Will Wright: Game design a lot like dealing drugs

GDC 2010: Sim City, The Sims, and Spore creator offers thoughts on the rise of social media in games, the allure of Advance Wars, and how games fit into the overall entertainment picture.

Who was there: On the final day of the 2010 Game Developer Conference, GameSpot got wind that legendary game designer Will Wright would be delivering an impromptu lecture. The man behind Sim City, The Sims, and Spore left EA last year to set up Stupid Fun Club, working on three "play industry" projects.

Stupid Fun Club's Will Wright.

What he talked about: Wright's 70-minute session touched on a range of topics, from past successes to the crossover of the games and movie industries and social gaming platforms. The one thing he wouldn't be drawn on, however, was his current work at Stupid Fun Club. He addressed this matter early on in his presentation, saying, "I can't talk about anything yet…but soon."

Talking about his inspirations, Wright specifically referenced Nintendo's Advance Wars on the DS as the game that he's played "probably more than any other." Every morning, he sits down with Advance Wars and a cup of coffee and spends 15 minutes spinning up his brain.

The relationship between players and game makers was perhaps the largest theme in Wright's session, and he fed back some of the findings from his previous games. "Players are inherently narcissistic--we'd see that players would spend hours creating themselves in The Sims," he said. He joked numerous times that he was essentially a drug dealer, as the end result of his work was to a stimulate player's "hormones, endorphins, and neurotransmitters."

Wright also gave his views on changing trends in gaming. Games such as Sim City were about creating a world for the player to invest in, but games have now evolved to improving the player, such as Wii Fit, or about the player, on networks such as Facebook. He also touched on the evolving nature of AI within games, with an emphasis on meta models as seen in Spore. These effectively involve communities, with players that have "a voracious appetite" but thankfully harness the power of collective effort.

He also touched upon the crossover between games and other media, such as movies. He pointed to the main science disciplines--geology, physics, biology, and chemistry and said, "the interesting stuff is in the intersections." Wright claims that a similar crossover is already happening in entertainment, pointing to augmented reality and its introduction into televised NFL football and the recent Winter Olympics.

Wright ended his presentation by touching on social games, looking at the rise of Facebook in particular over the past couple of years. Rather than displaying an exponential growth curve, though, Wright believes social games will display an S-curve over time. Investment is high at the current point of the curve, but Wright claims that growth will eventually even out. "I can see [social games] becoming a quarter of the market," he said.

Quote: "I think the highlight of my professional career was when Jack Thompson called me a child pornographer."--Will Wright on the nude patches for The Sims 2.

Takeaway: Facebook is going to be a prominent gaming platform, according to Wright, although he expects growth to slow in the long run. Wright also expects various entertainment platforms to merge, pointing at augmented reality as an example of how virtual worlds have mixed with real ones on TV. Wright also clearly plays a lot of Advance Wars.

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61 comments
enragedcritic
enragedcritic

Will Wright is awesome!! One of the best videogame creators ever!

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

He played the Jack Thompson card... Addressing gamers, that is like walking into fat camp with cheese.

NeonNinja
NeonNinja

Yeah, because Will Wright is TOTALLY in the know for dealing drugs. :roll:

etai79
etai79

Except Will Wright has never made a game, he's only designed simulations. Games /= Simulations.

sandgroper
sandgroper

let's follow this further - drugs and games AT THE SAME TIME!

teclu-cezar
teclu-cezar

I knew there was something between spore and simcity..I just didn t know it was this smart guy hehe

maverick_76
maverick_76

Man I cannot wait to see what Wright will develop next!

TheDogout
TheDogout

*Likes will wright and doesn't afraid of noobs"

zool152004
zool152004

@gruug I can see where you are coming from, when you look at how large games are becoming in scope and complexity it's hard to imagine such simple games taking a large share of market space. The fact is though, my dad has played more Solataire on his PC than i have played any other game, some people just want a quick, accessible game that doesn't always require total commitment and is rewarding in very small doses and that's what most Facebook games are about. Us core gamers (if you wanna use that term) don't understand it but those people just aren't interested in big epics like God of War or Mass Effect, they'll just look to another medium like movies or books.

SocialAnXieTy
SocialAnXieTy

"I think the highlight of my professional career was when Jack Thompson called me a child pornographer." Hahaha. I almost forgot about dear ol' Jack. And yeah, this guy has definitely done LSD.

blakeney
blakeney

@ TehReaper you cant? alot of weed dealers are old hippys, WW has clearly expreimented in his past, just look at his games! or the fact he uses words like neurotransmitters! he has LSD written allover him lol!

MacenKrace
MacenKrace

Play Kotor and then review your opinion. If a story is that good that it keep you going, is then that book also compared to drugs?

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

I wonder if Wright puts accused of being a child pornographer on his resume?

Bleed4TheWorld
Bleed4TheWorld

I've only played a couple of Sims games and the majority of that includes Sims 2. It was great and definitely addicting (not to mention a huge time killer haha). I would absolutely LOVE a true Sims for consoles without negating so many features.

