This article was published 13 years ago
Siggraph 2009

Siggraph: Will Wright keynote

Will Wright opening keynote Siggraph New Orleans conference
SimCity and The Sims creator Will Wright gives the opening keynote at Siggraph New Orleans conference – Image credit: Gregory Schultz / OpenBayou
New Orleans, La.

Will Wright, creator of the popular video games Sim City, The Sims and Spore and a Baton Rouge native, gave the keynote address to an ecstatic crowd in New Orleans yesterday afternoon.  The hour-and-a-half long speech was unique as he did not going into the science behind animation and video games.  Instead, Wright used his keynote to address the future of video gaming as well as animation in general.

Those who have played his games know there’s a lot of quirkiness to them, like defending your city against an alien attack in Sim City or having a robot maid in The Sims.  And just like his games, Wright brought his quirkiness to the podium – by opening his keynote talking about his cat, Aragon.

He found a pattern that the top cats had an on-going theme – small, in a pouch position or could fit inside a shoe.  The cutter the cat, the higher your score was.

Yep, it was that kind of a keynote.

Even with the tips on how to manipulate kittenwars, Wright did touch on the video game industry as well, mainly because he used to be a game developer.  Since the animation industry has moved from Pong to Wii Tennis, video games are being blended with music and television.

As the graphics in games moved from one dimension to real-life three dimension, Wright pointed out that consumers don’t care how their content is created or how to view it.

He pointed out that the screen of an iPhone is a tiny spec when compared to an Imax screen.  Consumers don’t care that the Imax screen is 100,000 times bigger than the iPhone, the device has a nice screen and it works.  Which is why the iPhone is becoming the most popular smartphone.

Wright also injected himself in a brewing battle between animators and studio executives on 3D movies.  While watching an advance screening of a 3D animated movie, he felt more connected to the short clip before the 3D movie.  While it wasn’t a total slam to 3D movies, he did feel that some movies should be in 3D because they give the audience the feeling like your actually there, like the Jonas Brothers’ 3D concert movie.

Wright also touched on the future of video gaming and animation.  He’s skeptical that virtual reality displays, where gamers wear special glass, will catch on.  Wright stated that the iPhone and other smartphone devices can do the same thing as heads-up display units, like the one seen in the Terminator movies.

Wright was fascinated by niche-communities that are forming around television shows and video games.  He was particularly interested in community that look for hidden clues to the popular TV-series Lost.  He was also astounded by the popularity of the Spore creator creator, which had 1 million creators created in the week following the release.  Notably absent was how many titles the game sold for and how people were upset on the DRM-restrictions the game put on their computers.