Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott ruffled more than a few feathers when he announced that "most game designers just really suck" earlier this week, and that he rarely meets someone who "is close to as good a game designer" as he is. However, he's since expanded on this somewhat inflammatory comment.
We've chronicled the whole thing below.
“I think there’s really very few great game designers," Garriott originally told PC Gamer during an interview about Shroud Of The Avatar. "I think Chris Roberts is one of them, Will Wright’s another, Peter Molyneux is another. They clearly exist, but on the whole, I think that the design talent in our industry is dramatically lower than we need, as an industry. It’s a very hard skill to learn."
“Other than a few exceptions, 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.”
The reason, according to Garriott, is that pure game designers often find it difficult to make it into the industry without broader qualifications, and sometimes enter via QA or related fields. Pure design is difficult to teach and learn, meaning that well-trained and rounded designers are in short supply.
“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,” he confusingly added. “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.”
“And every designer that I work with – all throughout life – I think, frankly, is lazy.”
Oh boy. This comment cause no small amount of backlash, prompting Garriott to address his critics on Gamasutra.
“My point was that game design is the hardest but also the most valuable skill to build in the industry. That every company lives and dies based on the talent of its game design team, and that as an industry we are not doing so well creating the talent we need in this industry because educational systems have not caught up in this area as well as programming and art.
“I was not trying to toot my own horn, rather state that game design is hard.”
We reckon that he could have made this point without saying, "I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am," but here's hoping that Shroud Of The Avatar will live up to this latest controversy.