Media Convergence in Little Big Planet

In his article Dueze points to Counter Strike as an example of convergence culture in the gaming world.  While it is a great case to study for such a phenomenon, it is one of many in the world of computer games.  If we switch over to the home console arena (ie Xbox360, Playstation 3, and Wii) we notice a considerable drought in this sort of open source gaming.  Enter LittleBigPlanet.  While marketed most heavily as Sony’s flagship “family” title, it represents something larger in the world of console gaming.

LittleBigPlanet is a retail game for the PS3 that came out in the fall of 2008 boasting a philosophy of “Play. Create. Share.”  They officially transformed this design philosophy into a game genre when they announced and released Modnation Racers, a kart racer in the same spirit of LittleBigPlanet.  What MediaMolecule did with the release of LBP was create a platform with a standardized tool set that allowed players of the game to go in and make their own platforming levels and publish them online within the game for all players to browse, play, and rate.  Taking it a step further, they offered full transparency of their level creation by announcing that all the levels they had built for the retail release were made using the tools provided to the players.  As an owner of LBP I can tell you that the community exploded with creativity immediately at launch, and continues to grow strong today.  The reception was so strong that it prompted the creation of a sequel.

LittleBigPlanet2 is on schedule for a release this fall, and it takes the Play. Create. Share. mentality even further.  Their marketing for the game notes that it has changed from a platform game into a platform for games, and this couldn’t be more accurate.  MediaMolecule has expanded the tool set so greatly that they are now supporting the use of a mouse and keyboard for the creation aspect of the game and allowing users to create levels that fit into almost any genre of game as well as linking several levels together with narrative elements in order to create full games.  As the article I link to from IGN states, “this time media Molecule is giving you the tools to make your games legit.”  LittleBigPlanet, with its vast tool set, fully transparent creation process and in game online publishing system, represents as close to a complete flattening of the consumer/producer hierarchy as can be seen in the field of console gaming.

LittleBigPlanet Links:

Outside Article:

6 Responses to “Media Convergence in Little Big Planet”
  1. Very clever, Donny! (Locking down your topic with a partial post.)

    I endorse this practice. It lets everyone else know that “Little Big Planet” belongs to you for Blog Post 3.

    Just make sure you stick to the one you chose.

  2. P.S. I notice you still have not changed the time zone for this blog. It would be nice if you did.

  3. fanninchen says:

    It’s indeed a very interesting game!! It make me relate to “wii” that it lets us to create our own character, decide our own character’s appearance. But LittleBigPlanet is more than that, it can publish, share and provide a more profound playing experience that includes participation and creativity. It makes me remind of my childhood when my fellows and I create mazes to play with each other. It is the challenge and the sense of achievement that push us to create more and more mazes to play with. Just like the LittleBigPlanet does, with a better looking platform, it makes the game not just a game. Here is the LittleBigPlanet2’s game intro

  4. Open source is indeed a great example of convergence because it makes the user also a producer. It’s great for the user who can get affordable or free updates. It’s great for the user who wants to put his ideas into action by creating.
    But, it also changes who makes the money. There’s not one Bill Gates piling up mansions and cars, but it also makes it more difficult to make game designing your primary income. Is this great for the people who want careers in gaming?

  5. I’ve heard the title in passing before, but now I know a lot more, so thanks for that! I’m familiar with a lot of game customizations on the PC, but you’re right – there’s been a sad lack with the newer consoles. I think a lot of that certainly has to do with accessibility: are the gamemaking tools for the consoles made widely available, and how easy to navigate are their interfaces? With PC games, everything is so easily downloadable and uploadable, and we have so many different areas of common expertise with PCs that I think it’s easier to learn now processes there as well. I know nothing about game design, or knew nothing before, but I’ve managed to tinker around with meshes for The Sims games, create a tiny little game with the RPGMaker toolkit (on the PC – I found the Playstation version not as accessible), and have at least looked at some of the toolkits for games like Dragon Age and Oblivion. I also tend to prefer PC games over their console counterparts – I feel more in control.

    You mention that this platform will be coming out with a mouse, which I think is integral to its success – that’s a tool that we’re all familiar and capable with. What happen here with this kind of “everyone” immersive marketing is that more people may be attracted to gaming and develop this expertise because that is what they expect to be able to do, where previously we see people coming into gaming first and then learning to mod and such after the fact. It’s an interesting switch.

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