I tried the free version of Minecraft recently, and in the brief time I explored the world and mechanics I saw what everyone was talking about. It really is an amazing sandbox game, which you don’t hear very often. Merits of the game aside, what hit me more than the potential for creation was what players had already created. It just reinforced for me a point I’d been thinking about lately.
Our gamer culture has produced a very wonderful situation, if you haven’t noticed. We have created a huge pool of intelligent people who are in love with games and will do and learn and try almost anything to make a living off of video games. That’s why sites like Kongregate and Newgrounds exist, why game development blogs are so popular, why colleges now offer game development programs, and why positions in established game studios are so competitive. But the end result is a pool of talent much larger than the demand for that talent. This means that there is a lot of eager talent being wasted.
Games like Minecraft allow this underappreciated talent to shine, showing the level of dedication that they have to quality content creation. Its free content/publicity for the game and a great showcase for the player.
Now obviously the caveat here is that for every Wonder there are about 99 player created wiener jokes of content, and its unfortunate that that’s what we focus on in discussions of player created content. But to be perfectly blunt, 99 out of 100 people in the real world create very little incredible content for the world (children aside), but that 100th person can end up as a Leonardo Da Vinci or an Andrew Carnegie or a Mark Zuckerberg. The point is that the world benefits more from the incredible 1% than it is hurt by the less-than-epic 99%.
Net gain, but only if you give people the chance to try.