William Ralph (“Will”) Wright is an American video game designer and co-founder of game development company Maxis (now part of Electronic Arts). He was born in Georgia in 1960 and later relocated to Louisiana. Growing up, Wright enjoyed building models and playing strategy games. Wright attended classes at Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, and The New School in Manhattan, studying a variety of topics that appealed to him: mechanical engineering, architecture, and robotics.
Wright acquired an interest in early computers and was influenced by Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set (1983)—software which allowed users to craft their own pinball playing field without any prior programming knowledge. He created a helicopter simulation game for his personal computer, and that game was then purchased and marketed by Brøderbund Software. Wright decided to produce a game in which players could build their own city, but the concept was met with lukewarm response; no company wanted to produce a video game without a winner. Instead, Wright teamed up with Jeff Braun in 1986 to found Maxis, their own game development company. SimCity debuted in 1989 and was an immediate success. In 2009, Wright left Maxis for creative think tank The Stupid Fun Club.
The Sims game series, comprising SimCity and its various spin-offs, is one of the best-selling personal-computer game series of all time. Wright’s work on simulation games has made a considerable impact on the electronic gaming industry. He has received numerous awards and accolades, including lifetime achievement awards from PC Magazine and the Game Developers Choice Awards, along with induction into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame. As of 2013, Wright and his think tank colleagues are working for Syntertainment, a startup company focusing on high-quality mobile games.