Game Designer Richard Garriott Says “Words Taken Out of Context”

Game designer Richard Garriott—or Lord British—released a statement via Portalarium today in response to the community backlash over an interview published on PC Gamer. The original article quoted him as saying “Most game designers really just suck” and “I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is as close to as good a game designer as I am.”

“Wow did I strike a nerve! In the midst of a much longer more contextual conversation, PC Gamer noted “Wow, you just gave me my headline!” At that moment, I knew to brace for an out of context backlash…The variations of headlines where I either disparage others, or glorify myself are inaccurate representations of the intent of my full commentary.” Game Designer Richard Garriott

If one looks at yesterday’s headlines, (Leggo My Ego, for example), it could be noted that those statements might be a tad inflammatory. If you grab a single sentence out of a long interview, it would be easy to take it out of context. However, PC Gamer used entire paragraphs in block quotes—it’s hard to take those out of context. The rest of the article largely applauded the RPG pioneer and even went so far as to explain what Garriott was trying to say:

“I inferred that, rather than condemning the entire industry, he was pointing out flaws he perceives in how design talent is assessed and promoted in specific parts of the industry.” Tyler Wilde-PC Gamer

It was the rest of us that took the individual comments for what they were: mean and arrogant. “But, please let me clarify! By no means did I intend to disparage others who have led the many great games of each era in gaming history.” OK, so lets take a look at Garriott’s cleanup letter and see what it is he says he meant.

“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.”

pc games     Damage ControlPerhaps my statement that has been quoted so often in recent days could have been presented in a more eloquent fashion” – Richard Garriott.

Game designer Richard Garriott goes on to talk about the history of game design and how in the old days only one person made a game. That person was a programmer, artist and designer. “The first artist I ever hired was FAR better than I ever was,” he says. “Some programmers who my companies have hired have been better than me, some worse, as I would expect.” It seems that he is trying to be humble but just can’t get it right. “There are designers whose work in many areas is far better than mine. But I also think some of the work I have done as a designer remains a top contribution for its time.”

Oh we get it. There are certainly a few good designers out there, but he is still the best. He says that he can easily hire an artist better than he is, and he can easily hire a programmer better than he is, but when it comes to finding a designer at his level, he is stumped.

Richard Garriott says of game designers:

“It is far more difficult to hire a designer who is clearly capable of leading a top 10 game. For any company, growth only comes when the company finds another leader who can make a top 10 game. Origin only grew when we found people like Chris Roberts and Warren Spector. Most other attempts at creating new game lines failed when we gave the reigns to junior people looking to advance.”

So now it’s the younger guys who can’t design games.

What Gariott needs to hire is a publicist that won’t let him issue statements clarifying his points that contain the same pompous language as the original interview he is cleaning up after.

His unrelenting attitude is unfortunate, because underneath the conceit is an idea that makes a lot of sense.

“Sadly for people who really are passionate about designing the next great game, “game design” remains a hard skill to learn…Designers, who never coded and never drew art, have a far harder path ahead of them. After all, we are making “computer games,” and a deep knowledge of the computer is mighty helpful.”

He laments the fact that it is hard to go to school to learn to be a good designer. He mentions Guildhall at SMU, an expensive private university, as being a good place to go. But other than that, folks with a passion for game design pretty much have to be self-taught. There are plenty of art schools and plenty of programming classes, but would-be designers are often out of luck.

“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.”

  • Shawn Hargrave

    I agree with him most devs are shit. Swtor is the best example of this look at those fools. James ohlen saying he has the best pvp team gabe ametegelo saying ilum will be 100vs100 tors a piece of shit.

    It seems all devs want to do today is clone wow and have to do as little work as possible. Hes right he should stick to his guns.. MMO’s dont go f2p b/c it cost to much to play they go f2p b/c they let the game die or make imcompetent decisions. The sub fee doesnt affect people its making the game worth it most cant and dont

  • Daniel1234

    Kinda think he was spot on. A lot of games any more really seem to just lack innovation . Just try to clone other games.

