I’ve always admired Wright as one of the great game designers of all time simply because it’s obvious to anyone who has played his games that he has invested a great deal of thought and emotion into the games he develops. From the article on his newest baby that’s about to debut next month, it’s clear that Wright has spent a lot of time not only thinking about what it would take to turn one of the best selling video games of all time into the next big multiplayer game, but also what impact it may have on the people who play it. Massively multiplayer games have a way of sucking some people in so far that they spend 22 hours or more a week playing them. Relationships have been destroyed, marriages ruined, jobs lost, and college classes failed because some poor schlep just had to camp that 13 hour spawn in EverQuest in hopes that this time he might be lucky enough to get that once-every-20th-spawn Mega-Death-Damage-Sword-Of-Total-Awesome-Power. By the same token, real-life marriages and friendships have been forged that rival anything that could have developed off-line. I know that I felt a real sense of loss when a friend I had made while playing Dark Age of Camelot recently passed away. I’d never met her, barely knew her real name, but the sense of loss was real for me and many others who knew her through the game.
Wright has actually spent a lot of time considering issues like that as TSO has been progressing through it’s development. It’s clear that he’s worried about it and feels somewhat responsible for what he’s about to unleash on the market. Consider that if The Sims Online attracts just 10% of folks who bought and play The Sims it would become the #1 most popular massively multiplayer game eclipsing the number of current EQ players by more than double and EQ has been around for a few years now. The fact that Wright is cognizant of these facts and has concerns about them only solidifies my admiration of him as one of the greatest developers ever. Go read the Gamespot article. It’s very worthwhile.