Friday, February 22, 2008

GDC 2008: Will Wright in person

Will Wright has been conspicuously absent from the media spotlight in the past couple of years. A media comrade and I were speculating as to exactly why this might be happening while we waited for Wright to come on stage last night. We decided we didn't know why he's been so hermit-like.

Electronic Arts, the publisher of Wright’s games, staged this exclusive party at a San Francisco nightclub as a chance to get everyone together for a party, duh, but also to give Wright a chance to do a public event. He did not disappoint.

In his 40-minute talk, Wright ranged from Star Wars to James Bond to Gilligan’s Island to Godzilla to Walt Disney. His central theme was talking about “worlds,” his word for franchise or brand or entertainment property.

In the middle of it all was a “Russian Space Minute” in which Wright told us the incredible story of a failed Soviet rocket launch.

What Wright did not talk about, though, was Spore, except to mention it as an example of something he had worked on.

At the end of his entertaining ramble, what Wright left us with is that “the value of worlds and play experiences is they help us refine our world view.”

For Wright, the best worlds (and therefore the best stories) can be deconstructed. In this way, they lead to play. The example Wright gave was the thought experiment in which you wonder which would win a battle between the Death Star, a Cylon Battlestar, and a Borg cube.

The other side of this is that the best play is generative, and therefore leads to a myriad of stories that can be told.

Bringing this all together means that worlds/story leads to play, which leads to worlds and story, in this precious and neverending cycle.

Spore, by the way, will be available for PC, Mac, and Nintendo DS on September 7.

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