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Will Wright

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Mental Models and Game Play
Will Wright
Chief Designer
Maxis, Inc.

Computer games involve a number of unique and interesting design issues which can be applied to other areas of computing. Rather than designing elaborate solutions to the user's problems we end up designing elaborate problems for the user to solve. How the user models the problem in their head and the constraints we put on the user will to a large degree determine how "compelling" the resulting interaction will be. Evolution seems to have provided us with a deep satisfaction payback for using and refining our problem-solving skills. This payback can be used to motivate as well as entertain.


Will Wright, Maxis’s Chief Designer, co-founded Maxis with Jeff Braun in 1987. Wright Began working on what would become SimCity-The City Simulator in 1985. SimCity was released in 1989, and within a few months became a hit. The game has since won 24 domestic and international awards. With Fred Haslem, Wright co-designed SimEarth-The Living Planet in 1990, a simulation of a planet based on the Gaia theory of James Lovelock. In 1991, Wright and Justin McCormick designed SimAnt--The Electronic Ant Colony, a scientifically-accurate simulation of an ant colony. SimCity 20000 and SimCopter, a helicopter flight game, are Wright’s most recent releases. Wright has had a lifelong fascination with simulations. His interest in plastic models of ships and airplanes during his childhood in Georgia eventually led to his designing of computer models of cities, ecosystems and ant colonies.

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User System Ergonomics Research (USER)
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