Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Will Wright says games are headed toward ubiquity, diversity, and art

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Will Wright is perhaps the most successful video game designer in history, creating games from SimCity toSpore. His games have sold tens of millions of units and have opened up new genres such as life simulations and “god” games. So there’s nobody better to talk about the future of video games. At a recent talk, Wright predicted games will become ubiquitous and more diverse, and some will be meaningful works of art.

The growth of games into new genres and new platforms is leading to what Wright calls the Gambrian Explosion, which is like the Cambrian Explosion 530 million years ago that gave birth to so many new species on earth. Games are flowering into new platforms and categories such as social networks, mobile phones, tablets, and augmented reality. That leads to large audiences and more diverse demographics, as everyone is playing now, from toddlers playing with iPads to older adults playing Wii Sports.

Wright’s most interesting insight during the speech was to recognize that games are following in the footsteps of other entertainment, and other media, and other tools that have come before them. As media expertMarshall McLuhan observed in the 1960s, all media is an extension of ourselves, a tool to extend a piece of ourselves to accomplish a certain goal. Hammers are extensions of our arms.  Phones are amplifications of our mouths. Computers are an extension of our minds.

“Almost every new technology is an amplification of our body,” Wright said, “Computers, the internet, social networks expand everything. The most important thing they expand is our imaginations and our brains. I think of games as imagination amplifiers. We can construct these elaborate worlds, play with them, share them back and forth, and this is one of the culturally most impactful things that our medium can offer. ”

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