Play Create Share: A Rising Tide of User Created Content


      It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since the release of LittleBigPlanet, which I have no problem naming one of the greatest games of all time. In that time, there have been over 2.3 million levels played, created, and shared by all those with a PS3 connected to the internet. Now, LittleBigPlanet 2 is on the way, and I’m more excited for it than ever.

      But that’s not with this post is about. Instead, the focus today is on how the game industry as a whole is being changed by games such as LittleBigPlanet, among others, that present gamers with the option to create levels, movies, costumes, cars, weapons, or whatever else. The video game landscape is evolving, and it’s being shaped by the tools of the developers in the hands of the hardcore gamers.

      Let me start with LittleBigPlanet. Don’t worry, I won’t endlessly babble on about how amazing it is, but I still want to devote some time to it. While there have been many games that game players a wide array of options in creating there own content, most of that has been for the hardcore PC gamer. While I like PC games just as much as the next guy, I’m nowhere near the level of skill needed in order to make something cool. LittleBigPlanet changed all of that.  

No Caption Provided
      For the first time in my gaming career, I was able to make a full video game level. Not only that, but it was a level I could actually feel proud of. I was blown away. Sure, there was an awesome single player story mode, and playing with three friends had a nice competitive/co-op slant to it, but the most mind-blowing moment was when that first level I made brought my imagination to life.

      LittleBigPlanet was the first game that made the creation tools accessible enough so that even I could look like a pro, but that doesn’t mean it was the first game to make a respectable attempt. The earliest I can remember playing was back in the NES era with Excitebike, where players had the ability to make there own tracks. None of them were that much different than the one’s in the game, but it was easy to use and fun to mess around with.

No Caption Provided
      Then there’s The Sims, where players could be an architect and make buildings, be a designer and make objects, or be God and make people. It was really open-ended and practically begged the player to mess around. There was nothing else like it at the time.

      The good Tony Hawk games (in other words, not Ride) allowed players to make there own skate parks, but the options were a little too limited and, more often than not, the levels provided by the developers were of way higher quality. Still, it was there for those who wanted it, and that’s what matters.

No Caption Provided
      Then, in 2008, something funny happened. A stream of great games with easy to use content creators suddenly started to appear, and while LittleBigPlanet may be the best example, it certainly isn’t the only one. There’s the amazing creature creator in Spore, that allows you to make anything you can imagine into a living breathing monster. Just look online at the Sporepedia and you’ll see how much players enjoy making their own species.

      Then there’s Far Cry 2, which didn’t have the best online community, but five seconds with it’s level editor and you’ve got something worth showing off. It’s really that simple to use.

No Caption Provided
      Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts gave players a LEGO set to build whatever vehicles they saw fit, and the possibilities were nearly endless. You could create flying, diving, sucking, rolling, or even just plain silly contraptions and then test them out in the game world or against friends.

      Forza Motorsport 3 is probably the best racing game I’ve ever played, and par of that is because of the community. Why is the community so dedicated? At least in my eyes, the dedication is a result of the user-generated content. People are creating really awesome logos and cars they want the world to see, and others are looking for really awesome cars and logos.

No Caption Provided

      Though I have yet to try it out, the new WarioWare is the first in the series to let you create your very own micro games.  If Nintendo’s jumping on board, you know user-created content is going to be a big deal.

      And my last example for today is from a game that isn’t even available yet, but will be very soon. ModNation Racers’ track, car, and avatar editors all look amazing, and easy to use. Games like these are the ones I pick up day one, because I’m excited to see the community evolve over time and all the awesome levels pumped out into the interwebs.

No Caption Provided
      User-generated content is finally coming into its own. Finally people who aren’t educated in programming can unleash their own virtual creations. LittleBigPlanet is leading the pack, and with an even more open sequel already on the way, this trend likely won’t stop soon.