Richard Garriott Says Most Game Designers “Really Just Suck”
Despite being a key tenet in the Ultima series of games, humility does not appear to be Lord British’s strong suit. Known in real life as Richard Garriott, the developer has had unkind words to say about game designers in general.
The maker of the Ultima series and creator of the new Shroud of the Avatar kickstarter believes that there are not very many talented game developers out there.
“I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am,” said Garriott. “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.”
Garriott shared his views in an interview with PC Gamer, adding that going to school to become a good designer isn’t something he would recommend.
Garriott elaborated on what he meant, stating his belief that artists and programmers are often as good at designing—if not better—than those who hold the job titles due to their understanding of the technology and art that goes in front of the design. Not mincing words, he stated that most designers only get their jobs because they aren’t good at anything else.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
Garriott’s statements may sound like boasts, and several publications, including Gamasutra, took them as such—offering headlines that Garriott referred to as “sensational” in a response to the aforementioned website.
“My point was, that game design is the hardest, but also the most valuable skill to build in the industry,” said Garriott. “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.”