I like to describe “emergent behavior” as this: “1+1=3”. To describe using words: emergent behavior means that something “bigger/unique/different” is born from simpler building blocks, or that some kind of new behavior appears when you combine 2 (or more) other things.
A few days ago, I asked my daughter (1 year 6 months) a question. I pointed my finger at something and asked “what’s that?”. She said “brrrmrrrm”, which totally delighted me positively. I was pointing my finger at a picture of a car.
Why was I positively surprised? Answer: emergent behavior.
Some days earlier, we had taught our daughter that “car says vrmmmm”. To her it was “brrrmrrrm”. When we asked “what car says”, she would delightedly reply “brrrmrrrm”. Now, when asked “what is that”, she saw a picture of a car and said “brrrmrrrm”. It was surprising, since usually she mentions the name of the objects (like “kukka!” – flower that is).
I must point out that if that didn’t sound fun… then please just take my word for it. It was fun moment for me!
So, by combining two different things (action: “car says vrrrrm” and object:”that’s a car”), a new behavior emerged “that’s vrrrrm”), which caught me off guard.
Similar things happen in games all the time. And when you put effort in thinking about the smallest building blocks and actions player can do with them, a new odd and fun combinations might arise.
And that’s fun.