Will Wright and Sid Meier Named In GameSpy's 30 Most Influential People in Gaming

Wednesday, March 27, 2002 - 22:00

Meier's accomplishments are simply some of the greatest games ever coded

Wright made gaming history when he started to think of video games as "toys" rather than "win-or-lose" affairs

Go To

Will Wright


Will Wright

    Why is Will Wright Influential?
  • Created SimCity
  • Created The Sims
  • Pioneered "system sims"

We're not sure if it was some kind of forward-thinking vision -- or if it was simply divine inspiration -- but Will Wright made gaming history when he started to think of video games as "toys" rather than "win-or-lose" affairs. Take his 1989 opus SimCity for example (read our Hall of Fame entry). While other game developers were concentrating on jumping puzzles or exploding spaceships, he was building what he called a "system simulator." SimCity was a tiny digital city, the development of which was completely under your control. Sure, there were goal-based scenarios, but most people simply played the game in free-build mode. Did you want a spacious suburban paradise? A glistening commercial empire? A disgusting densely-trafficed nightmare of urban decay? It didn't matter, it was up to you.

SimCity was a success because it had a broad appeal (everyone knows what a city is), was easy to play, and almost never punished the player for his or her decisions. This formula is really a hallmark of one of the greatest game designers of our time, one repeated again and again in his later "Sim-" games. SimCity alone would rank Wright high on our list of achievers, but the fact is, he's always thinking up the next big toy. His most recent game, The Sims, is also a system simulator, but on a household scale. Does the magic still work? Of course! The Sims is probably the most lucrative product in PC gaming right now and shows no sign of slowing. It's fun for casual or hardcore gamers alike.

Next on his plate? A massively multiplayer version of The Sims that will give millions of casual gamers a reason to upgrade their Internet connection. Wright's straightforward themes and easy-to-understand gameplay are a model that we're sure to see in coming years.

What the Gaming Industry says:

Bill Jackson, Ensemble Studios: "I think that Will defines the term 'Thinking outside the box.' His toys have collectively eaten up more of my time than even my six-million dollar man action figures."

Raymond Padilla, Freelance Gaming Journalist: "He is somehow able to reach the hard-core gamer as well as the mass market. Nobody has been as successful in doing so on the PC side."

Rantz Hoseley, Quicksilver Software: "Forget the Sims, Sim City turned a geek hobby into a mainstream pastime. I remember working at a daily newspaper and coming in to find four or five editors playing the original SimCity, totally addicted, and missing deadlines because of it. Always the sign of a good game."


Sid Meier

Firaxis Games

Sid Meier

    Why is Sid Meier Influential?
  • Created Civilization series
  • Co-founded Microprose and Firaxis
  • Leader in the strategy game genre

It's fitting that Sid Meier is ranked just out of the top spot on this list, because Meier seems to be everyone's second-favorite game designer. Sure, there's a legion of 3D engine designers on this list, each of them a Hall of Famer. But there's Meier again, as expected, with his name attached to yet another top-quality, addictive game. Just like he's been doing since the early 80s. Meier is the Nolan Ryan of game designers.

Meier's accomplishments are simply some of the greatest games ever coded -- the Civilization series, Gettysburg -- it's even arguable that Meier's Railroad Tycoon in 1990 is the true father of real-time strategy games. Besides his influential game designs, Meier has also led the way in the business world, being the co-founder of MicroProse and Firaxis Games, two of the top game development companies in the world.

Meier's latest game, SimGolf, is already showing the same signs that have been the hallmark of his previous work -- a unique premise, multiple layers of strategy, addictive gameplay and truckloads of fun.

So, what's the secret to creating consistently great games for nearly 20 years?

"I think a lot of what makes me kind of able to keep doing games is the fact that I was there at the beginning and that I don't have to play catch-up all the time," Meier said in an interview a few years back. "It's kind of like I've been there since the start, so I've seen the evolution and have a bit of a sense of history and perspective."

What the Gaming Industry says:

Tim Cain, Troika: "I have enjoyed his games for decades, and what better praise than that? I fondly remember Hellcat Ace on my first computer, an Atari 800. And my first computer game addiction was Civilization. I still hum the new technology tune whenever I have an idea."

Michael Hershberg, Quicksilver Software: "The first PC game I remember getting addicted to (and I mean stay-up-till-4-homework-comes-second kind of addiction) was the original Civilization. Now I have the pleasure of shunning my friends in favor of Civilization III. If Sid deserves anything it might be a spot on the Top 50 People To Blame For Dwindling Social Life."

Rich Carlson, Digital Eel: " 'Sid games' have everything. Strategy; historicity; depth; diplomacy; conflict; tactics; and the beat goes on. The C64 version of Pirates! blew me away. How could they fit so much in there!? When friends introduced me to Civilization and Colonization years later, I realized that Sid Meier was a designer of formidable skill."

Kevin Dill, Quicksilver Software: "In his early days, Sid brought more innovation and insight to this industry than any other designer ever. He inspired my own desire to enter the field, and in my opinion is by far the greatest designer ever. Compared to him, all others can only be described as good - Sid alone was great."

Mastodon - Mastodon