Do Game Companies Need Game Designers?
This question may seem a bit confusing. Isn’t a game designer essential in the process of making games? After all, the game designer is the one who comes up with an idea, or works on an already existing vague idea for a game. The visuals, the game mechanics, the scoring, the text, the sound – the game designer is the one who roughly, and sometimes not so roughly, sets the general feel and look of a game, that should be fun for the player and hopefully bring money to the game company.
So why are there still companies who decide to make games without the aid of a game designer? Not hiring or having a game designer does save a company some money but in the long run, how are they going to make games with the small but essential cog in the big wheel missing? Games, that are fun to play, appreciated by the consumer and target audience and therefore bring in some money.
It is making me sad to see that the game designer is still regarded as someone neglectable. Decisions can be made on a democratic basis. Should it be green? 5 vote yes, three vote no, one vote for mauve… Is this really the right way to make good games? Not having someone around whose sole purpose is to come up with a game mechanism that actually works, is consistent throughout the game, is well-balanced, intuitive to use, easy to grasp and unobtrusively working in the background. Someone who comes up with a rough sketch on character design, with the story for a game (if required), with the overall look and feel – after all, these are the things the consumer sees first. The genius gameplay can only be experienced but the story and visuals grasp the consumer’s first attention.
The game designer is also the one who defines the target audience and keeps in mind what the target audience desires the most. Which look will appeal? Which skill level does the target audience approximately have? A game can be as ingenious as possible – if it does not appeal to the target audience, sales will not be as high as expected. On the long run, not having a game designer – does it really save that much money?
I am asking myself these questions because I have experienced myself that companies are re-structured and completely omit the creative level. There is no head, no lead, no real department where design decisions are made. This kind of structure is fine for any other company that does not rely on selling a product whose sole purpose is to bring fun to households and gamers. For a gaming company, though, it is rather unprofitable neglecting the creative department in favor of saving a few bucks.
A better insight on why a game designer is essential for a games company can be found on Intelligent Artifice’s blog. The article was written in 2007 but has not lost any of its up-to-dateness.
I am actually curious how many game companies without a person in the role as the designer of a game and being responsible for the body and mind of it have published a product that has become a big hit. Not even a big hit, just something that is fun to play, that has a high replayability factor, targets the right audience and has not actually cost more in production than it recouped.
What do you think?
Filed under: Design, game, Game Design, Game Related | 4 Comments
Tags: budget, business, character, company, consumer, fun, Game Design, game designer, gameplay, games, intelligent artifice, mechanics, money, production, recoup, replayability, story, target audience, visuals