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Peter Molyneux Isn’t a Liar, He’s an Idea Guy

If Peter Molyneux isn't a liar, then what is he?
This article is over 9 years old and may contain outdated information

If you’ve ever worked in art, graphic design, or game design you know these people. They come in off the street and they’ve got “the idea.” You know, the one that no one has ever thought of. The “idea” that is going to make them millions! It’s Facebook but for vegetable growers! It’s a game that combines Limbo and Shadow of the Colossus! It’s perfect and wonderful, a fully formed idea. 

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They just need you to make it. 

They’re usually the kind of people you forget. The kind of people that end up on Twitter accounts like For Exposure, the kind of “employers” that you avoid on Craigslist, or that you would trade drinks talking about if you went to bars chock full of broke graphic designers. 

Or, y’know. They’re Peter Molyneux. 

These guys are usually the butt of the joke in creative worlds. Seriously, toss around the phrase “idea guy” to your nearest maker. Everyone has worked with one, and they’re always awful. 

They say those that can’t do, teach. But the reality is that those who can’t do, manage. They’re idea guys. They are the type of people who promise to change your life, who promise that you’ll be able to play DVD’s on the in-game billboards, promising 60 interlinked players when the game can only support 8, or who say that their game is going to be the greatest game of all time. (Those are all Molyneux promises, just for clarity). 

It’s hard to remember (especially for me as I literally wasn’t alive), but Peter Molyneux was a baked bean salesmen who decided that he was going to make games. He got into the industry because of a spelling error, and one of his greatest successes, Popoulus, was generated at least in part on accident.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun recently conducted the single most cringe worthy, deeply uncomfortable interview of Peter Molyneux’s career where they asked if he was a pathological liar. Former Bullfrog (Molyneux’s first company) employee Mike Diskett told Kotaku a year ago: 

I’ve never really understood if Peter is a genius visionary who intends to make his claims come true, is a compulsive liar, just fantastically eager to please or perhaps even a crazy megalomaniac who believes his own hyperbole.

We’ve gotten caught up in the idea of truth. It feels like there can only be one truth here, that Molyneux willingly screwed a bunch of people out of their money through a Kickstarter that he knew was going to fail. That he has become the self-effacing parody of his own parody Twitter account. Perhaps the truth is simply that his earlier successes were brought about by his team and that at his core, Molyneux is just an idea guy.

He doesn’t know that his games are impossible — he’s got the idea. If you’ve ever worked with an “idea guy,” you know that the idea really isn’t half the battle. It’s not even 5%. And if all you’ve got is the idea, then you don’t have anything. 


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Amanda Wallace
Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.