Emergence: User-developed content

Generating new ways to play or enjoy the title in a way that developers would never have thought of.

This phenomenon is called emergence.
Badland_Publishing_Emergence content

When designing a game, a lot of time is dedicated to its complete development. The design of the mechanics, its implementation, balancing, possible corrections, etc.  

There are many resources that are dedicated so that everything fulfils its objective inside the game, in order to give a specific experience.

However, it is quite common for the community of gamers to take these mechanics or game experiences designed and turn them around.

Generating new ways to play or enjoy the title in a way that developers would never have thought of.

This phenomenon is called “emergence” and goes far beyond what has been said, from patterns of behaviour to content created by the players themselves. 

It’ s being studied by Game Studies, from the branch of Situationism that puts its focus of study on the behaviour of players. Now, let’s go deeper into the different ways in which it can be shown.

Emergence: User-developed content.

When designing a game, a lot of time is dedicated to its complete development. The design of the mechanics, its implementation, balancing, possible corrections, etc.  There are many resources that are dedicated so that everything fulfils its objective inside the game, in order to give a specific experience.

However, it is quite common for the community of gamers to take these mechanics or game experiences designed and turn them around. Generating new ways to play or enjoy the title in a way that developers would never have thought of.

This phenomenon is called “emergence” and goes far beyond what has been said, from patterns of behaviour to content created by the players themselves. It’ s being studied by Game Studies, from the branch of Situationism that puts its focus of study on the behaviour of players. Now, let’s go deeper into the different ways in which it can be shown.

Mechanics and emergence behaviors.

As I mentioned before, it’ s quite common to see that the rules or mechanics that are created in any game system are often not followed by the users in the way they were designed.  Or unexpected behaviors arise with rules beyond the game. There are many examples: The Quickscope mode in Call of Duty, the Knife-Killing connotations in Counter Strike, the unbalanced nature of the Bayonetta character in Super Smash Bros, and so on. There are examples of multiplayer games where the emergence impact is more noticeable.

Badland_Publishing_Emergence content

One of the most surprising examples of emerging behavior in video games, is found in the early years of Word of Warcraft. Due to some discrepancies with the warrior class, Blizzard decided to change its stats, causing the anger of thousands of players who used this class. 

The way of demonstrating was to meet at the bridge of one of the most important cities in the game and block the way, which caused a collapse of the system. Blizzard at that time did not know how to react to this type of behavior that they had not been able to predict and kicked out all those players.

But we don’t only find emergence in multiplayer games. Speed runners use system glitches to quickly pass areas of a game in order to beat their own records. Also, an example of this can be a player who decides to use only objects that he has made himself or a player dedicated to just completing challenges (Pokemon with permanent death) in order to obtain unique experiences. 

An extreme example of this is what made the streamer Aaroneous Gaming in Kingdom Hearts: he levelled-up Sora to level 100 without leaving the first area, The Islands of Destiny. 

Both digital and physical collecting is one of the first and most standardized forms of emergence.

Badland_Publishing_Emergence content

Content created by users. Fan-made

Badland_Publishing_Emergence content

Emergence samples not only arise inside games, but outside them they also manifest very actively. The fan communities that form around certain products, especially video games, are very active. The most direct example are the mods made by fans. Software that adds all kinds of improvements or curiosities to extend the original experience.

But that’s not all. We also have unofficial guides, made or translated by fans for other players to get the most out of their games. In a not so practical way, we also have the fanfics. They are narrative content that broadens or changes the games’ own stories and narratives. As well as all the artistic content that is created daily, the most recent Bowsette. Needless to say, memes also fall within this content. 

The emergence arose as an unforeseen concept or as something you don’t have. Thanks to the research in Game Studies, as well as the potencial that has been shown, the situation has changed.  Nowadays, the emergence is something that developers take into account when adapting their games to generate the best possible game experiences.

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