"The Sims" designer creating new game for real life

Mon Jan 2, 2012 12:28pm EST
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By John Gaudiosi

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Will Wright, the designer behind successful video game simulations including "SimCity", "The Sims" and "Spore", is at it again. Only this time, rather than controlling virtual people or creating space creatures, the protagonist of "HiveMind" is the actual player.

"HiveMind," a group of cross-platform, cross-media online applications, is designed to turn a gamer's everyday life into part of the interactive experience by building upon Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and tapping into streams of personal information on phones, tablets, social networks and computers.

While the technology and data collection is in place, the game doesn't yet have a release date. Nevertheless, Wright is enthusiastic about his new project and eager to discuss the lifestyle implications "HiveMind" could have on casual gamers.

Q: What did you learn from past games like "The Sims" and "Spore" that you applied to "HiveMind"?

A: "Those games were in some sense exploring the idea of becoming more personal and involving the player in a very creative role. In 'The Sims' people were crafting doppelgangers of their real life, their friends, their house, and then they experimented with things. 'Spore' was a more fantastical environment that offered higher-level creative tools. Both of those games showed me that when something is personal to a player, they're willing to invest in the experience. And the more emotionally attached they get, the more they want to share it with their friends and family."

Q: Where did the idea for "HiveMind" come from?

A: "I've had a couple of experiences where I realized that I'm surrounded by opportunities in life that I'm not aware of. Every now and then I trip over one of these experiences -- like a classic car show I happened upon in a Burbank Shoney's parking lot. I realized that we could build a system -- if we had a situational awareness about you, about who you are, where you are, what time of day it is, how much money is in your pocket, what's the weather like, what your interests are, etc. -- that could make your life much more interesting.

Q: How would a game experience work?   Continued...