Warren Spector on What "Player Powered" Means

Otherside Entertainment's upcoming immersive sim Argos: Riders on the Storm is positioned as a "player powered" game. And as such, Warren Spector's latest and apparently final Game Developer blog tells us what that means exactly and why it's important for games to be "player powered."

The article is quite extensive and covers a lot of ground. It defines "player powered" games as those that don't try to mimic other types of media and where playstyle matters. It also highlights an entirely different, more conventional, way of looking at games and the general risk-averse nature of the gaming industry fueled by data and analytics.

With that set up, the article then explains why it's important for a developer with any sort of creative aspirations to try making something different and unique, and how that in itself is quite a challenge.

Here are a few sample paragraphs to give you an idea of what to expect:

The truth that dares not be spoken is that playing games is work. And I admit, Player Powered Immersive Simulations may be more work for players than other, more linear games that hew more closely to conventions developed and perfected by other games and/or in other media.

The work is easier in a linear game where players can’t do anything but what they’re told to do. Games that value puzzles, completion, skill and interpretation are easy to understand and to play. Move forward like a shark and, eventually, you’ll win. People like that.

But “people like that” isn’t enough. The medium requires more if we’re ever going to mature.

I’ve been told that Plato once said something along the lines of “If everyone likes what you’re doing, that’s a good reason to think you might be doing it wrong.”

I totally buy that. You may not. And that’s great. You don’t have to buy what I’m selling. But I’d argue that it’s important you sell something – to repeat yet again a critically important point, it’s important that you have your own success criteria and your own mission.