Although making lofty prediction about the future of digital media seems to always end in inaccuracy, an interesting post I came across recently was ‘The Future of Game Design: 8 Predictions’. Through a look at the current trends in the gamign industry and the players who play, Anne makes some interesting assertions that are worth mentioning. The title of the eight predictions are as follows,
‘1) Cost will be the dragon to slay
2) Design innovation will no longer be good for business
3) Games will not be culturally accepted as art
4) Platforms and ecosystems will be a big thing
5) Create hobbies. Not worlds, not mechanics, not systems
6) Creation games will be worth exploring further
7) Specialization will happen on the low end
8) No more underserved genres’
Many of these trends are noteworthy however it is in point number 2 and 4 that I would like to explore here as they are particularly relevant to my current research. Point number 2 refers to the general lack of creativity and innovation that is taking place in contemporary games. Looking at the past E3 this certainly seems to be one of the main criticisms of the games industry right now and as Anne states, ‘People blame reasons like stingy publishers, unimaginative developers, stupid audiences, budgets, hardware constraints, etc.’ Although this outlook is only concerned with the titles of major publishers (indie developers still rely on creativity and innovation to drive their popularity) it is true that the traditional high budget development process of games is leading so a system of reputation and variation of the same old systems. In my past work and upcoming paper (hopefully due later this year) I point out one of the main sites of original and innovative development for games is now in the realms of modding and play itself. Unlike high budget development processes that are concerned with market predictions, risk analyses and tried and tested formulas; modding and play represent almost the opposite. People do what they want when they are not concerned with economic value and often that leads to the most spontaneous and original content.
Anne points out that;
‘Valve’s two most played games were invented by the mod community, not by Valve’s internal R&D. The success rate of game design R&D is getting smaller every year, and is becoming a poor business proposition. R&D and innovation that used to go into design may get diverted into things like community management, new ways to acquire new players, monetization schemes, all things that make for better services.’
Echoing the sentiments of Jenkins (2006) who also suggested games will increasingly be defined by the strength of their community it is likely that developers will keep latching onto the originality inherent in online communities or even games themselves (see the League of Legends metagame) as they prove to be living sites of innate development ripe for exploitation .
Annes next point is related to the ideas of co-creation that point 2 was focused with and he states that games will increasingly become platforms rather than just brands.
‘Modelling your game like an economy can help improve a service-oriented game. Properly aligning player incentives to desired behavior, ensuring that resources flows are properly understood and guided. The larger picture this provides is that game communities can become platforms and ecosystems of their own. This has been true of games like League of Legends, DOTA, TF2, Minecraft, Eve Online. This is a logical conclusion of a service-based game industry.’
In making games platforms for meaningful participation (meaningful being when a developer listens and takes note of in-game actions to adapt the game to what is happening or in other words, productive play) one of the core tenants of platformed value creation common throughout the online landscape is spilling over to games.
In making games platforms for meaningful participation (meaningful being when a developer listens and takes note of in-game actions to adapt the game to what is happening or in other words, productive play) one of the core tenants of platformed value creation common throughout the online landscape is spilling over to games. The need to align the motives of producers and participants towards similar values (also see not how to achieve this) is the premise behind co-creation and it relates directly to point 2 as well.
Is the future of online games one of self sustaining originality fuelled by harmonious player, amateur, professional relations?