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Will Wright, creator of The Sims, talks toys

October 5, 2009 |  5:00 pm
Will Wright
Will Wright, creator of The Sims. Credit: Stupid Fun Club.
Will Wright is still messing around. The 49-year-old creator of The Sims, Sim City and Spore quit Electronic Arts in April, but he continues to "build things that people would want to play with."

Wright is still cagey about what he has up his sleeve, but he's given us a few clues.

Hint #1: It's a toy. Wright will be taking his concept to the New York Toy Fair in February, where he will deliver a talk titled "The Evolution of Entertainment: A Toy's Place" at the Engage! Expo, a conference on the convergence of toys, the Internet, virtual worlds, games and social media.

Hint #2: It will involve games. How could it not? Wright's games have sold more than 100 million copies and generated more than $1 billion in sales for EA, which has invested in Wright's company, the strangely named Stupid Fun Club.

Hint #3: It will have robotic components. "To some degree," he qualifies. "All of our projects have crossover elements. Even calling it a toy makes it too specific." Wright's fascination with robots dates back to when he was a child building model tanks and attaching motors to them.

Hint #4: It will be connected to the Internet. Many toys have developed online components. Ganz's Webkinz, for example, is both an online virtual world and a line of plush toys. Hasbro has collaborated with Electronic Arts to create a virtual world based on the toy company's Littlest Pet Shop line of stuffed animals.

Hint #5: It will rely on crowdsourcing. No surprises there, since The Sims spawned hundreds of thousands of fan-created YouTube videos. Wright cites a toy called 20Q that asks players to think of an object, then proceeds to guess what that object is after asking 20 questions. The program that generates the answers came from a database of questions and answers generated by millions of visitors to a website of the same name.

Still don't get it? Neither do we. But we're still intrigued. Hopefully, Wright will have more to say at The Engage conference at Toy Fair.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.