Cult of the Game Gods

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It’s already been well documented why the reception to Mighty Number 9 has been less than stellar. For those unfamiliar as to the reasons behind why this happened, here’s a good video summary of it:

So instead of repeating what everyone has done in pointing out how colossal a train wreck this game has turned into, let’s approach this fiasco from another angle.

Miyamoto. Cliffy B. Kojima. Do any of these names ring a bell to you? For those unfamiliar with them, these are the names of some of the more vocal game developers out there and considered to be some of the most influential thought leaders in this industry. Game journalists would sacrifice a lot in order to snag an interview with one of these developers, right down to being coerced into cheerleading their company’s products just to do so. This is the reason as to why sometimes you’ll hear these people being labeled as “Game Gods,” that these people are the sole driving force behind every major decision being made in the game’s development, that nobody else has the same level of creative genius that they do within their team, and that you should treat everything they say to the lowly journalist they bestow their wisdom upon as gospel, because they are truly Gods who know how to create the perfect video game every. Single. Time.

But Mighty Number 9 has proven that this label is false and shattered the illusion to the point that it’s futile to try and hide the real truth ever again. And while game designers and programmers who’re singled out by the press do play a big role in whatever games they’re working on, their impact when they leave the company they’ve helped make successful is sometimes not as devastating as you think it might be. So here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about:

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Tomonbu Itagaki

You’ve probably heard of this guy if you were there at the beginning of Team Ninja’s inception. His team was responsible for keeping Tecmo relevant and in the black with their Dead or Alive series.1 Itagaki left Tecmo right before they merged with Koei, but Team Ninja’s doing fine without them; Dead or Alive 5 feels a lot less clunky than its predecessor, and Itagaki’s first game didn’t make that much of a splash despite getting preferential treatment from Nintendo so it could be a console exclusive for the Wii U.

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Rob Pardo

This guy is kind of not fair to use since he’s had such a huge influence behind Blizzard Entertainment’s game development philosophy. Basically he’s the reason why the company has a culture of being open to feedback from fans and showcasing all of the balance changes they’ve implemented in the latest patch for their games. However, he was not the lead designer for Starcraft II, nor Hearthstone, or even Overwatch, 2 and well, look how the latter two ended up. 

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Jason West and Vince Zampella

These two were the former founders of Infinity Ward, that company responsible for all of those Call of Duty Games. In a way, their personality was similar to that of Keji Inafune, except instead of leaving their parent company to form another one, then get a kickstarter project rolling and end up with 4 million dollars in the bank to squander it all, their first order of business was to sue their parent company for not letting them do whatever they want, despite already being so well off in life that they have more money than they know what to do with.3 Also, do I really have to explain the current state of Infinity Ward ever since those two guys were kicked out of there over half a decade ago? I really don’t have to, right? 

This “Game God” mentality needs to stop. Yes, these people are way better than we are in knowing what it takes to make a good video game, but just because they’re better doesn’t mean they’re infallible, and Mighty Number 9 is the perfect example of why putting blind faith in these so-called “Game Gods” is never a healthy idea.


  1. The name Dead or Alive had a very meaningful name, because just like with Final Fantasy, this game was going to determine if they were going to stay in business or not. 
  2. This is really going to suck if we do find out in a future interview that he actually was heavily involved in it but couldn’t saying anything about that until the game was finally released. 
  3. Like with most sensationalist journalism, the announcement of the trial going off was never truly followed up by the same press that mentioned it in the first place, but it feels like the former Infinity Ward guys had a really weak case to work on and decided to settle the case outside of court. 
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