Defragmentation and Mashup: Ludic Mashup as a Design Approach


The history of technological progress has involved a repeated application of abstraction, of encapsulation, specialization and composition. Film, for example, has moved from a specialized field of equipment and concepts only available to trained professionals, into a field which has been commoditized and composited, and made available to almost everyone with basic equipment. New media has become more modular and thus passes into the hands of users who rely less on crafting from scratch and rely more on pre-built, readymade components that can be assembled. This “pulling together”, i.e. this “mashup” or “remix” approach is already trivially true in the field of games in the modding community, which may introduce new 3D models, images, music or even new code blocks which change behaviors. These are very important, but signal a future move toward more sophisticated, pre-packaged modular blocks which players might assemble on their own in a more controlled manner. This might include swappable A.I. algorithms, interchangeable in-game weapons, interoperable “rulesets” and other key game entities that are normally thought of as being integral to a specific, single game. While mashup, assemblage and perhaps actor-network-theory has highlighted the ways in which a game played in context is more than the sum of its parts, this paper looks to the future of game design, in which players can assemble (on-the-fly) a set of game components. Such a situation is a defragmenting of ready-made ludic chunks, resulting in unpredictable and chaotic games created by players, and forces designers to consider their role less as a creator of a game in toto, but also as designers of interoperable ludic components.