Co-creation in the Metaverse

Games created by users
Games created by users: Source DITOLAND

Ludogogy has entered into an agreement with Gamification Journal, based in Seoul, South Korea, for the mutual exchange of articles. This is the third of those articles we are publishing and it was in exchange for Ludogogy’s article about how ‘winning’ keeps players playing from the previous issue, themed Winning

In 1992, the word ‘metaverse’ first appeared in the novel ‘Snow Crash’ by Neal Stephenson, an American SF writer. It combines the words ‘meta’ meaning ‘beyond’ or ‘transcending’, and  ‘universe’. Normal, real, life is extended into virtual spaces, with multiple different implementations, making it possible to carry out activities that would be impossible in real life. Activities in this imaginary arena can be realized in the virtual world, and the immersion blurs the lines between real and virtual worlds.

One characteristic of games based in the metaverse is that players participate in co-creation. In the traditional concept of games deign, the roles of developers and gamers are separate. However, everyone can participate in creative work in the metaverse, and share the output with each other. Free movement in the virtual world and creation at any time by gamers are defining features of games in the metaverse.

Gamer and also Developer

A Metaverse game offers the space and resource to freely express the gamers’ imagination. Now, the gamer’s role is beyond simple play inside games, environments and content pre-defined by developers.

The platform, DITOLAND, which combines the metaverse with the game, consists of UCC (User Created Content). This means that everybody can freely make and upload games. This is different from the typical concept of game development where, ‘If the developers make the game, gamers just play’. People interact here as both gamers and developers.

’Squid Game’ created by users  source: DITOLAND
’Squid Game’ created by users source: DITOLAND

Co-creation in the metaverse is mainly achieved through coding. Coding provides the necessary tools for creating, modifying, and combining objects that are the basic elements in the virtual world, as well as  making more complex entities such as characters or buildings.

Even gamers who initially do not have the ability to code can participate. They can utilize templates and code created by other users. They can easily participate in the process of game development using ready-made materials without the need for complexity.

Also for the beginner, there are tutorial guides provided by the development company. If they use these, people can learn coding step by step, and make their own content.

The Core of Co-creation is Community

Let’s assume the the player wants to create a simple platformer game. A simple summary of the steps needed to create the game would be:

  1. Set the game concept
  2. Set the style and texture of objects
  3. Make the background, and arrange the buildings
  4. Define the presets (jump pad, score coins in case of win, obstacles with game over on collision)
  5. Arrange the characters, and set their abilities (speed, number or range of jumps, etc.)
  6. Register the game
Make the background of the game by creating and modifying objects
Make the background of the game by creating and modifying objects
Make the one ‘Stage’ by iteration
Make the one ‘Stage’ by iteration
Set the interaction among characters
Set the interaction among characters

The first two steps; setting game concept and setting the style and texture of objects is easily done by beginners. The basic structure choices such as ‘What kind of buildings will be made?’ and ‘What kind of materials will be used?’ is also not that hard. The simple arrangement of stable objects is not difficult. The challenge comes when adding interaction between objects and with the player. If the character cannot be moved, or certain items cannot be utilized as being intended, the power of community to help the beginner coder becomes really important.

Gamer communities are very active in the metaverse platforms. If people encounter difficulty in creating any aspect of their game, the community is more than happy to help and share opinions. Community is more than simple Q&A or the updating of a notice board. There are various features including discussions about education or research, bug reporting about the platform, co-planning on projects, and feedback on each others work, etc.

DITOLAND community in Discord
DITOLAND community in Discord

This type of ‘Co-creation’ is transformed into learning, which is linked to the education program. Because of this, DITOLAND is included in the curriculum of Game Studies in universities, and utilized in  Game Jams to help teenagers to learn to code. Through game development with many people, people naturally learn how to code.

Practising coding is the process of learning a new language. This means that learning is not easy, and people can lose interest. However, if the game is linked to this process, and people can learn how to participate in free group discussions, almost all students are able to accept this process as a game-making play, not as an educational course. It is not ‘learn the language’, but ‘make the game’. So, the overall satisfaction level in the courses is high.

‘Game Jam’ for teenager’s coding education
‘Game Jam’ for teenagers’ coding education

Movement and Separation of Powers

In the still-evolving metaverse, co-creation is more than simple technology, know-how, ideas, and discussions. We need to look at what may evolve in the future. The traditional concept that a small group of developers who created content has almost all rights, and gamers just provide feedback, can be expected to change dramatically.

The powers previously held by developers are gradually moving to gamers and communities who participate in the virtual world. The metaverse is still mostly used in the field of games, but it will develop and be expanded into various commercial areas. Beyond games, co-creation in the extended metaverse will change into creating virtual structures and utilizing the knowledge of industry, education, and other commercial entities.

Knowledge and information has previously been monopolized by individuals or small groups. And now, that situation has changed into a more open and cooperative structure which people can freely access. The participants in co-creation rapidly share and reflect on the process. Through this, unnecessary processes and wasted resources can be streamlined, and the cycle of development and innovation is shortened. This democratization will give power for the next generation of creators.

In the future, co-creation in the metaverse will not be just about simple cooperation and creation. It will be about a shift in the balance of power, to be distributed across all participants in the virtual world.

Ted Taeyeun Yoo, CEO of UT+ Interactive, started his career as a main programmer of MMORPG game ‘Kingdom Under Fire’ in the console game development studio ‘Phantagram’. After that, he actively participated in developing 'KUF: The Crusader (Xbox)’ and ‘KUF: The Heroes (Xbox)’. He also made ‘Ninety-Nine Nights (Xbox360)’ as a development director at Blueside Studio.

He found UT+ Interactive in year 2006, and developed mobile MMORPG ‘TALION’ and UCC-based metaverse ‘DITOLAND’.
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