Creator of computer simulation games—SimCity, The Sims, & Spore
Will Wright experienced the joy of discovery as a child in Montessori elementary school. He appreciates the way Montessori teaching methods and materials are designed to help children “understand deep principles of life and nature through play.”
Young learners “can become interested in pretty complex theories, like Pythagorean theory, say, by playing with blocks. It’s all about learning on your terms, rather than having a teacher explain stuff to you. And when kids discover these things on their own, what they learn sticks with them so much more.”
Years later, Maria Montessori’s methods inspired Will to invent an entirely new video game genre—non-violent, open-ended games in which players use sophisticated computer simulation tools. He prefers to call his games “toys” because they let individuals design and control their own creations. “I want my toys to let kids explore and discover their own principles.”
SimCity players envision and build cities from the ground up. With The Sims, they create inhabitants for the buildings. Spore is a “universe in a box” that invites players to create a species, guide its evolution, and then send it out to explore a cosmos of worlds created by other players.
“Computer simulations can recalibrate your instincts, sort of like a telescope recalibrates your eyesight. What happens if you give kids a toy planet to evolve? What might they discover? What might they learn?”
Photo: Courtesy Will Wright