“Emergent Gameplay” has become a popular buzz word and Holy Grail concept for game designers. In the past, we’ve talked about what it is and the challenge of creating it. For today, we’re going to do one better — We’re going to try and define the conditions that can lead to emergent gameplay.
Recently, I tried and ultimately found myself not enjoying the open-ended game Satellite Reign. One of the things that bothered me about the design and was a bullet point the developers were pushing, was saying that the mechanics would lead to “Emergent gameplay,” that would let the players shape the situations around them. Having given up playing the game, I did not find it to be emergent at all and I wanted to explore this concept further, because this is one of those dream game design concepts that designers can (and have) chase.