Game development legend Will Wright has created some of the most successful franchises on the planet. Games like SimCity, SimAnt and The Sims franchise have produced billions of dollars in revenue. There probably isn’t a person on the planet who hasn’t played or at least heard of a game that Wright has been behind. What people don’t immediately think of when they think Will Wright, is Spore – can’t imagine why.
Wright has been busy setting up new think tank companies (the Stupid Fun Club) and toying with TV show ideas. On top of all of that, however, he’s been thinking about his new game idea. It’s called HiveMind and it sounds like the musings of a mad scientist.
Falling into a genre that’s been dubbed “personal gaming”, HiveMind aims to put players at the centre of the experience. Ordinarily people adjust their daily activities around gaming, but HiveMind adjusts the game around you instead.
Wright is not keen to elaborate too much on his new game, but it sounds as if it borrows elements from social games and augmented reality apps like Foursquare. In an exclusive interview with website VentureBeat, Wright gave a little bit of insight into what direction he’s headed.
“Rather than craft a game like FarmVille for players to learn and play, we learn about you and your routines and incorporate that into a form of game play… How can we make a system that understands enough about you and gives you situational awareness? It could take into account what time of day it is, where you are, how much money is in your pocket. Imagine if you could open Google Maps and it shows you things that are interesting to you on the map.”
HiveMind will rely on data mining information about the player. While that might immediately set off privacy alarm bells in many, Wright believes that the younger generations are more than willing to divulge personal information about themselves, if it leads to some form of entertainment. The premise is about finding out what you enjoy, and then directing you to real-world events and locations that tie into the information you’ve provided. This will all undergo “gamification” so that HiveMind plays like a game with underlying social elements and lifestyle applications. “With that data, the world and the opportunities for entertainment within it become more visible to you,” is the way Wright explains it.
Linking with your friends and using their knowledge to solve in-game and real world problems will also play a role. Your HiveMind friends might be able to assist you in getting real world tasks accomplished, which would then translate into in-game benefits.
It all sounds like a mash-up of FarmVille, Foursqaure and Fitocracy mixed with a healthy dose of Big Brother. It’s almost as if Wrights gone full-circle: The Sims allowed us to control virtual people, and now HiveMind is going to control us as real people. I think I might be afraid.