Interfacing to Microworlds
Will Wright, Maxis
Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 26, 1996
Simulations of real world systems present the designer with a unique set of challenges. In entertainment products we strive to maintain the "illusion" of reality so as to nurture the meglomania in our players (the Calvin syndrome). In educational uses, however, we want to let our players "open the hood" of the model to view and perhaps change the underlying assumptions. These two approaches frequently conflict in the design of edutainment (yes, I hate that word too) programs. I will try to at least touch on the following topics:
- the intent of the program.
- maintaining the illusion.
- promoting empathy.
- granularity of interaction.
- time control.
- the use of sound.
- what's under the hood.
- collapsing and filtering of data.
When I was a kid I spent most of my free time building and playing with models. Now I get paid for it. I started designing game software around 1982 after building homebrew robots for several years. In 1987 Jeff Braun and I founded Maxis Software and released SimCity (which I started designing in 1985) two years later. Since then I have designed several other "Sim" games including SimEarth, SimAnt and SimCity2000
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