Player-Created Content And Why It's A Good Thing

By Nick Young on June 4, 2010, 7:27PM EDT

LittleBigPlanet has been the definitive game for player-created content, and with over two million levels created by players themselves it has changed the way games can be played, created and shared. Media Molecule first set out to give gamers a different experience to what they are used to, giving them limitless possibilities in the process and freedom to explore their own imagination. Two years later, fans of LittleBigPlanet are still producing some of the finest levels seen in most games, all thanks to Media Molecule's choice to give gamers the power to create. Giving gamers this kind of power is not only a new direction for games, but possibly the best direction for games.

Before LittleBigPlanet's release, the thought of giving its audience the means to create anything they wanted came with both excitement and for lack of a better term, fear. Nobody knew what players would create, whether it was going to be a really good platforming level, a level designed only to acquire PSN trophies, or a level fraught with private parts. It was these thoughts that kept gamers sceptical until the product was finally released, but ultimately those thoughts were laid to rest. It's true that a few gamers did indeed make somewhat questionable levels, but the passionate creators outnumbered them completely and is the reason why LittleBigPlanet is still so popular today.

There are other games that seem to follow the same premise of LittleBigPlanet in the fact that they allow the players to customise levels, characters and in some situations, gameplay. ModNation Racers has been release to the world, and follows the example of LittleBigPlanet, players can customise tracks, karts and characters to fine-tune their own experience. Scribblenauts on the DS is a perfect example of how gameplay can change depending on the player's imagination, the game is based around finding 'starites' using whatever objects the player can think of. Players then type their selected object into the touch screen and it will appear, Scribblenauts is renowned for its database of tens of thousands of objects and multiple ways of solving each of the game's puzzles.

WarioWare D.I.Y is another great example of what player-created content can mean when used properly within a game, not only can players make mini-games, but they can create both the art style and the music to accompany it. Unfortunately the game is on the DS and is therefore limited in it's capabilities, as the game can only be so long, it can only contain so much content and the music aspect can only be explored thanks to pre-recorded sounds. In fact, every game that allows players to create are somewhat limited in their own ways. It's these limitations that can hold people back from achieving what they truly want to create, memory size, useable objects, creation tools, all of which could be remedied in the future of player-created games.

Limitations are not the only problems however, as we all know, studios under strict time constraints are sometimes forced to cut content or rush their product. This may lead to developers leaving out more and more content with the thought that their community will pick up the slack. This is of course a problem as the community not only have to learn the tools and features in these games but have to spare the time to make these creations. A level in LittleBigPlanet can take a good number of hours to create and it's time that some of the community just don't have, this is where ModNation Racers have stepped in. Creating a track in a racing game can seem like a daunting task to achieve but the creation tools have been made so simplistic that a track can be created in a mere five minutes, with extra time added to customise obstacles and scenery.

Player-created content keeps games fresh and exciting even years after their release, other games are designed a certain way forcing all players to make the same decisions and follow the same paths. But every gamer is different, every gamer would like to play games their own way and it's why i believe that it may be the future of gaming, the future of great gaming at least. The recent announcement that LittleBigPlanet 2 will be arriving this year gives me hope that developers will continue to create these types of games and will only set out to improve the experiences had by gamers through future generations. Tools will become simpler, design choices will become more open and will eventually lead up to gamers creating their own games to suit their own tastes. This is what i believe to be one of the key parts to the future of gaming, at least for the creative audience out there.

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