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.
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.
He played the Jack Thompson card... Addressing gamers, that is like walking into fat camp with cheese.
@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.
"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.
@ 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!
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?
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.
"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.
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.
"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!
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
@candoitagain The guy is just being funny. I mean, no metally healthy person would take it seriusly. WW rocks
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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'.
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?)
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..
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
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.
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.
i saw will wright do a power point presentation at comic-con a few years back. that is one smart, funny dude.
"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.
Content you might like…
There's more to the Game Developers Conference than technology demos and postmortems. We signed up for the conference's tutorial track to take a crash course in games writing.
- Mar 8, 2012
Users who looked at this article also looked at these content items.
Avalanche Studios co-founder says developer's ambition is for action, not moments that make players cry; steampunk-style game on hold. Full Story
- Posted May 15, 2013 6:33 am PT
4A Games creative director Andrew Prokhorov thanks Jason Rubin for telling the studio's story, but says, "We deserve the ratings we get." Full Story
- Posted May 16, 2013 12:44 pm PT