One of the most influential things I did as a child was spending time on my aunt’s Mac when I’d visit in the summers. That little LC series machine in the early 90s was my window to a lot of things that would later become a huge part of my adult life (including my current career). But one thing that stands out as particularly memorable was a packet of 3.5″ disks that contained a game that would shape my entire worldview. Yes, I’m talking about SimCity, the little black & white game that infected my brain starting around the age of seven – and hasn’t stopped.
Doug Bierend sat down with SimCity’s creator, the venerable Will Wright, over at the re:form collection on Medium to discuss his games and their enduring legacy on the 25th anniversary of the Sim game that started everything. I’ve pulled a few quotes that do a really good job summing up my love for the Sim games, but the entire piece “SimCity That I Used to Know” is well worth the read.
Wright’s games—if you can call them that—were uniquely influential for a generation of kids with access to computers in the 90s. [...] An imaginative player could weave their own stories [...]
These toys were especially effective for kids who were at an age when the real and the imaginary seem less distinct. Watching as the little cities exhibited behavior in reaction to the player’s actions created a link between us [and] the game.
“I think that play, in a more general sense, is fundamentally one of the ways that we understand the world, the real world,” says Wright, “as is storytelling. I think the two are both kind of educational technologies, and that’s the part that interests me [...]”
“Players right off the bat were forced to sit down and in fact pick their goals,” Wright says. [...] “At that point, they’re also having to clarify their internal model of the way a city operates…all of a sudden your assumptions become clear to you.”
I certainly emerged from my hunched sessions with my pet cities carrying a new appreciation for the world around me.