Defining Co-Creation through Gaming


Part 1: Introduction to this blog

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Today I felt like starting a minor outlet and portfolio for my thoughts on the Video Game Industry and its future. There is only so much one can say or do in a world where forums and drama bumping are the most influencial yet counterproductive ways to influence games. If we take a step back and look at the driving forces in gaming culture, we might also stumble upon ways to improve its flow.

What is Co-Creation, you ask? Well… for the purpose of this article, it is an experience that is “alive”, where the consumers and providers are both contributing to the outcome in an interactive way. One could describe it as a growing process, or even evolution. It is a defining feature of all life on earth. When something is alive it is a process in motion and the beauty of motion lies in that it prevents the object from a final verdict or label regarding its position in the universe. Until it stops moving it is a marvel to watch, ponder and predict. As long as there are significantly unpredictable elements involved in this growing process, it is entertaining and rewarding to partake in. The fans are all hungry for the opportunity to contribute to their own enjoyment of this experience.

But what happens to co-creation when post-launch support focuses on “fixing” a game towards a final or acceptable state, instead of “fixing” its ability to stay moving on its own? What happens when the resources and tools for this are placed far away from the hands that are supposed to enjoy this experience? It stagnates, it becomes predictable, it loses its magic and creative appeal. We know where this ends… It loses social appeal. Less people play, less people talk about it, less people dream, less people create. Death. Does this really inspire you to repeat that process? Not really.

It seems like there is a fear from publishers that they cannot effectivly sell a new game unless the old one dies or becomes stagnant. But the true way to building a successive IP, or any family for that matter, must be to allow their different generations to interact and live side by side and evolve together. Every player is different, every player will mature together with the experiences they encounter and every player will try to customize their experience in a way that is unique and worth telling. Why limit a game’s growth potential by finite casualization, when you can build the casualization as a starting point with deeper growth potential. There are so many options that are used by developers in the production phase that are blacked out  when it reaches the consumer.

This leads to alienation, where an experience is no longer feeling “yours” anymore, You have participated in the experience for some time and suddely your input becomes less and less perceivable to both yourself and to others… You become normalized and jaded towards the world that won’t grow with you, and you find this in almost every interactive gaming experience you try. It doesn’t matter if you play them or not, because they are no longer made to last. The once transcendant features are reduced to shooting stars. Next we will talk about some basic customizable features and their role in improving user immersion and the feeling of individuality.

Part 2: What is FOV, and why should we care?

Field of View is the most immersive window a user can experience a game through. Depending on the aspect ratio and the distance to your screen, a specific view angle is the key to making the player’s perspective as natural and immersive as possible. Why limit this? And why calibrate it towards something that is several meters away, when you are trying to communicate details and text information at the same time? As of this generation, we are no longer as bound to the systematic hiding tricks that are used to mask texture quality and image resolution. Scalable Quality+FOV = ❤

1. The rendering performance will become more varied
(actually a good opportunity to find out what game elements can be scaled and tweaked)
2. Animations and models have to be calibrated for this
(just another way to improve  top tier presentations of your game on enthusiast screens)
3. People don’t want to fiddle in menus, they want to play
(another opportunity to invent intelligent FOV identifying solutions, be proactive about it)

I belive the future of gaming has a lot of room for scalabe solutions and more intelligent feature balancing. If the level of detail of each graphics element can vary intelligently compared to other elements, the management of video memory and load will even out.

UI customization, custom plugins and retextures and skins, we can’t allow that?

This actually brings a whole new level of co-creation to your game, where independent artists can work for free and create different display setups of the info that they feel is relevant to the interaction with the gameplay. Several representatives of many different target audiences can get together and provide different UI solutions to your game for free, you can even sell community approved UIs.

When it comes to skins, people are willing to create these for free, and use them for client side entertainment without affecting others. You could even sell community approved ones and focus your dev teams on the actual environments and the gameplay content instead.

When it comes to mods as a whole, there is a misconception that these prevent DLC sales, when in reality, people could actually be more willing to buy DLCs if the mod capability was DLC-gated, and you could get mod ability included in pre-orders or season passes. This ability does not neccessarily mean that you give them access to the entire game engine, but you can make UI or skin editors and other minor creation kits that would also aid your own developers when importing community content or creating optimized version of those. Mods are also a major intelligence resource when it comes to community popularity indicators and future development directions. Just browsing the most popular Skyrim mods will quickly tell you what parts of the gameplay that needed improvement, which story elements were forgotten, and what kind of characters their players would like in the future. Many of these mods require specific dlc assets and this also helps selling the Legendary Edition.

TLDR: Why create a game for a blunt target audience, and sell a small portion of DLCs because of dwindling consumer interest when you can create a blunt but customizable base experience, to sell mod access and more DLCs due to access gating? Awesome!

Part 3: Other evolution examples in gaming

So what should we discuss next? Crowdsourced balance tweaking perhaps? There are private servers for a reason. People buy them for a reason. People would be even more willing to buy them if they could domore things with them, without even impacting the base game negatively. Have you heard of the Promod phenomenon? It is a crowdsourced balancing effort for competitive play that was allowed through modding, which has made optional improvements that are still defining competitive standards today. If players are allowed to change some characteristics, a whole new game style can be derived from these small tweaks. The game is moving again, as the evolving new metagames come to life in the hands of the most skilled players in the world and their applauding fans. This can bloom into new markets, IPs or creative content types previously unseen. This opens up for more content creators and their free advertising, expanding your IP monetization etc.

What we’ve talked about so far is an example of various Co-Creation options that improve the customer’s attachment to a product, especially since the defining feature of games is the interactive element. With this growth process in mind, we can create IPs that mature with their audience, maybe even grow old with them, without feeling dated, stagnant or uninspiring. This can strengthen a wide variety of new IPs and game types for many generations to come. Gaming is not supposed to be a bunch of hollywood reimaginations that stomp down the genuine ideas and evolving concepts they kill and use to dress themselves in. Gaming could be about scaling these genuine ideas towards every consumer, by letting them parent these creations on their own and with their friends.

That is what co-creation is all about, and it is something that will live on and build stronger legacies that any other experience can. Creativity is connecting ideas in new ways, the more ways we can connect these ideas together, the more creative they can become. 

Until next time!
(where we can discuss ideas for community interaction and structured feedback support)