Before reading this post, I'd like you to keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and that I am not presenting it as absolute truth, but rather putting it out there and asking for opinions on the matter.
There seems to be a lot of hate directed towards the 'idea guy' in the gaming community.
He adds little to the project in terms of both work and end result. The quality of a game comes down to execution, iteration and polish.
That is at least, if you'll believe the popular opinion on the matter.
I tend to disagree though, and I'd like to explain my views by tying this question into another one: "Can video games be art?"
At first glance, there seems to be very little preventing video games from being an art form. Much like film, it mixes several media to create a new one. Many of the processes required to make a game a reality are considered an art form.
An argument you encounter often is that interactivity, exactly what makes a medium a game, is what keeps it from being a piece of art. People have done a better job than I possibly could explaining why this argument is faulty, so I won't go into that. Where they tend to go wrong though, in my opinion, is when they try to identify the real reason why some people have troubles recognizing games as an art form. Apparently, they are too new as a medium. For one thing, this means that they have a bit of growing to do. Additionally, people who didn't grow up with it, don't fully understand the medium. I don't necessarily disagree with this, but I'd like to point out a very real problem that I think is hindering games.
The lack of appreciation and even depreciation of the 'idea guy'.
What I think is absolutely essential for art, is that the creator has something they want to share with the world. They have a vision for what they want their piece do art to become and make decisions when creating it based on that vision. Not based on what the money thinks it should be, not based on what will go down well with the audience and not even (primarily) based on what will make for the 'better' piece of art.
It's true that everyone in the gaming business, including the janitor, has ideas for games, but let me ask you this question: Does everyone have good game ideas?
Now, I'm not saying that the 'idea guy' should be held on a pedestal and that his contribution to the game, the initial idea, is the only thing that counts. It is still very true that, if the only thing he has to add is the initial idea, he is of not much worth. After all, what worth is a great idea for a painting if you can't paint? And that's what makes an artist, the essential skill set necessary to create his art and the initial idea.
This just leaves one more question, when it comes to making games, who is the painter? Well, that would be the game designer. Because as people have argued before me, game designing is a skill set and I will say more even, it is the only one truly essential to the quality of games.
So where do the other people involved in making a game fit into this metaphor? If the game designer is the painter, the 3d modeler, animator or 2d artist might be the manufacturer of the paint. And the programmers can be the one who made the canvas the painter is using. They are all admirable professions, without them, no painting could be made, and it is pretty awesome if the painter does some of these things himself, but that's not what makes a great artist, it's the technical skill and knowledge as a painter and more importantly, the initial idea and vision.