Virtual ecologies: LittleBigPlanet

Posted by Ian on Nov 6, 2008 in blog | One Comment

Following on from the discussion of whether computer games can change the world, LittleBigPlanet is one such game which may present a role model for ecological sensibilities.
Developed by Sony for the Playstation 3, LittleBigPlanet is a standard Mario-esque adventure game which features the character Sack Boy who endeavours to overcome obstacles and enemies to rescue his love.
There are two things that make LittleBigPlanet different from other platform games.
First, the game is infinitely editable. The game comes with all the tools utilised by the developers to make new levels for the game from scratch and to redesign Sack Boy’s appearance and behaviour.
Second, you can network your Playstation 3 to the internet and share levels with other players, playing their challenges, modifying their levels and collaboratively expanding the LittleBigPlanet game world.
Although this mightn’t seem strikingly different to the opportunities for virtual ecological developments found in virtual worlds such as SecondLife, LittleBigPlanet is an imaginative realm which does not immediately attempt to simulate ‘real’ world forms or behaviour or replace ‘real’ world socialisation. As such, it is simply play.
With the increasingly dominance of digital socialisation, it is beneficial to see a role for play theory in the becoming of these new spaces. LittleBigPlanet present opportunities for people to play will simultaneously having an ecological experience, witnessing the impact that their agency has on virtual worlds.
[Disclaimer: I’d like to register a complaint about the game script for LittleBigPlanet though. It is somewhat inappropriate that it accepts the default paternalistic gender roles – Sack Boy is the hero, and he saves the girl. The game does allow for the design of these components, but it would have been somewhat more revolutionary if they had selected gender neutral characters.]
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1 Comment

  1. Colleen
    13 November 2008

    I’ve played around a bit with little big planet as well–the game physics are pretty interesting. I guess I haven’t picked up the storyline with the boy saving the girl yet.

    I’ve really been enjoying reading your blog, cheers!


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