CronoDAS
CronoDAS

But does he play "Advance Wars: Dual Strike" or "Advance Wars: Days of Ruin"?

Gruug
Gruug

"Facebook is going to be a prominant gaming platform", maybe for entry level gaming and for those that want to play something for "free". Games offered by places like Facebook are really not very good games. After a few hours of game time (much less actually) they all become pretty mundane. I am sure that game designers like the "idea" of such a new platform but it really is not the best platform.

HollowNinja
HollowNinja

You know, I'm not a big fan of Will Wright. He's too social-oriented. But he plays Advance Wars, so I respect him a little for that. I hope he plays Fire Emblem too. I think the highlight of my professional career was when Jack Thompson called me a child pornographer." BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah! Now that's hilarious.

rajesh_
rajesh_

Was Wright involved in the ruining of Spore? If so, I hate the hell out of him.

rangeraa
rangeraa

"Quote: "I think the highlight of my professional career was when Jack Thompson called me a child pornographer."--Will Wright on the nude patches for The Sims 2. " BAHAHA! Thank God that fool got disbarred finally!

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

is there ever gonna be sim city 5, or the sims on consoles or new tailroad tycoon for consoles or maybe sim city rush hour on consoles

rodrigovega
rodrigovega

@candoitagain The guy is just being funny. I mean, no metally healthy person would take it seriusly. WW rocks

calebcop
calebcop

I don't really care for will wright, I kinda hate sims, just flat out boring in my opinion. Though I never got to play Spore.

The_Fire_Mage
The_Fire_Mage

@gladestone1 You know maxis didn't make simcity societys right? I believe it was the people that made the ceasar games? Not too sure on that, but maxis did NOT work on it.

pete_merlin
pete_merlin

Will Wright doesnt look like your average drug dealer lol When Thompson called him a child pornographer...well that one quote basically sums up how wrong Thompson was every time he spoke his opinion.

candoitagain
candoitagain

In a time where media are all rambling about gaming being addictive, unhealthy, and a cause for violence... good old Wright goes and say now that it is like drugs? Not helping. I think Wright has missed an occasion to shut up.

candoitagain
candoitagain

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

TehReaper
TehReaper

I can't imagine Will Wright selling drugs lol.

Johny_47
Johny_47

I've never played a Sim City game... seriously =/ maybe I'll give the most recent a go sometime. I quite like the Sims, maybe that's like a drug in a way as I thought it was quite 'addictive'.

Zfraz
Zfraz

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

icepop4who
icepop4who

I'm definitely a junkie. Needs the stuff.

PsiPhiTy1
PsiPhiTy1

Advance Wars (all of 'em) and Fire Emblem are my two favorite IPs in gaming putting Civilization in third and Age of Empires 4th. As far as the drugs reference goes; the same could be said for ANYTHING we buy, ( or get, attain, achieve,seek...) to change the way we feel (most often for the better) at a given moment; ie food, fast cars etc... Hordes of academic and scientific studies indicate people spend more often to change the way they feel and most often on what they WANT instead of what they NEED....but as soon as we begin looking for something outside of ourselves to change the way we feel on the inside, we're headed down dangerous grounds. I personally (unfortunately) have been through enough to speak from experience. Another healthy lesson in life learned through gaming.... (hey gaming haters' .. 'ya catch that?)

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Ea stop screwing around with maxis..Give us a true new sim city game..If you build it people will come, trust me..Ill buy every copy one for my wii xbox an pc..People love city builders why have you been waiting so long to make it..You tried an failed with that crap societies..The people have spoken now give us your tired your poor..Give us your new sim city..

ASG_
ASG_

I still can't stand the name "Stupid Fun Club", it's just dumb.

Adam_the_Nerd
Adam_the_Nerd

Referring to video games as drugs is simultaneously a humorous and interesting analogy. I sat down at 2pm once to play Mass Effect 2 and when I turned off my Xbox, it was 11:30pm. HMM

william623
william623

yeah, he is legend, papa's of Simulator!!!

shujikun07
shujikun07

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

dawgrejectx
dawgrejectx

Sorry i disagree Will Wright is not a Legendary game designer, to me Legendary is a designer that makes a game anyone can play, Wright is far from capable of doing that.

fossil100K
fossil100K

I love Will Wright!! I was a bit bummed out that there was no video on the 70 minute session -- would have preferred getting Will Wright's insight on the gaming industry over Sid Meier's gamer psychology presentation -- which ended up being way too tedious.

MERGATROYDER
MERGATROYDER

Will Wright is the man. I'm not a fan of The Sims, but I do love me some Spores.

shakensparco
shakensparco

Well it's nice to know he has good taste in strategy games.

jazilla
jazilla

i saw will wright do a power point presentation at comic-con a few years back. that is one smart, funny dude.

Ovirew
Ovirew

Will Wright playes Advance Wars, hell yeah.

Knutte79
Knutte79

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

wiifan001
wiifan001

"Video games are like drugs because they stimulate to players endorphins, hormones and neurotransmitters." :lol::lol::lol: It's funny because it's true! I freekin love Will Wright.

Knutte79
Knutte79

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]