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“Why Do We Need More Systemic Games?” Part 4 – Diverse Games

Systemic games can split the field wide open. Wild diversity must be harnessed to drive the potential of the medium forwards and pull it out of its niche.

This new kind of game can foster diversity.

Systemic games create experiences for diverse play. A multiplicative possibility space can be designed – targeted – but open to the individual and their identity. Through harnessing the uncertain, the emergent and holistic meaning of interconnected parts, systemic games allow the integration and self-discovery of the individual and their place among the world. It’s paradoxical. By lessening the pre-destined self-importance of the player, their actions become more meaningful, more effective. By allowing a cohesive world to live, more accessible engagement options become available. More types of people can participate or bring themselves into a game through their own values. Games become available, personal, and inviting in a way they couldn’t be through directed narrative. They become an engine of self-discovery that turns away no one, but more strongly surrounds a cohesive and living thematic pillar.

With new players and new developers, systemic games can deepen the field of games and forever reinvent the landscape.  This can already be seen in the roiling indie sphere, where new kinds of interactivity and new kinds of worlds turn up at every corner of the web – growing and intermixing in the open or underground. It is impossible to know them all. On the subject of diversity – fears of “indiepocalypse”, ‘too many games’, and other privileged labels for the increasing accessibility of game development have given way to countless interpretations of how to use the medium’s space. This radical diversity is a popped bubble, an unstable creative sphere, but explosively innovative. It could soon split apart the homogenized stagnation of the AAA sphere, where rigid authored experiences soak up the majority of the industry’s cash flow. And while more and more games are made, their diversity is instructive and inspirational to new people. The medium will continue to grow, affect people, attract study, and permeate the public consciousness. It will address itself and the political climate from countless voices. Games will continue to evolve. They will finally give voice to the full range of human condition.

Virtual space is a complicated new medium indeed, but systemic games can re-invent it. Whether by providing a good structure for cohesive games, encouraging a living virtuality for exploring humanity and the natural world, or acting as a platform for experimentation and revolutionary accessibility in the creative sphere, systemic games are a powerful way of exploring the raw potential of video games and pulling the field into the future.

While exploring wholes and interactive parts may be an antidote for many larger issues than how best to make a computer game – this paradigm shift may be exactly what we need to make an earnest impact as creators and address our craft as more than the sum of its parts.

By Steven Zwahl

I'm a Computer Science undergrad at Kansas State University.

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