The New Game of Life

Fancy joining in a consensual hallucination? Will Wright, creator of the Sims, joins the jostling for supremacy by the different tech and media sectors, their battle for the living room and every other space in which media consumers, producers, participants may soon find themselves. He argues that games have the potential for subsuming almost all other forms of entertainment media. Personalized computer games will eventually recreate the world in our image, in our various images:

They will learn what we like to do, what we’re good at, what interests and challenges us. They will observe us. They will record the decisions we make, consider how we solve problems, and evaluate how skilled we are in various circumstances.

Over time, these games will become able to modify themselves to better “fit” each individual. They will adjust their difficulty on the fly, bring in new content, and create story lines. Much of this original material will be created by other players, and the system will move it to those it determines will enjoy it most…

They will allow us to express ourselves, meet others, and create things that we can only dimly imagine. They will enable us to share and combine these creations, to build vast playgrounds. And more than ever, games will be a visible, external amplification of the human imagination.

Will Wright, Wired Magazine

As a narrative of what lies beyond the current technical horizon, this isn’t bad. A coda to the geek’s Web 2.0.

At the moment, operating systems like Microsoft’s Vista provide the physical space for storing our files. As our files migrate online, search engines like Google and those web services which allow us to group and define files become more important. Online environments like MySpace, Flickr and del.icio.us, then, are early versions of the kind of “games” described by Wright, places, as he puts it, for creation rather than just consumption.