×

Wright: Virtual world designer built it, and they came

Britannia Awards 2012: Albert R. Broccoli Award - Will Wright

Game designer Will Wright scored a hit with “SimCity” in 1989 and a decade later spun the property into the billion-dollar franchise “The Sims.”

But the pixilated metropolises and clumsy avatars of those properties would still be drifting in the ether if Wright, the Albert R. Broccoli Britannia honoree for contributions to entertainment worldwide, hadn’t realized early on that players have more fun if encouraged to create rather than destroy.

SimCity,” the first in the “Sim” series, was spawned from the overhead graphics of towns and fields in his war simulation game “Raid on Bungeling Bay.” Wright overhauled the game to delete the armed helicopters and add a host of tools to help players build infrastructure. And though players were initially attracted to the destructive bulldozer tool, he says they quickly tired of plowing houses and starting fires.

“There was no challenge to it, almost like poking an ant colony with a stick,” Wright says. “But then after doing that for a few minutes they started rebuilding the city, rebuilding the roads and fixing the power lines. I think players quickly realized that the challenge was really in creating this fragile complex thing and not destroying it.”

His virtual reality game “The Sims” started similarly as a permutation on an idea. The socially oriented characters were an afterthought to the program, which began as a robust architecture simulation tool and became a hit for Electronic Arts.

“It turned out that it was so much fun managing the people that it became the focus of the game, even though the architecture stuff remained in it,” says Wright.

The game developer and entrepreneur’s next challenge is taking the gaming platform out of the virtual world and into reality with a suit of apps and products being developed and spun off from his thinktank, the Stupid Fun Club.

The purpose of his new venture, Wright says, will be to apply game theory to reality by making participants aware of the possibility spaces around them. Every game has a defined possibility space — a set of possible outcomes to achieve the game’s objective. Is there one way to save the princess or a thousand? Wright’s ambition now is to clue players into the myriad possibilities of their reality.

“We have the ability now for these systems and games to come to a very deep understanding of our real lives and what we are doing and why we are doing it,” Wright says. “I think that to put a framework around it we are giving people a deeper situational awareness of their everyday life.”

Britannia Awards 2012
John Schlesinger Award – Quentin Tarantino | Stanley Kubrick Award – Daniel Day-Lewis | British Artist of the Year – Daniel Craig | Charlie Caplin Award – Matt Stone & Trey Parker | Albert R. Broccoli Award – Will Wright
Britannia Awards discovers jolly-good TV home

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • homepod-white-shelf

    Apple Said to Prep Cheaper HomePod for 2020

    Apple is getting ready to introduce a cheaper version of its HomePod smart speaker in 2020, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The company is also working on a new version of its AirPod headphones for next year, according to Bloomberg. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The new version of the HomePod is said [...]

  • Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem’s Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to improve royalty payments for songwriters. The news was [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

  • Spotify logo is presented on a

    Spotify Triples Free-Trial Period on Premium Service

    Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant’s offerings without paying for them. According to the announcement, the offer is “always-on/not limited time,” and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Lapse May Have Exposed Customer Credit Card Data

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, confirmed that a security issue may have exposed customers’ records online, including credit card info. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. News of the data breach was first reported Tuesday by TechCrunch, which alleged that [...]

  • Tycho weather app

    This Website Creates Spotify & Apple Music Playlists Based on Your Local Weather

    Electronica musician Tycho launched a clever promotional website for his new album “Weather” this week: Visitors of Tycho’s website can use a web app to generate a playlist based on their local weather. Playlists can be saved to both Spotify and Apple Music, and consist of 25 songs, both from Tycho’s catalog as well as [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content