    • Alberto Martinez

      he didn’t say a lot of games he said everything that ever been made for the last 30 years by anyone other then himself and 2 people he named…really???

  • Rick Mills

    He’s a smart guy – he knew it would be taken out of context and that’s why he said it. I can barely stand listening to him. Sorry if I offend.

  • Steven Vincent

    So massively out of context on this. I don’t even like the guy but the way all these hack journos pervert everything they hear to create some artificial outrage just irritates me.
    His point as I see it; If a company wants to hire an artist or programmer, they have tangible evidence to support their claimed ability. Portfolio, qualifications, published works etc.
    If that company then wants to hire a designer, it is much more difficult to ascertain that the candidate is not only highly talented (less tangible evidence to support this) but also that the candidate would actually be capable of leading a AAA or “Top 10″ development.

    • David Camacho

      Steven Vincent, you have perhaps provided the only words worth reading on this entire page; article included. I applaud your ability to share your perspective opinion in the matter and hope that others can comprehend the point he was trying to make all along.

    • Kevin Cox

      it’s not about what he meant.

      It’s about how he said it.

      He pretty much slapped every dev he ever met in the face and at the same time discourages up and coming students from even trying to get better at their craft.

      “Most other attempts at creating new game lines failed when we gave the reigns to junior people looking to advance.”

      ^Truth hurts? Sure.
      Did it need to be said at all? Er….no. Not at all.

      Senior devs should be encouraging up and comers to take risks and learn from their mistakes instead of making such idiotic remarks.

      So it’s not about context. Not at all.
      It’s about tone.

      He fucked up.

      • Alberto Martinez

        Yep The guy lives in a castle and Calls himself Lord British and still has a rat-tail -hairdo looks like a Narcissist to me

    • Avaloner31

      Yep. Its all for page clicks because thats how they get there money. Its even worse when it comes to reviews and you get some random site review a good game (based on other reviews) and give it a really bad score just so all the meta critic ragers will flock to it and give them money for add revenue.

      This whole Gariot thing seems to have been a gaming media created sh** storm just for page clicks. And this article is incredably biased against the man. Would not surprise me if half the “journos” writing about him even know who he is. Most are probably console gamers so would not have a clue.

  • Mike Coulombe

    It’s really not about the actual message, but more about the way it is conveyed. I still firmly think he’s being extremely smart and adapting to modern media/press. He does so by getting his hands dirty, going in there, using provocative words. Because you know what?… Bad press, is still press. And this guy has been a ghost for a decade.

  • Rasmus Nielsen

    Still a tool trying to get press, and you’re all feediing him it, yay GBTV, help him get press and sell more terrible games with terrible stories and terrible gameplay!

    • Kevin Cox

      Uh wrong.

      Good games can sell themselves
      Bad ones won’t

      Quit acting like GB or other gaming press have some sort of power over consumers.

      People are capable of making their own decisions.

      In the end stats and figures will decide what games stay and what games die. No single news site has control over that.

      Drama queen.

  • ryan phillips

    ok, so using basic psychology it’s easy to determine this guy needs major attention.
    it’s not like anyone bought something like Skyrim, or anything, right Dick? can i call you Dick?

    • Alberto Martinez

      lol exactly….don’t Forget Fallout 3

  • Ethan Birkemo

    Maybe he need to get that of his chest, he seems very passionate about his craft. I have never played one of his games, but I respect him for his willingness to take a stand on what he feels is right, that’s never an easy proposition.

  • Quiet

    Am i the only one who doesnt think he was trying to be an ass? Hes saying design is a hard skillset to hire for or grow, because its incredibly abstract. Even more so than art, because the portfolio of design work is harder to build. Of course he spent the whole time talking about how great he was, they were writing an article about him.

    • Thomas Vu

      Exactly, he starts off by saying how great he is. Then says a few lines about how everyone but him and 3 others are good. Then finishes off by saying he is badass.

      I understood the context of what he was saying. Its how he said it that made him look like a jackass.

