As much as I hate to admit it, I've spent far more time learning about the artistic side of games. Next to art, I have invested my time as a programmer, and the least as a designer. In fact, I have been tempted to pursue the role of a cg artist creating content for animation and film. This is unfortunate in my case, because I began my path as an aspiring game designer. At some point, not too long ago I found that I was not equipped with the tools to design a good game.
I imagine that this same direction has been taken by many others. While a game's graphics are important, a compelling scenario open for engaging interaction is the core of a good game. As a student of game design, I can admit that I have less experience with the things that matter the most; flow, interactivity, emergent game-play, clarity, and simplicity.
The priority is up for debate, but the general order is; Functionality, then accessibility, unfolding interactivity, story, then graphics. There are more components around than this, and every game is geared towards a unique audience.
But I wonder, does the aspiring game designer start as such? Do artists transcend to design? Does a company's needs prevent a good artist from becoming a good designer? Which current successful designers began as artists?