What Dreams Are Made Of

October 1, 2008

So as I had previously teased, I am currently preoccupied with the Little Big Planet beta. Now, I could have posted about games as art, the transcendental experience of game play, or even the literacy of game play. But, that would not be fair since I did mention I have been playing Little Big Planet and it is such an academic mine of topics about game design, player democracy and its relentless visual/audio charm. So, this post will, in fact, focus on Little Big Planet.

Yes, I have been up for hours making levels. But what really excited me about this game was once I entered the online world and discovered the numerous overly creative maps the user community has mode. One of my favorite maps is from a particular user that uses jailbreaks and heists as his themes. What a wonderful turn of visual story-telling where the player has to use dice to enter codes and there are various instances where the player will become caught and be stuck to travel the level in a jail car.

Which brings me to the subject of games that give the user freedom to create their own fun. Spore is a recent game that utilizes this mentality. The idea of building worlds and game mechanics is a very LEGO-esk sensibility. Something that the LEGO franchise games surprisingly lack. The concept of fun through creation is an inherent aspect of games. People do it all the time–create games that is—whether is playing around with the rules of a board game, five degrees of separation games, and the ever enjoyable drinking game.

But games that expect the user to create games is a wholly separate genre in of its own. The notion that you are paying for a product to create your own product sounds like a late-night infomercial scam. Yes, the success of Spore and even the Sims shows that many players will gladly pay to live vicariously not only as a player but a creator. Though Little Big Planet does have a story mode, I have seem myself place and 80-20 ratio of myself building rather than playing in the beta.

This is a wonderful jumping point for discussion and investigation about user participation not only in these creation games but even the more typical narrative games that I no doubt will revisit in the future.


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