The Art of Peace in War: Emergent friendship in player versus player games

In just a few weeks, Sea of Thieves releases, a zany and fun pirate game filled with magic, mystery, and majestic ocean views.  The world of Sea of Thieves is a dangerous place with no safe zones for players (full pvp) and tons of incentives to attack other crews with your best buds.  Excitement and action abound!  However, one of my favorite things about this game that has me so excited outside of the amazing ship battles, interesting treasure riddles to solve, beautiful rendering of the ocean waves, and amazing weather simulations… are the musical instruments.

From the start, each player is given in their inventory an accordion and an odd stringed instrument called a hurdy gurdy.  Rare, the developer, is no stranger to fun within games and these instruments are very cleverly implemented.  If someone starts to play a song, anyone can join in, with the game syncing up the playing so that it sounds like anyone else just jumped into the tune, automatically assigning melody, harmony, and bass parts to other players.  Because of this, there’s this sensation of unity and fun as a crew performs together using items that would otherwise be a simple addition to the game and wouldn’t really have another purpose.

But it’s the fact the game designers put music that the players can play together into the game that I find so fascinating and important.  In a world filled with cannonballs and cutlasses, Rare dropped an element into the game that has no aggressive action to it (besides maybe playing Flight of the Valkyries as people charge into battle).  In fact, as the saying of soothing a savage beast would indicate, this element of gameplay is really an antithesis of what most games are about.

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