Designing Interactions

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Will Wright

Will Wright is interviewed in Chapter 5 – Play. Will and Bing Gordon are both articulate about the nature of play. Brenda Laurel describes designing games for girls, and Brendan Boyle talks about a process for inventing toys and games.

Will Wright is the best-known guru in game design, partly because the Sims is the best-selling game of all time for personal computers, but more significantly because he is so articulate about what he does and how he does it. He remembers the books he has read, and quotes the titles and authors as he talks. He thinks through the reasons behind his design decisions and presents an analysis in simple and accessible terms. His manner is direct and unpretentious, and although he normally seems serious, there is often a twinkle in his eye. Will bought an early Apple II in 1980 and found himself immediately sucked into writing programs and building simulations. His first game was published in 1984, and the first version of SimCity was developed a year later, running on a Commodore 64. He founded Maxis in 1987, with managing partner Jeff Braun, and created a series of simulation games, culminating with the Sims. The games in the series have earned a reputation for intelligent and creative design, with a sense of social responsibility. If you add up all the different games, they have sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.

Will admits to having spent too much of his childhood making models and simulations, leading to his vocation of game design. He talks about designing the Sims, a game that is about social interactions and soon becomes a hobby. He describes the way in which a game designer can keep the player entertained, offering rewards in progressive iterations.

Will holding a Sim. Photo courtesy of Electronic Arts