I do not play many games online. However, I am a huge fan of the Gran Turismo (GT) series and lately I’ve been playing online with two great friends who are also fans. Specifically, we have been playing Gran Turismo 5. The game provides an impressive amount of settings that you can tweak for online matches. But today I want to talk about one which you cannot control, and which I feel would constitute emergent gameplay.
Emergent gameplay refers to complex situations in video games, board games, or table top role-playing games that emerge from the interaction of relatively simple game mechanics.
People frequently cite Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) as a source of emergent gameplay due to how many ways players can devise creative strategies using a relatively simple rule system. The rules for D&D do not cover everything a player can do, but that does not stop players from attempting anything they can think of. This is one type of emergent gameplay.
The type of emergent gameplay I am about to propose is more along the lines of ‘Changing Game Objectives’, as described on Wikipedia.
Put Your Car on the Line
In street racing lingo one sometimes hears about ‘racing for pinks’ or just ’pinks’ in general. Speed had a television show about it for a while. The premise is that if you lose the race—almost always a two-player, heads-up race—then the loser gives his or her car to the winner. In other words, the loser hands over ‘the pink slip’ representation ownership, hence the game.
Gran Turismo 5 lets you gift cars to friends and that made me think that this would be a Hell of a way to setup of a tense race. How many risks would I take or how conservatively would I drive if a multi-million credit car was on the line, a car that may have taken me hours to obtain? I do not believe the designers ever had this idea in mind, or if so it was not made explicit. And that’s why I call it an example of emergent gameplay.
To give another example, this one related to Dark Souls:
For example Dark Souls, a game where you can invade others games has spawn a honor system. This honor system is when invading player bow to each other, don’t use any health items, and only use one buff. This was not designed by the developers but by the players.
If you play Gran Turismo online then how would you feel about such a system? Would you get a thrill from the tension of knowing what’s at stake, what you might earn and what you might lose? Personally I think it would be a cool way to spice up two-player competition (which is already fun) in a way that probably was not intended, but the structure of the game allows it nonetheless.
But maybe that’s just me. What do you all think? And if there are other examples of emergent gameplay from other titles you like, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.