Given the increasing popularity of metaverse land sales, we chose to explore a parallel (and sometimes concurrent) genre of video game: world builder games. The Merriam Webster dictionary states that “in the 19th century, ‘world building’ described the imaginative realm of artists and poets. Today, it is most often used to describe the creation of an entirely new fictional world.” Although that statement applies to the literary definition, it also describes the genre of games that have come to be defined by this term. While game development studios often have entire teams that spend countless hours constructing the worlds that players inhabit, world builder games take a different approach — instead giving the player the tools that they need in order to craft their own world inside of the game. In this article we will cover what world builder games are, what makes them so compelling and what the metaverse might mean for the genre.
At their core, world builder games are self-descriptive: the gameplay generally consists of a player gathering resources (or not, in the case of sandbox style world builders) in order to construct the world around them — with varying degrees of granularity in terms of what the player can change. In some world builders, players can change everything from gravity to the density of objects in the world, whereas others are a little bit more guided and have hardcoded values in order to create a more cohesive experience. Some world builder games will allow characters to create logic within the game in order to make it more interactive, as well as to create missions and quests in more sandbox-style games. If you had to describe all world builder games with one sentence, it would be that world builder games cannot be described by one sentence due to their inherent nature: the end result of what the game feels like is always up to the player, not the genre.
Minecraft is, of course, the world builder game that has captured the imagination of millions of players and fans to the point where it has been utilised as a controversial base layer for additional metaverse experiences, such as The Sandbox, but it is certainly not the only example of a world builder that has reached mass popularity. Roblox is an entire company and also a stock you can purchase in US equity markets. Games such as Surviving Mars beg the question: “what would your version of a colony on mars look like?”, whereas Cities: Skylines begs the same question about life here on earth and The Sims franchise about life inside the home. We would be remiss not to mention some crypto native competitors in the arena, such as old favourites Decentraland and Cryptovoxels, which bridge the gap between an entirely made-up universe and our own. One thing that all of these games share are incredibly passionate communities who often interact with the digital realm with the same emotion as the physical realm.
Indeed, there is something inherent to world builders that keeps players coming back. This is perhaps one reason why we have seen so much interest and investment into the metaverse space from all different walks of life and industry. The idea of a metaverse is, in some ways, really just an expansion of that of a world builder game with the addition of a massively multiplayer component, some base rules that all characters must abide by, as well as the ability to transact with real value. This idea of a native cross-reality economy is what has been missing from existing world builder games, with players stuck with various resources, credits, or other demonstrations of values inside the game that took the player real time and effort in order to be able to capture, but which have no real value or meaning outside of the game. Metaverse and Web3 offer a way to capture that value and to create more cohesive communities of players.
Whether Minecraft allows other metaverse projects to utilise their game as a base interaction layer remains to be seen, but one thing that is certain: GamiFi will cover the latest in blockchain-based gaming and metaverse news. Make sure that you follow us on Twitter, as we continue on our quest to GamiFi Everything!