What’s In a Name?

Why “Emergent Game Design”? I’d like to say it was after weeks of careful and meticulous research into the optimal company name but in reality it was after just a half an hour of playing around with various name combinations until I found one I liked and seemed to have a reasonable chance of not conflicting with existing company names.

The root concept behind the name, however, is one I’ve always liked: that a combination of simple principles can be combined to form a complex pattern. You see it in a variety of places in nature and mathematics:

  • Fractals — Many fractals can be described with relatively simple rules but have infinite complexity. The Mandelbrot fractal, for example, whose images is seen at the top of this page, can be described by just “Z(n+1)=Z(n)*Z(n)+C”.
  • Snowflakes — A virtually infinite number of shapes possible from the simple 120 degree angle formed by the atoms in a water molecule and the conditions in which it was formed.
  • Flocking — and other similar behaviour exhibited by groups of animals originates from only a few basic rules but results in complex patterns.

Extending this into the realm of computer games and we can find many similar examples of complex and, more importantly, fun games based on simple ideas:

  • MineCraft — Get blocks and build with them (a virtual world of Lego essentially).
  • Super Mario — Along with most platform games is just moving to the right and not dieing.
  • Pacman — Eat dots.
  • Bejeweled — and other variants involve matching and grouping coloured objects.

A few of my favorite quotes I’ve always enjoyed share this same theme:

“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  – Albert Einstein

“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” — Albert Einstein

“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry

In hindsight the name is also appropriate as its full initials, EDGI (Emergent Game Design Inc.) is but one letter away from my full initials (DEGH). Unfortunately, I’m not away of any legal corporate designation beginning with “H”.

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