In an exclusive interview, games industry veterans Ian Bogost, Gordon Walton and Valerie Massey talk trends in gaming.
Walton agreed that user generate content had pitfalls – something most gamers have seen born out in many You Tube videos and fan site boards -- “As soon as there was user generated content the first thing that players did was misuse it, so that’s the nature of the beast as they’re playing a different meta game than the game you are offering them. It’s an interesting phenomenon.”
Though the drawbacks to user generated content can be obvious, Walton illuminated his approach to such aspects of game design, “I see the whole user generate content as a design technique; it’s just part of the toolbox. I think I did my first user generated content game back in the late 80s, we built a mission generator for a game and players were creating 100 times more content than we were and some of it was better than ours, most of it’s crap is the truth. User generated content is like anything else, there’s a law [Sturgeon’s Revelation] that 90% of everything is crap, actually 98% of everything is crap that’s user generated content, that’s my law, but the stuff that isn’t is freaking awesome.”
In conjunction with the ownership that participants have and the expressive tool of social media, Walton sees an even greater ability for customers to become positive participants, “With the communal play mechanisms that we have today the good stuff can rise to the top so much faster. One of the ways that Gamification is being applied to non-gaming stuff is using the crowd mind to really come up with cool stuff and servicing the things you want serviced versus servicing the stuff that’s just risqué or controversial.”
With the advent of such aspects of gameplay, Walton noted the true advantage for a games designer is promoting the involvement of gamers: “It’s just another way to get your players engaged in the product to give them a sense of ownership, to give them a sense of empowerment. Even if they don’t create content, the idea that they could is very attractive. Once you create stuff it’s an ownership factor, so it’s two orders of magnitude more sticky than almost any other thing you can do with a player other than super awesome gameplay. Ownership over a game is a way to make them stick like glue.”
Read the second part of the interview tomorrow and stay tuned Wednesday as I speak to Ian Bogost on the subject of Gamification, a featured topic at GDC Online this year.