By Mike Davisson
April Grow, Melanie Dickinson, Jonathan Pagnutti, Noah Wardip-Fruin, and Michael Mateas of the University of California Santa Cruz developed an investigation into crafting within new age videogames. The results of the investigation was featured in Digital Humanities Quarterly. Crafting in video games has become very popular and has traversed through games centered around the whole idea of crafting into games centered around fighting or shooting with the ability to craft as a method of spicing up the entertainment. This educational article also focuses in on methods of crafting from moving objects around in a specific order to create new things to clicking a button on a window and the crafting process happening automatically. The article goes even further in depth into the design of crafting like ascetics crafting and how the crafting in games was based on specific real-life cultures.
The article further examines the specificities and different view points within crafting in games. The definition of crafting varies game to real-world. How does the crafting process happen? Are materials used in the crafting their own objects or are just a name. Is crafting an activity, a puzzle, or is it wherein an automated process? How involved is both the character and the player involved in crafting? The answer to most of these involves the cultural evolution and aspects within different games. This article also discusses the definition of a recipe, how flexible material usage is, and many other variables such as specific recipes and the multiple outcomes and recipes, not a form of crafting but a game mechanic used to create materials or items.
Another part of this article is resources and the way they are used including currency, blueprints, and compilation of points. The article notes how there are consumed resources like currency or blueprints which are when being used, and the article gives several examples to which this time of resource use is applied. There are also present resources like tools needed to be present within the crafting process like a jeweler’s kit within World of Warcraft, which remains in your inventory after crafting rings with it.
The last third of the article deals with such topics as time, location, and variable outcome. Time is often a tricky topic in video games as there is often time required in the process of crafting. For some games, crafting can be something that takes hours with variating times depending on what is being designed wherein a game like World of Warcraft everything takes seconds to craft regardless of what is being crafted. Location is often important as some places and environmental objects are required to craft. How this compares to the idea of present resources is blurred, as somebody could argue that the forge in the forgery is a present resource. Variable outcome is the issue with certain items gaining randomly generated attributes. When crafting isn’t necessarily completely based upon the recipe but a randomness. This kind of crafting mechanic isn’t often found in video games; however, it is based upon real-world ideals. The idea of workmanship and detail of a weapon or tool is reflected from real life and set into games and a unique game mechanic.
This article takes an extreme in-depth approach to a mechanic in games that are never overlooked but often only taken at face value. It makes its readers look back on games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and survival horror games to observe specific cultural subsections that develop just because of the use of crafting.
Grow, April, et al. “Crafting in Games.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 011, no. 4, Dec. 2017.