Can video games judge the creativity of players?

While you should be trying to engender players to be creative, Neko Entertainment lead designer Eddy Leja-Six argues that games can't actually judge that creativity -- and so even blocking player progress "is a slight punishment" that should be avoided.
While many games have engendered -- or even required -- creative solutions to gameplay questions, computers can't rate players' creativity, posits Neko Entertainment lead game designer Eddy Leja-Six. He writes this as part of an expansive new Gamasutra feature in which he examines the very nature of creativity, and discusses games which incorporate it -- from Spore to LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft -- and explores how games can best utilize it to player satisfaction. In EA's Create, he writes, players are asked to build creative solutions to problems, but the game can't distinguish between basic and highly creative structures: Create is unable to rate creativity. No existing video game could. Even fellow human beings are sometimes very poor at assessing another person's ideas -- as developers, you probably know about that problem. How could a basic video game AI crack such a subjective question? Of course, games often pretend to acknowledge the players' sensitivity, for instance when judging the player's interior design (as in Nintendo's Animal Crossing) or when reacting to the name you just typed in: "Bollocks? My, what a pretty name!" Nintendo's Wii Music has a very interesting approach. It allows the players to pick instruments, play the chosen track, design a cover, and then the system asks them to rate their own work, with no limitations whatsoever. The designers knew the game was unable to judge the music's quality, so the only pertinent opinion is the players'. Creativity cannot be identified or rated by a computer. If creativity cannot be identified by the computer, it cannot reward it and more importantly, it should never punish players for not being creative. Even preventing the player from continuing to play is a slight punishment. You can read Leja-Six's full feature, which is live now on Gamasutra.

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