I was thinking earlier today about what the most successful game genres are that exhibit emergent gameplay most successfully. This is interesting to study, but also necessary to think about when designing our own games to exhibit emergent gameplay and simulate markets.
To a large extent, the success of game in exhibiting emergent gameplay is a function of its popularity: as the more players there are playing a game, the more (diverse) content they will generate, and the more likely players will substitute their own ideas for inefficient game mechanics, others imitate them, and ultimately ingrain them into unintended game institutions.
Sometimes this also requires the ability of developers to scale a game, to expand it to massive gameworlds on servers capable of servicing thousands, even millions, of players. But again, this seems to be a function of the demand for a particular game – you won’t see massively multiplayer games that players by and large do not like. Small, independent games can still attract players and/or turn a profit, but they do not garner a critical mass to require large servers or worry about scaling. Perhaps this is because their genre only has a small group of devotees, and a “mainstream” game requires a genre that can capture the masses. Continue reading