There was a recent, rather interesting blog post on Entertainment Weekly’s website that asked: “What film directors would you follow anywhere?” Basically, the post talked about how important a director is when choosing what movie you want to see. Being a huge movie fan, I had a bunch of quick answers: Alfonso Cuarón, Danny Boyle, and Guillermo del Toro, to name a few -- the mere mention of their names alone is enough to get me to see a movie.
But when thinking about game designers, my answer wasn’t so easy.
Sure, there are many game designers I adore, but would I follow them anywhere? Would I blindly buy a game just because a certain game designer is attached?
The more I thought about it, the less sure I was.
In my hyperbole-filled, completely optimistic world of puppies and rainbows, I would say the answer to this question is yes (in bold and italics!)! Of course I would follow my favorite game designers anywhere. I want to have Shigeru Miyamoto’s babies, so I would buy anything he is selling.
But, wait. Maybe I need to calm down for a second Maybe I need to put my shirt back on, and really think about this for a second.
As much as I adore the legendary designer (seriously, LET ME HAVE HIS BABIES!), I never purchased Wii Music (a game Miyamoto designed). It just didn’t interest me. And this is coming from the biggest Miyamoto fan on the planet!
So, in answering the question “Is there a game designer you would follow anywhere?” with Miyamoto in mind, the answer is sadly (and surprisingly!) no. Not anywhere. (Although I would buy a Pikmin dating sim, no questions asked.)
I love all three of these designers, but I can’t say with certainty that I would buy any game they created based on nothing but their names alone.
Conversely, though, I had little to no interest in recent Xbox Live Arcade game Costume Quest the first time I laid eyes on it. It looked pleasant enough, but nothing about the game’s initial impressions excited me enough to buy the game the day it was released.
But then I found out the adorable RPG was created by Tim Schafer's Double Fine studios.
And that was all I needed. I bought it right away.
In fact, looking back, I realized that I have actually purchased every single one of Tim Schafer’s games. All of them.
Are they all good? No -- I was ultimately disappointed in Brütal Legend, for example -- but that’s not the question. The question is not whether the designers’ games are good ... it’s whether you would follow those designers anywhere.
And, with Tim Schafer, I guess I would (and have!).
So, in conclusion: I GUESS I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO ANSWER MY OWN QUESTION!
That’s where I need your help! Do you think a game designer’s name is enough to get you to follow them anywhere? If so, who are some designers you would blindly follow, no matter what?
Here is a good scenario to get the conversation started: If Fumito Ueda -- the genius and arguably universally loved creator of ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and the upcoming The Last Guardian -- decided to make a game in a genre you normally care nothing about ... would you still buy it?
If the answer is yes than a game designer’s name really does matter. If the answer is no ... well, maybe you have other priorities outside of a designer’s prestigious moniker. Maybe gameplay is most important. Or graphics. Or story. Maybe a great game designer's name is just icing on the cake.
What do you think? The answer is more difficult (and surprising!) than you may think.
Sound off in the comments!