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edwinbradford

Name another industry whose "Designers" are programmers?

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Hi all, Subject matter says it all. I come from a long career in graphic design where of course designers are trained for around 4 years in the faculty of arts. When I first got into the games industry I was shocked to find that games designers, possibly the most important creative role for the team, come from programming courses or are ex-programmers. It lead me to wonder if there are any other industries where the title "designer" is given to someone from a science or engineering background. Product designers, fashion designers, magazine designers, set designers, graphic designers, I can't think of one? Architects learn a mixture of science and art but the emphasis is on art and they're not called "designers". Is it healthy for the creativity of our industry that game play design is being done by people trained to think logically and not creatively? Of those of you who are working in companies commercially, are your game designers from creative or engineering backgrounds? I'm sure the results will make interesting reading. Cheers all.

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Original post by edwinbradford
Of those of you who are working in companies commercially, are your game designers from creative or engineering backgrounds?


Mixed.

Surely the title 'designer' applies to anyone who 'designs' things?

In my limited experience, game designers can be anything from gameplay designers (e.g. same skillset as designing pen+paper games) to level designers (basic 3d art skills) to gameplay scripting (simple programming).

It's a catch-all term used for anyone who isn't a c++ programmer or hardcore artist, but who has some creative input.

Why do you find it shocking that programmers sometimes do 'creative' things?

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Game designers aren't all programmers. Many are, and the two go hand in hand, but it's not always like that. Some game designers have creative/artistic backgrounds. I agree that it could be an issue if all designers were programmers and weren't very creative, but those things aren't really mutually exclusive. You can be a great designer, great programmer, and a creative thinker.

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Product designers, fashion designers, magazine designers, set designers, graphic designers


Those are all visual designers. In games, designers are usually the people who are responsible for the game experience, ie. coming up with what actions and challenges a player has to do, and why that would make it fun.

The people that are responsible for the looks of the game, are generally exclusively from an artistic background, but I don't think having an artistic background would by definition make you a better gameplay designer.

In the end, it just comes down to who is able to do the best job at it, but I don't really think that either an engineering background or a visual design background would give you much of an advantage over the others.

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Original post by edwinbradford
Product designers, fashion designers, magazine designers, set designers, graphic designers, I can't think of one?


Bah.

Fashion designers know how to sew. Set designers can use a saw and a paint roller. Aircraft designers have enough engineering knowledge to mock up test models.

Though personally, I believe gameplay design needs to be a non-artistic endeavor. It's mostly mathematics, and needs a scientific approach to understand the feasibility of the idea, how to take a raw idea and translate it into mechanics, and doing the due diligence to make sure the mechanic can't be broken.

The positions often called 'game designer' in the industry don't do that though. Diagramming plot, designing characters, doing level creation, making dialogue... those are artistic endeavors. Rule creation? Not so much.

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Thanks for the quick replies. No-one has another example of an industry where "designers" are not trained in art or design then? Especially in the entertainment industry of which we're a part.

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Why do you find it shocking that programmers sometimes do 'creative' things?


*sometimes*. Of course they do but you can't equate the level of creativity from a science of engineering background with one from the arts, I think most people would accept that as a given.

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Surely the title 'designer' applies to anyone who 'designs' things?


If I design a building tonight will that make me an Architect?

Quote:

...but I don't really think that either an engineering background or a visual design background would give you much of an advantage over the others.


I agree and those are broad classifications of course. I cannot see good designers coming any more from Artist roles than from Programming. But the entertainment industry is a lot bigger than just artists and programmers.

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I have a qualification in yacht design and marine engineering and have designed yachts and small boats.
The training for the job involved no design training it was nearly all hands on actually building the boats before you were able to go away and say "right now I know how to build a yacht I can go away and design my own".

In the games industry I've also worked for two companies who simply didn't employ designers at all.

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Original post by edwinbradford
Is it healthy for the creativity of our industry that game play design is being done by people trained to think logically and not creatively?

Logical thought isn't creative?

Too many artists believe this false dichotomy, and appropriate creativity exclusively for themselves, typically annoying or insulting technical professionals in the process. Worse, they use that as a cover for a lack of comprehensive consideration and mathematically rigid reasoning on their parts, meaning their wonderfully "creative" designs are often barely usable. There is plenty of creative, lateral thinking required in excelling technically, and plenty of technical facility required for top-flight creativity.

Put it to rest. You'll be better at what you do, regardless of what you do, for it.

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Original post by edwinbradford
*sometimes*. Of course they do but you can't equate the level of creativity from a science of engineering background with one from the arts, I think most people would accept that as a given.

hahaha. where do I sign up for creativity school? My massive left brain is causing me neck problems.
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If I design a building tonight will that make me an Architect?
If you're consistently paid to do so? Yes.

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Surely the title 'designer' applies to anyone who 'designs' things?


If I design a building tonight will that make me an Architect?


No, it just makes you an amateur building designer. [smile]

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