Rather than design a single concept of player experience I am going to provide an optimistic expectation towards the evolution of digital interaction. I predict that at some point, users will get to experience the synergy of machine learning, user-generated content, rogue-like experiences and shorter, high octane levels all bundled and provided to customers through a subscription service. In brief this platform would generate unique digital worlds and objectives based on gaming data provided by the user, with the ability to tailor design factors and store the resulting experience to be shared with other users. For this example, lets call the platform “Picasso” (a multi-medium artist seems apt) and upload player data of Dying Light, Dead Rising and Bioshock to result in a zombie horde experience, enhanced with power-based gameplay. Picasso would not simply copy-paste experiences from these games, nor create a narrative that takes 36 hours to complete, the point would be to create a bite-sized experience of exactly what the player feels like experiencing. Picasso wouldn’t nullify the continued release of games but work in tangent with them, once licensing agreements are made the platform would learn from and provide more of the experience’s users enjoyed in the games they purchase.
The belief for this platform to exist is born from the trends already being experienced by users today. The popularity of world building and content sharing can be seen in such games as Dreams, Minecraft, Super Mario Maker and the prolific modding community that enhances and adapts nearly every digital experience. Users enjoy professionally developed content, but so too do they enjoy making their experiences their own and sharing those experiences with other players. Picasso would learn and create from the passive playstyles of users and create content that is more “them” than they could have actively designed (the option to make adjustments would still be present in the platform). Beyond simple aesthetic assets, Picasso would learn from areas the user struggles with, preferred weaponry, frequent death causes, etc. and create experiences around these factors.
Similarly, recent appreciation in rogue-like experiences support the creation of Picasso, in its bite-sized, one and done approach to experience. The ability to face a new obstacle in a digital experience despite hours invested is an engaging and rewarding mechanic to ensure replayability and ensure dynamic experiences. Games like The Binding of Isaac, Dead Cells, Darkest Dungeon and many more all utilise unique encounters to great effect, a function that if paired with machine learning could create dynamic micro-worlds of replayability. Machine learning is however the weakest technological foundation in this prediction, as greater developments need to be made in this field in regard to asset rendering and complexity application. Machine learning uses artificial intelligence to learn from and improve data and systems by automatically providing fixes to the connected output. Machine learning is already being loosely used for entertainment to generate film or tv scripts and is already present in immersive experiences with an AI defeating the world champion of strategic board game, Go and another AI dominating the digital world of StarCraft 2. Once the technology for complex content creation can be paired with machine learning, Picasso could be a digital necessity for entertainment.
There is of course present the issue of licensing and copyright that is inherit in any concept that is designed around pulling assets from existing works. However, this could be alleviated in the financial model applied to acquire Picasso. Subscription services seem to be the final-destination of content distribution for the digital age and would suit the existing models of Xbox Live, Game Pass, PS Plus, Nintendo Switch Online or any of the media streaming services such as Netflix or Stan. In a subscription model Picasso would ensure financial support to enable steady updates and licensing packs of newer releases (which may or may not come at extra cost). Despite technological restrictions currently making Picasso impossible, I believe the future of digital experiences will focus on evolution rather than static releases. Whilst this evolution will inevitably be shackled to capitalism and likely corrupted to some degree by the adverse trend of microtransactions that plagues modern gaming, it is still the next stage of digital experience. Worlds, assets and mechanics that can be continually enjoyed after a major release in unique, tailored realms enabling for more user freedom and ability to enjoy what they want, when then want.
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