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The top video games designers of the past

In the earlier stages of the gaming industry, games were typically developed by a small team of programmers, with a key individual known as the "designer" taking on a central role. The designer was responsible for generating the initial concept and laying out the framework for gameplay and content. During the 1980s and 1990s, many of these game designers gained recognition among the public for their contributions to the field.

As the 1980s and 1990s unfolded, a growing number of these designers stepped into the spotlight, their names becoming familiar to gamers worldwide: Richard Garriott, Ron Gilbert, Sid Meier. Through their innovative ideas, they pushed the boundaries of what games could achieve. Their contributions played a significant role in shaping the trajectory of the industry as a whole.

While major game studios dominated the industry, the 90s also saw the rise of independent game designers. These designers often embraced experimental gameplay mechanics and artistic expression, paving the way for the indie gaming scene that would flourish in later years.

Her's a list of the most popular and perhaps the most influential video game designers from that golden age of video gaming.

author occupation known for
Al Lowe video game designer, programmer, musician Leisure Suit Larry
Alexey Pajitnov video game designer and computer engineer Tetris
American McGee Game designer Doom II, Quake, American McGee's Alice
Andrew Braybrook software engineer, game programmer Paradroid, Uridium
Bill Williams Game designer, programmer Alley Cat, Necromancer
Brian Fargo game designer, programmer, producer The Bard's Tale 2 and 3, Wastelands, Fallout
Brian Moriarty Video game designer, writer Wishbringer, Loom
Brian Reynolds Videogame designer Civilization, Alpha Centauri
Chris Beatrice Game designer, artist Caesar, Lords of the Realm
Chris Crawford Video game designer Eastern Front, Balance of Power
Chris Metzen Writer, creative director, and voice actor Warcraft, Diablo, StarCraft
Chris Roberts game designer Wing Commander, Times of Lore
Chris Sawyer game developer Transport Tycoon, Roller Coaster Tycoon
Chris Taylor Video game designer, entrepreneur Total Annihilation, Dungeon Siege
Cliff Johnson game designer The Fool's Errand, 3 in Three
Damon Slye game designer, director, programmer Red Baron, A-10 Tank Killer, Aces of the Pacific
Dave Lebling game designer Zork, Starcross, Spellbreaker
David Braben game designer, programmer and entrepreneur Elite, Frontier
David Jones Game designer and entrepreneur Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto
Dino Dini video game developer The Kick Off series
Doug Church Game designer, producer Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief
Douglas E. Smith Video game programmer Lode Runner
Ed Boon Game programmer, director, voice actor and producer Mortal Kombat
Ed Logg Game designer Asteroids, Centipede, Gauntlet
Eric Chahi Game designer Another World
Eugene Jarvis Video game designer and programmer Defender, Robotron: 2084
Frédérick Raynal Videogame designer, programmer Alone in the Dark, Little Big Adventure
Gary Winnick Game designer, writer, artist, animator Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken
Gilman Louie Game designer, CEO The Falcon series, Stunt Driver
Hideo Kojima Video game designer, writer, director, producer Metal Gear, Snatcher
Jane Jensen game designer, author The Gabriel Knight series
Jeff Minter Programmer, game designer Gridrunner, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Tempest 2000
Jeffrey Tunnell computer game producer, programmer and designer The Incredible Machine
John Romero game designer, game programmer Commander Keen, Doom, Quake
Jon Hare game designer, musician Wizball, Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder
Jon Van Caneghem game designer Might and Magic, Heroes of Might and Magic
Jordan Mechner Video game designer, screenwriter, author Prince of Persia, Karateka
Julian Gollop game designer X-COM: UFO Defense, Laser Squad
Lori Ann Cole game designer Quest for Glory
Marc Blank Game developer and software engineer Zork
Mike Singleton computer programmer, game designer The Lords of Midnight, War in Middle Earth, Midwinter
Paul Cuisset Game designer Flashback, Future Wars, Fade to Black
Paul Neurath video game designer, creative director Space Rogue, Ultima Underworld
Paul Reiche III game designer, programmer Star Control, Archon
Peter Molyneux game designer, developer Populous, Magic Carpet, Powermonger
Phil Steinmeyer video game designer, developer Railroad Tycoon 2, Tropico
Richard Garriott game designer The Ultima series
Roberta Williams game designer, writer The King's Quest series, Sierra On-Line co-founder
Robyn Miller Game designer, composer, director, actor Myst
Roger Keating Video game designer The Warlords series
Ron Gilbert game designer, programmer, producer Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken, Monkey Island
Scott Adams game designer Adventureland, the Questprobe series
Scott Miller game designer, programmer and entrepreneur Kingdom of Kroz, Wolfenstein 3D, Raptor
Shigeru Miyamoto Game designer, game producer Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong
Sid Meier game programmer, game designer, producer Civilization, Railroad Tycoon, Pirates!
Steve Eric Meretzky game designer Planetfall, Leather Goddesses of Phobos
Steve Fawkner video game developer The Warlords series
Tim Cain Programmer, designer, producer Fallout, Arcanum
Tim Schafer video game designer, programmer, game writer Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Broken Age, Day of the Tentacle
Tim Willits Studio director, designer Quake, Hexen, Ultimate Doom
Tom A. Hall game designer, game programmer Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Commander Keen
Warren Spector game designer, producer Ultima Underworld, Deus Ex
Will Wright game designer SimCity, The Sims, Spore
Yoshiki Okamoto Video game designer 1942, Gun Smoke, Street Fighter II
Yu Suzuki Game producer, designer, programmer Virtua Fighter, Shenmue