Video games are media through which people can convey their stories and ambitions to others in an interactive format. One such game embodies this notion to the degree that it is built around it: Dreams by Media Molecule. Dreams is regarded as more of a “game creation system” than a standalone game, as its developers as well as the game’s community are responsible for driving the content. Here, we already see the values of social interaction and creativity present in the game. These values “emerge in specification of game mechanics,” such as the ability to “thumbs up” dreams after playing them, having dreams be sorted into categories such as trending or recommended, and the ability to include prize bubbles of player made items that others can use in their own creations (Nissenbaum, Flanagan 184). These mechanics foster creativity in the sense that grander levels and games attract more people to follow you and your creations. Its interface acts similar to many social media platforms, which drives players to try to reach the top trending while also increasing the quality of the creations made by the community.
These factors pertain to the engagement with creations by other users, but these values are still represented in the self-creation part of the game. Players have near complete customization of the game’s features such as camera, player controls, level design and so on. This freedom allows nearly any type of game to be created. Within Dreams there are fps games, 2D platformers, puzzle games, racing games, horror games, and the list goes on. This wide array is possible because of the freedoms allotted by the creation system, which is much more freeform than the developer’s previous games with stage creation, the LittleBigPlanet games. This presentation does also pose a conflict that may be encountered by players, in which they may struggle to find even a baseline for their creations due to how open ended it is. With the idea that limitation breeds creativity, this conflict could be “recurrent” and difficult to overcome, and players could get burnt out with the inability to create on par with more popular creators (Nissenbaum, Flanagan 186). The competitive element that stems from social and community values, however, is a necessary component in fostering a continuously thriving gameplay environment, and demonstrates how the games values are reflected in the player base.
Nissenbaum, Helen. Flanagan, Mary. “A Game Design Methodology to Incorporate Social Activist Themes.” April 28th, 2007.
Dreams is available on the PS4 and PS5 systems.