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Will wright on user-created gaming-from poptech

October 20, 2006

Will Wright, the creator of Sim City, spoke at PopTech about his latest creation, Spore.

Spore, in many ways is an extension of Sim City, but it takes it way further. Inspired by the Eames’ Powers of Ten, , the game allows the users to evolve from cell to civilization and evolve over time or, “Today the Tide Pool, Tomorrow the Universe”.

One of the most interesting aspects of the talk was the business thinking behind the game. The newest games now take longer to create, require massive teams and therefore are expensive to make.

Wright’s solution with Spore involves the users in the development of the game. There’s lots of evidence that user-creation is happening big time in gaming- The SIMS has over 1 million user-created characters and 100,000 pieces of furniture.

The problem is how you do you do it?

There’s a “bell curve” to user-creativity, with lots of “crap” and a few “gems”.

So how do you close the gap and get better stuff?

You look around you and look at how toys encourage creativity in kids and you build tools to make design, shaping and coloring easy for everyone.

Aside from lowering development costs, the other benefit to user-creation is more stickiness. People have a deeper emotional connection to characters that they created, this means they spend more time with the game and can spend more on it. Another good thing is that all these interactions can now be measured.

It also changes the nature of gaming, which shifts from an experience based on play and entertainment, to one based around self-expression.

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