Game Designers in the Spotlight

To this day, game designers are not awarded the significance to which they are actually entitled and that is taken for granted with respect to authors in the fields of literature, theater or music – although there are, of course, differences between the phases of development and realization of the different authors and works. A Plea with Historic Overview illuminates the specifics of game designers.

The game designer must be named on the box cover! That has never been taken as a matter of course. The famous Coaster Proclamation from 1988, signed by Alex Randolph and other noted game designers, was an important signal and marked the start of a gradual change. However, naming the designer is still not a consistent, natural thing. Not even in the media. Recognition comparable to book authors, for instance, has not been reached even today.

GAMES ALSO HAVE AUTHORSUnder the slogan "GAMES ALSO HAVE AUTHORS", the SAZ has been starting a campaign in June 2011, advertising that game designers are mentioned in all publications and promotional contexts related to their games and seen more clearly in the public as well as book authors.

Games are cultural assets – a true statement that, of course, has not automatically been internalized and has not had a visible impact on our society just by the acceptance of the SAZ into the German Cultural Council. For example, game reviews in newspapers appear, if at all, mostly under Leisure or Miscellaneous in the weekend supplement or as shopping tips prior to the Christmas trade. Almost nothing game-related can be found anywhere in the feature pages – at best, electronic games are reviewed here, albeit often with mixed feelings. For this reason, the SAZ advocates a stronger social and cultural notice of games and their designers!

Our goal is to emphasize positive examples. The companies have a crucial significance in this context. They are the ones that publish and market games. So the extent to which the designer of a game is also recognized is essentially in their hands. The Big Publisher Overview (Update as of May 27, 2011 - PDF download 27 KB) shows that the companies could still do much more. But it also shows that there are actually some positive and outstanding examples:

The bottom of the box is used by Hans im Glück nowadays to present the designers in image and text — til now on sides of the bottom where you find still the illustrator. This is really exemplary and a good adaptation of the forms of presentation as is common in books. Look, for example, at the games Santa Cruz and Maori.

The game instructions are used by some publishers, at least with the big games, to provide an introducing of the designer and sometimes of the artist, too. Look, for example, at some instructions of Abacus, Drei Magier, Haba, Kosmos and Nexus. The game instructions of Container, released by Valley Games, deserve special mention: they devote an entire page to the obituary of Franz-Benno Delonge, the co-designer of this game who died before the game was published.

Company websites are used by some publishers, providing particular inquiry forms that enable a targeted search and the presentation of designers and artists. Look here, at the examples of the publishers Eggert, Franjos, Kallmeyer, Kosmos and Zoch. Clever Games gives the game designers some space for an own presentation (le mot de l'inventeur).

On its fair booths, the Heidelberger Spieleverlag presented, with its Designer Picture Posters, the creative faces behind the games in a very striking way at the Spiel ’09 in Essen. Our compliments! And Kosmos has announced game designers on their stand in Essen 2010 with impressive boards.

In advertising, e.g., in ads and brochures, one can rarely find the designer's name as yet, not counting those ads in which the name on the picture of the box is legible.

The presentation of the designers' names is done in different ways: in some cases, the word "game designer" or "designer" is put in front of the name; in other cases, the colloquial expression "game idea" is used. The latter, however, is extremely problematic since ideas cannot be protected. For this reason, we advocate using the terms "game designer", "author” or "inventor".