Ex-Relic design director Alexandre Mandryka argues
that because designers "feel like they need to protect their 'phony baloney jobs'" and have a "poorly defined title that doesn't offer clear career paths" they are forced into a defensive position.
According to Mandryka, many designers go on to suffer "Old Grumpy Designer Syndrome" as their career does not progress as they would expect -- which is what the bulk of his article is about. But he puts its roots into studio culture and how designers are viewed, and view themselves.
Since their job can be poorly defined or understood by those around him, he argues, this "tends to makes them defensive. With the awkward task of 'coming up with the fun,' limited authority, unclear processes, and inefficient metrics for success, it is understandable that with rising stakes, the OGD will resort to bringing people down around him, in a desperate attempt to shine by comparison."
On the other hand, other disciplines have formal processes around skill development and critique, which helps them improve and find confidence.
"A better structure that recognizes the different specialties of design can also make the best of each designer. Looking at programming, which is actually explicitly segmented by functional role -- like 3D engineering, AI, or tools -- you will also see positions that correspond to different levels of abstraction, like architect or manager. Art also brings a great top-down hierarchy between artistic vision, concept art and actual asset building.
"Furthermore, it incorporates critique as an established part of the creative process, which resonates with programming's code review. Designers, on the other hand, are often ... well ... 'designers', a poorly defined title that doesn't offer clear career paths," he writes.
The full feature, in which he details
how to identify and treat sufferers of Old Grumpy Designer Syndrome, is live now on Gamasutra.