    • lunaras13

      Few people “try to be an ass”, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t , and doesn’t excuse them from being one.

      • Alberto Martinez

        Exactly…what he really meant and felt came out in that first interview everything else is damage control…also FYI he hasn’t played any games by any of the people he is pre-judging..he admits he doesn’t game he just likes to design.

    • Alberto Martinez

      What he said would be the same as if for instance Jon Bon Jovi said he was the greatest singer in ever and that only Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson were the only two singers on par and all other singers over the last 30 years sucked…..yeah…right

  • Kevin Cox

    It doesn’t matter what he meant.
    However he may have meant it, if you say “I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is as close to as good a game designer as I am,” you’re gonna get flak for it.

    I don’t care what the facts are concerning his skills as opposed to other devs.

    If he says that kinda shit, noone will want to work with him.

    You’re “skill” is pretty meaningless if everyone thinks you’re an ass.

    “Most other attempts at creating new game lines failed when we gave the reigns to junior people looking to advance.”

    Fact or not, you don’t say stupid crap like that in a public forum. Dumb fuck should level his speechcraft.

    See what i did thar?

  • Todd Maw

    I wouldn’t call him conceited after reading this. I think it’s fair for someone who is considered within the industry to be one of the best, to consider himself the best. If you are at his level, and not going to work every day thinking you are the best out there, or at least striving to be, then what are you doing?

    He freely admits it is easy to find better artists and programmers than he, but design is a whole ‘nother bag. I think his comments are fair, and within this context far easier to comprehend than the last article.

    • Alberto Martinez

      he hasn’t been the Best in over 30 years..hes been surpassed numerous times he is the guy who invented fire who look at everything modern man has made and gone …meh….i made fire!

  • theunwarshed

    he said what he meant and meant what he said. this backpedaling is typical of today’s male. say something outrageous and bold, don’t get the response/support from your audience and then try to rehabilitate yourself. what a mama’s boy! if you’re gonna go loud and bold, then you had better have the stones and ability to back it up.

    • DoctorOverlord

      I think people don’t have a problem with arrogance as long as it is backed up by consistent successes. The moment someone starts to have failures and that arrogance is no longer tolerated and needs to be toned down until they prove themselves again.

  • Russell Hunt

    I LOVE RG and can’t wait for more! Shroud of the Avatar has already met it’s first goal and about to hit it’s second :) I can’t wait to see what the trolls try to do next to him hahaha. Lord British rules all!!!!!! Also you know the trolls agree with what he said and that makes it even more hilarious to me haha.

  • Revanhavoc

    Classic backtrack…Saw that one coming. Or was it?

    Arrogance like Garriot expressed is never rewarded.

    But what I would like to know is did he really slip up and allow his arrogance to show, or is he more media savvy that I’m giving him credit for? By media savvy I mean does he have the political skill to “design” his comments to maximize exposure?

    I don’t know the answer, but if the old saying holds true :

    “Any press is good press.”

    • DoctorOverlord

      Actually as I mention above, arrogance is tolerated as long as you keep being constantly successful. If you start having major failures, then arrogance comes off as clueless conceit (regardless of your past successes)

      Arrogance usually indicated an unwillingness to admit your mistakes. That only works as long as you can keep showing everyone you’re not making any major ones.

      I agree that this was a calculated media statement. RG has repeatedly shown that he loves the spotlight and knows how to get it on himself. He made a blatantly inflammatory statement and got press for it. Then he gets more press by ‘clarifying’ his original statement. Twice the bang for the buck.

      I can’t say I ever liked his games but even I have to admit RG knows how to play the press.

    • Alberto Martinez

      yeah he i just lost all interest in what this man is doing at this point, look at how both Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) and the guy who is doing Camelot Reborn are promoting their games..that’s how an old school games designer comes out with a new idea for a project..Garriott should have taken notes…

  • Nathan Solinsky

    He should definitely not bury himself like this, unless he has nothing to lose. If Shroud bombs, he will become a laughing stock, if it’s not already too late.

    Ima let you finish, but I’m the greatest designer of all time, of all time!