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Game creators
Posted: Posted June 12th by Jet Presto
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Something I was kinda just thinking about:

Most of us here probably can name some game creators. There's some name recognition with the likes of Hideo Kojima, Hidetaka Miyazaki, Shigeru Miyomoto. Some of us can probably pinpoint the works of, say, Neil Druckmann, or some indie creators like Jonathan Blow, Mike Bithell, or (perhaps for the wrong reasons) Phil Fish (if he still counts at this point [I still actually really like Fez]).

And many of these creators have fans within popular culture. Obviously, Guillermo del Toro was a fan of Kojima's. And George RR Martin is collaborating with Miyazaki for a new FromSoft game. We've also had celebrities show up in games a-plenty by now: coming up with that whole cast of Death Stranding, Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077, and it's happened before too with Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page in Beyond Two Souls, Liam Neeson in Fallout 3, and Martin Sheen in Mass Effect 2/3. So there is some level of interest across mediums from the creators.

But I wonder: do you think we'll see a game creator achieve widespread notoriety? Like, if you've never watched a movie, you have heard the name Steven Spielberg. If you don't read books, you've heard the name JK Rowling. There are creators in other mediums in which success has meant widespread notoriety. I don't think there is anyone - even Miyomoto or Kojima included - that achieves that yet. Do you think this will happen any time soon, or even within our lifetimes?

I suppose some of it is the mysterious nature of game development. I thought maybe it was because games tend to require large teams of people, each responsible for their own area of the games. Like, Neil Druckmann was Uncharted 2/4 and TLoU's director, but it seems from the credits that he wasn't necessarily a singular head of it. (There is a separate "Game Director" listed from what I recall.) And while films have similarly large teams of people working on different aspects of the film, we know they are ultimately in the service of one head creator's vision, right? While Spielberg doesn't create every single thing in his films, he ultimately approves them and is responsible for making everything fit. If something doesn't work with the cinematography, for example, he will talk to the cinematographer who then tries to mix their own sensibilities with what the director discusses wanting. And sometimes the director will change to take in what someone else does, but it's still ultimately the director's decision and the director's vision. (I think Kojima and Miyazaki feel like this more than any other game developer I can think of: you can tell a a Kojima game pretty quickly in the same way you can tell a Spielberg film, if you're a fan of the medium. The works seem to follow primarily Kojima's vision, and it shows.)

And there's something to be said that Rockstar has produced some of the best selling and most popular games of all-time, and yet we know them primarily as "Rockstar" games. Can anyone name a game director for any GTA or Red Dead?

Then I started thinking that maybe this is because big budget games get a bit more oversight from the studios. But...so do big budget movies. And many people can tell you who directed the last Avengers film. Then again, the most studio-influenced films - most often kids films - don't have name recognition with them either. Pretty sure no one knows who directed Hotel Transylvania or even the latest X-Men movie (a franchise rife with studio intervention).

I'm rambling and don't necessarily have a direction for this. But yeah, do you think we'll ever see a game director reach mass recognition even among non-gamers? Why do you suppose that hasn't really been the case yet?

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Markus Persson might count here -- his name is well known at least for people who play games (which, it's 2019 so that's roughly everyone under 40). Sean Murray might be well known for bad reasons. I guess it really depends on press coverage more than anything else.

Posted June 12th by Xhin
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Sky's the limit

But see, I don't think your average person would know who you meant if you started talking about Sean Murray. I know he hit up some late night talk shows, so someone outside gaming culture might be like, "oooh, yeah, that game guy." (I actually have to admit I don't know the name Markus Persson, which I say so you can tell me, not as some larger point about like, "SEE??")

I feel like the first one that will really cross into the general consciousness will be someone like Kojima who is known for multiple games and people will get excited about their next project (I think that certainly has something to do with it: movies can take a while to make, but once they get out of pre-production, don't often take years to do. Most films even wrap principle shooting within a month or two. So directors have more works under their belt.)

Posted June 12th by Jet Presto
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The closest guy we have to that is Shigeru Miyamoto. But since his life has become so private, as well as so many directors, it will be very difficult for game directors to achieve notoriety.

