After reading this article over at Gamasutra, I got to thinking, what is the next big thing going to be with gaming? My thought: emergent gameplay.
It is always interesting to see a game design that sets up the rules of play to allow for things to happen that the designers never planned for.
I recall one particular story I read a long time ago about a player who was playing a Star Wars based game that went something like this. The player was low on ammunition, and faced two enemies around a corner – a turret and some sort of other enemy. The player went around the corner and used his ‘force’ ability to pull an exploding barrel towards himself, pulling it between the turret and himself, which caused it to explode and take out both enemies. This is something that the game designers hadn’t necessarily planned for.
What I imagine one of the next successful games will use is some sort of emergent gameplay. Imagine a world with a limited set of resources and a set of rules controlling the players and the resources. I know at this point it sounds pretty much like any other game at this point, and to a certain extent, it is. It simply needs to have a broad enough set of rules to allow the players to develop their own kind of gameplay.
It isn’t so much that the rules of play or the type of game is ingrained in the game itself – it’s that the players develop their own game with their own set of rules. Ever play in a sandbox as a kid? The kind of things you could do were only limited by the properties of the sand.
Sure, we have ‘sandbox’ modes of various games, but no one has really created a successful game with the purpose of creating an actual sandbox where players can do whatever they want.
So, that’s my prediction for ‘the next big thing’.