Thursday, 9 May 2013

Will Wright Talks About the State of Gaming and the SimCity Launch

Spoilers: he finds both wanting

Will Wright is the man behind the games that make you love to do the kind of stuff that you normally play games to avoid. Stuff like SimCity, The Sims, Spore, and other games that generally most of the time have you doing things like going to work and attempting to have good relations with the neighbours, often resulting in poor relationships with your actual flesh and blood ones.

Will recently sat down with gamesindustry to talk about a couple of things. The thing that most people would probably be paying attention to would be his thoughts on the objectively disasterous SimCity launch, but he also weighed in on the general state of the gaming industry in general. He has telling assertions about both of them.

First and foremost is the SimCity thing, where Will admits that even though he "feel bad for the team," that worked on the game, and thinks that it was a particular section of EA, rather than the nebulous whole that is responsible, that the ire the launch earned from gamers was far from misplaced. He notes, "That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same."

Wright is slow to blame EA, as I mentioned, saying that SimCity as a franchise was in "this very uncomfortable space, like the uncanny valley, almost; [it was caught] between was it a single player game or was it a multiplayer game?" Many would argue against that, seeing the game as primarily single player, but it is important to note that even with Wright speaking as such he still doesn't like how things went, and made it clear before he said that.

SimCity wasn't the only thing that Will wanted to talk about though, he mused a little on the state of gaming in general. He seems a little stymied with how things are currently, but it's hard to put it into the words besides the ones he used himself: "I think we have an extremely powerful medium here at our disposal, and I think we've only realized a small fraction of its potential," Wright said. "It wouldn't take too many things to really impact a lot of people. Relative to what we have as a medium, with what we could be doing with it, we're falling way short."

With this proclamation I don't think that he's going for the David Cage "only now can games show emotion" kind of thing, at least that's not how it's coming off to me. Like many, Wright seems to think that a lot of potential is to be had with the indie scene, saying "Now, every week somebody tells me about some weird little app that came out. Not big budget, but they're interesting and fun out of the box. It's a much more level playing field, I think."

While I don't consider indie to be the be all and end all, I do think that they're willing and able to take more risks and offer different things than the mainstream publishers. I'm not sure that the whole industry needs to be like that, but right now a move in that direction might not hurt, all things considered.

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