Perhaps when games start doing what movies do and list the director's name at the beginning, they'll have more recognition. As of now the biggest names that come to my mind personally are Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario, Zelda, you know him!), Masahiro Sakurai (Kirby, Smash Bros), Eiji Aonuma (modern Zelda), Martin Hollis (Goldeneye 007), and Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid). I also love Kyle Gabler (World of Goo) and Dean Dodrill (Dust: An Elysian Tail).

Glen Schofield deserves more recognition as the creator/director of Dead Space. He's a director who knows what he wants and gets it!

Posted June 12th by mariomguy
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Todd Howard.

Posted June 12th by Cruinn-Annuin
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Only game creators I can think of off the top of my head are Kojima because he’s the Spielberg of videogames prett much.

Edited June 12th by Brandy
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Eiji Aonuma (modern Zelda)

What's the definition of modern zelda here?

Posted June 12th by Xhin
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Sky's the limit

Apparently, Xhin is a game creator.

Posted June 12th by Unlimited MGTOW
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Unlimited MGTOW
Limitless Freedom

What's the definition of modern zelda here?

He didn't work on the old 2D Zeldas, just OoT and beyond.

Posted June 14th by mariomguy
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It's already happened. Just as J.K. Rowling is a pseudonym, you have Notch. Honestly everyone else has been eclipsed by their creations or their development studio name. Granted it's not on the level of J.K. Rowling, et al. but then the only games of such acclaim that it could call itself a phenomenon have had too many people in the credits or not in a prominent enough titling (Game Designer + Sr. Game Designer is detracting, it's like having Director and Sr. Director, they water each other down). Second problem is branding. You need more than one product. You need to maintain clear prominent titling in short credits across multiple games. The easiest way to brand is of course being attention seeking and placing your name on the cover instead of, or in addition to, the studio names. Books do that by default, and "hot shot filmakers" do it too. You don't even need to consume the media to know who made it. **stream of conscious end**

Posted June 18th by Wandering Anon
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The crediting thing is a good point: there are a lot of titles that make it unclear about who exactly - if anyone - was in charge of the project. Obviously, books just have one name on the cover in the author. Pretty clear who is responsible for the creative choices of the book. Movies have a lot of credits, but "director" makes it pretty clear whose creative vision everything else works around. With games, yeah, there's like, "game designer" and "sr. game designer." Or in, like, the Last of Us, I remember seeing Neil Druckmann credited as something like "story director" and someone else listed as "game director." And while there are plenty of books and movies created by partners, games don't quite have that same feel.

But, see, I don't think it's already happened. And I don't think it's already happened because if I say half of these names we're throwing out there to my parents or even my co-workers of a similar age as me, most of them will never have heard the name "Notch." With games, it feels like they're still treated more as commodities than anything else. Most of those people will have heard of Minecraft, even if they don't get an image in their head when I say it. But if I used the pseudonym or real name of the creator, I don't think most people I know would have any idea who that was. Which is obviously different than how you can go your whole life never reading a Stephen King novel or Toni Morrison poems and recognize the names and that they are writers. It feels like games are still sort of in that indie/arthouse/genre cinema realm, or now that I think about it, comics too: where name recognition is pretty much exclusive to those fans of that medium. (I'm thinking about with comics now: I think a lot of people I know would recognize a few names, like Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore, and mostly from comics, though they have written a lot of stuff besides that. But I don't think people who aren't fans of comics would know names like Jason Aaron or G. Willow Wilson or Matt Fraction.)

I'm personally trying to pay more attention to the people who make games, but yeah, the crediting thing is hard because I'm not entirely sure who sometimes should be paid attention to. It's a bit easier with indie games (like I know I'm going to like a Mike Bithell game, or want to check it out because that name stands out as the main creative force on those games, or similarly I know I'm going to want to try any Jonathan Blow game). This is also true of some major games that have a clear director, like Hidetaka Miyazaki. His fingerprints are all over his games. But...I have been enjoying DOOM and have no idea who the director is. Or I really enjoyed the new Spider-Man, but again, no clue. I know the studio, but not the designers.

Posted June 18th by Jet Presto
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