Minecraft: guided emergent game design

For the most part, in the relatively short history of computer gaming, players have had limited influence over the design of games. Games have lived and died by the reputation they acquire on release, and although they are play-tested while in development, most people who play games will never participate in this process of refining game designs. Therefore it can be said that the only realistic way for most people to determine the future of gaming is by voting with their wallets.

Increasingly these days though, we are seeing more and more so-called emergent gameplay. Gamers are creating their own fun, separate from the entertainment intended by game designers, by exploiting the idiosyncrasies and loopholes in the rules created by said designers. Minecraft is one of a new breed of game which has a strong emergent gameplay element. On initial release it had few rules and no designed goals for the player, making it almost purely emergent in its nature. Doubtless there are other games (such as Garry’s Mod) which have pushed players to create their own fun just as strongly as Minecraft, but this paper explains why Minecraft is different.

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