Quick, name ten famous game designers. OK, now name ten famous movie directors. Which list took you longer? Even if you're a serious gamer, the list of movie directors probably came out quicker. Patrick Dugan helps explain why in an excellent post on the small but growing phenomenon of the celebrity game designer.
While movie studios often sell a movie as the singular vision of a single auteur, games or more often sold as products than statements. With games, "it was far simpler to associate that content with a genre, or better yet, a franchise brand, than it was to associate it with a personality," as Dugan puts it.
Perhaps this is for the best. After all, most modern games are produced by a large group of people, not just a celebrity designer that can serve as a public face for the project. Even this is changing, though, with high profile, independent projects like flOw and Super Columbine Massacre RPG being closely associated with a single designer (Jenova Chen and Danny Ledonne, respectively). In an internet world where anyone can easily make and distribute a game, literally anyone can be a celebrity designer.
Personally, we just hope this growing trend of attention for the people behind the games doesn't grow into outright celebrity worship. The line between respect for a designer's vision and Us Weekly style obsession with everything they do isn't as thick as you might think.