Platformer as Platform: LittleBigPlanet and the Limits of Protocol

Brian Keilen and Brian Keilen


Allowing users to generate their own content is a growing trend in the video game industry. From building games such as Minecraft to games containing level editors such as LittleBigPlanet, developers are giving gamers the ability to create a wide variety of their own games and levels spanning a variety of genres. While these games are steeped in the rhetoric of "freedom" and "creativity," their underlying mechanics reveal a rigid structure of control. This paper explores the history of game modifications, from early PC mods of Doom to the modern conception of user generated content. Using Galloway's (2006) notion of protocol and Montfort and Bogost's platform studies (2009) as a starting point, I argue that these games mask platformer as platform in order to co opt the labor of their users in order to perpetuate their own systems.