How Fighting Robots Helped Wright Quit EA

Illustration for article titled How Fighting Robots Helped Wright Quit EA

Will Wright may be leaving Maxis and Electronic Arts, but that doesn't mean he's leaving gaming. In fact some of his biggest ideas are for future games, he told us today.

When asked if he felt like he was leaving his gaming fanbase behind, he said no.

"That's definitely not the case, some of the coolest things I'm thinking of working on are new games," he said.


And those games won't be a total departure from Wright's history of making open-ended simulators. There will be "an almost unbroken lineage" between what he has done in the past and where he hopes to take gaming with Stupid Fun Club, he says.

Earlier today, Wright announced that he would be departing Maxis and Electronic Arts to spend all of his time working at an entertainment think tank developing new intellectual properties for all forms of entertainment from toys to television.

Stupid Fun Club, which was initially started in 2001 as an offshoot of his work building robots for Robot Wars, was dramatically restructured recently in time for the deal he signed with EA on Monday, he said.


"It started out in Berkeley, " he said. "We were all doing Robot Wars together. We started building strange robots and then started doing these fun social experiments where we would have them encounter people and film it to study peoples' reactions."

That led to a lot of ideas, Wright said and people started stopping by to see if they could invest in the company. But Wright said he was reluctant to go down the path of an IPO or start up again, like he did with Maxis.


They started showing some of the ideas to Electronic Arts and the publisher got interested. "They were the perfect VC for us," Wright said.

The relationship Stupid Fun Club will have with EA will, in some ways, be a broad version of the one Steven Spielberg has with the company, Wright said.


Wright says he was fascinated with the concept of the film maker working as an entertainment designer in a field he was unaccustomed to. And Boom Blox, he says, was a interesting product of that effort.

"Boom Blox was remarkable because it was not the game I was expecting from Steven Spielberg, but it was a blast to play," he said. "There were no cinematic, no story, no anything. You could just pick it up and play it.


"He clearly understood games at a level I didn't expect him to."

Wright has been working for some time now trying to grow his understanding of other elements of entertainment as well.


"I've been kind of talking to people about TV shows and movies for awhile now," he said, declining to say which games they would be based on.

When will we hear from Wright and his company again? Perhaps at this year's E3? The designer said he wasn't sure quite yet.


"Give me a few months and I'm sure you'll hear something."

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If he's into robots, why doesn't he make a robot simulator? I mean, there are games that have the robot wars theme, but I'm sure none of them have realistic physics simulated. Imagine if you could build your bot just like you would in real life, and have all of the same controls and consequences as well.