Designers: Makers vs. Verifiers

Are designers Makers or Verifiers?  Every studio seems to have a different answer.

I think of Makers as programmers, artists, creaters of the code and data.  I think of Verifiers as the reviewers of the that work, quality assurance, looking at the finished sections and decided where to go next with it.  Both are equally important – I’ve served both within my time.  I think most of us have.  But I’ve primarily been a Builder, and I know a large part of the quality I’ve accomplished is due to great Verifiers who’ve helped me.

Most apprentice Makers believe they don’t need Verifiers.  Or we just need them to find bugs, but not to help with actual quality.  They look down on Verifiers.  But Makers need that outside point of view.  They get too close to the work.  They try and take shortcuts where they think they can get away with it.  They make assumptions.  That’s why they can’t check it on their own, they’ve already decided the result ahead of time.

Many Verifiers look down on Makers.  Because there are fewer of them for the larger picture, they tend to feel anyone can Build, but it is the Verifier who truly creates the ultimate product, by directing.   But Verifiers need the Makers, not just because they can’t do it themselves, but because Verifying is reactive – directing can only happen by building on what already exists.  They need Makers, to truly translate the thoughts into actions.

Designers in many places fill both of these roles.  We don’t think we need designers who only sit around and verify – that sounds silly or would be too expensive.  On the other hand, we can’t have designers just build stuff – then they couldn’t verify, and besides, they’d likely no longer be called designers anymore, maybe programmers or scripters or UI artists, fair or not.  And calling them both gives the extraordinary power, to the point where it becomes a status above their other peers.

Everyone does both, but Maker or Verifier in a studio is always well defined.  Except for designers in the game industry.  Designers are the only industry role that leaves it undefined, almost from person to person.  Because of this, understanding the role of designers in any company before you start there is key to understanding how that company actually works.

What do you do?  What do you think they should do, day to day?


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