Yesterday saw Will Wright give a keynote ostensibly called 'The Future of Game Design'. The creator of the Sims took the opportunity to address two of the topics that went heavily into the background work on his current title: Spore. Mr Wright was attempting to make the point that lots of research in the pre-production phase of the project is one of the best ways of knowing what it is you're setting out to do. Folks at Kotaku, The Game Chair, and Game Girl Advance have some notes from the talk. Read on for my own brief impressions from the event.The key idea I took away from the event is the level of intelligence Wright possesses. I always knew he was *smart*, but the man went almost a full hour, racing from topic to topic, at a speed that was almost breathtaking to behold. I initially started taking notes but the man just moves so dang fast, I eventually gave up and enjoyed the experience. He went from the Fermi Paradox, to Drake's Equation, to Panspermia to the Rare Earth theory in a series of four slides, only pausing very briefly to explain what he was talking about. Rather than confusing the audience, lots of the elements he brought up were totally understandable just within the context of his talk. He really hit his stride after the thirty minute mark, and actually managed to talk even faster than he'd started off. It was sort of like watching a manic college prof teach an entire semester-long class in an hour.
He did talk about Spore a good deal in there, detailing how all of the Astrobiology and research were distilled down into usable ideas for game environments and creatures. This was a talk, though, less about games and more about the joy of learning. Will Wright's gift as a speaker is to make his audience excited about something they may never have considered before, simply by the sheer amount of enthusiasm he exudes. I heard some shifting in chairs towards the end of the talk, but despite the highly technical nature of the presentation the Civic Auditorium was still packed when the event ended. Like the Battlestar event, Wright's talk only peripherally talked about games, but it managed to be all the more valuable (I think) to the audience as a result.