep up.

“But other than a few exceptions, like Chris Roberts, I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am. I’m not saying that because I think I’m so brilliant. What I’m saying is, I think most game designers really just suck, and I think there’s a reason why.”

“If you like games, you eventually get to the point where you’d like to make one,” said Garriott. “But if you had this magic art talent as a youth, you can refine your skills and show a portfolio and say, ‘I’m a good artist, go hire me’ If you’re nerdy enough to hack into a computer, programming on your own, you can go to school and learn proper structure, make code samples and go ‘Look, I’m a good programmer, hire me.’

“But if you’re not a good artist and not a good programmer, but you still like games, you become a designer, if you follow me. You get into Q&A and often design.

“And the most valuable part of creating a game is the design, which the programmers are technically executing. And they’d be happy to just execute some of them. But in my mind, most artists and programmers are just as much of gamers as the designers, and I usually find in my history that the artists and programmers are, in fact, as good of designers as the designers. They’re often better, because they understand the technology or the art.

“So we’re leaning on a lot of designers who get that job because they’re not qualified for the other jobs, rather than that they are really strongly qualified as a designer. It’s really hard to go to school to be a good designer.”

I must say that with this context he has a point.

http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/03/19/richard-garriott-game-designers-suck/