Game is defined as “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck” (Google). However, there are many that alter this definition to describe such a broad topic. For example, Juul is one that talks in depth about games and their definitions. Juul defines games in two categories: emergence and progression. Emergence is a number of simple rules combining to form interesting variation and progression is separate challenges presented serially (Juul). If one were to classify all games in these two categories, emergent games would be more abundant due to them being more interesting.
Progression is defined as “the rules limit the player in such a way that actions must be performed in some kind of present order” (class notes). Therefore, progression games are not programmed to where the game can have variation the designer did not account for. Progression games have a list of ‘rules’ where the player completes them to progress and proceed to complete the game. For example, Mario Cart is a progression game. This game has no variance and therefore no different outcome.
Emergence is defined as “some small set of rules define play but within those rules the player is free to create tactics and strategies” (class notes). These subunits create the variety in an emergent game. For example, Sims is an emergent game. This is due to the fact that in Sims the exact same game can not be done twice. A player is allowed to roam within the game the designer made; however, the player can create his or her own tactics or strategies to play the game. There is no end goal like there is in a progression game. There is no point ‘a’ to point ‘b’. Rather, it is what the player creates it to be. In the case of emergent games, there are meta-rules so the rules can be changed.
Emergent games are more interesting and abundant in this world because a player can not get the exact game twice. With the variance, a player will not get bored as easily with the game. As Bycer states in his article,”the game must be open enough to have a variety of solutions and the tools must allow for interconnection and adaptability” (Josh Bycer). This is the idea game designers wrap their thoughts around. For example, games like Minecraft and World of Warcraft are very popular in modern society. Personally, every guy friend I know that enjoys video games has at least one of these games. The reason games like these are popular and more abundant are due to the fact that they are emergent and create variety each and every time the player picks up the remote.
This argues the question of: since emergent games are deemed ‘more fun’ by people like Juul and arguably many others, is this causing game designers to put as much variance in games as possible so everyone will buy their game? And another thought: if that question is true or sheds light on a possibility of truth, can one argue that there is almost too many special features in modern games? For example Mike Scout talks in his article about game designing mechanics and briefly talks about these ideas. He talks about how there are specific buzzwords designers look for in players to see what players do or do not like. For example, “repetitive” is a no no in the designer world. This goes off of the idea we talked about in class where each time a ‘new’ player is playing a game and gets something for the first time like a coin the game gives a lot of positive feedback so the player keeps playing. It causes me to think of the possibility of where and how far game designers will go in order to achieve the most ‘popular’ game in society.