Can't tell if hubris or fair criticism
Richard Garriott, known for creating the venerable Ultima series and sometimes known as Lord British, had some harsh truth bombs to rain down on his contemporaries. Speaking with PC Gamer, Garriott said, "I’ve met virtually no one in our industry who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am. I’m not saying that because I think I’m so brilliant. What I’m saying is, I think most game designers really just suck."
Garriott went on to be more constructive, mentioning how most designers often come from QA and don't have skills in programming or the arts that give them a more rounded appreciation for game making, while also mentioning that it's much more difficult to attain scholastic education in game design. At the same time, he also goes on to make more sweeping generalizations, like calling all the designers he's worked with "lazy," citing a tendency to merely iterate: "They go to make one or two changes to a game they otherwise love versus really sit down and rethink, ‘How can I really move the needle here?’"
On one hand, I see the latter issue, the lack of creative vision and ambition. It's something that bothers the heck out of me in mainstream development. It's also true that there aren't as many traditional avenues for one to be schooled in design. Garriott also had praise for certain designers, like Will Wright, Peter Molyneux, and Chris Roberts. On the other hand, Garriott is currently working on another fantasy RPG. Ugh. His criticism also seems to ignore the indie sphere in which oodles of game makers are working on various facets of games including design, sometimes entirely on their own.
Mostly, Garriott comes off as more arrogant and out of touch than thoughtfully critical, especially since it's been some time since he's done anything well-received. Shroud of the Avatar doesn't look like my bag, but it should serve as the fairest barometer as to whether or not his high opinion of himself is fair or not. The fact that more great games exist than ever before despite a lot of industry bull, however, is proof enough that his low opinions of others is a bit off.