Career Advice from Will Wright, Creator of Spore, SimCity and The Sims.

Game designer Will Wright founded his own company, Maxis, in 1989 and has since created some of the best-known simulation games in existence, including the 2008 blockbuster Spore. Maxis is now part of Electronics Arts, the world’s largest video game company.

1. If someone wanted to land a job at your company today, how would you recommend they do it?


The strongest thing they can come into the door with is a portfolio. Being able to look at an example of their work–it can be something as simple as a flash game–is enough. For a producer, it’s going to be more about past experience, and their ability to manage complexity. For people trying to break into the industry, the best way to learn is to do it. And you don’t have to work for a big company to do it.

There are a few good programs out there at the university level. CMU, USC, and Georgia Tech have strong interactive design programs.

2. What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given, and who gave it?

That was probably Gary Carlston, one of the founders of Brøderbund Software, my first publisher when I was starting out. He said that when you’re successful, everyone is going to equate being successful with being smart. And everyone is going to come asking you for advice because they think you’re smart. And that’s fine, as long as they think it and you don’t. As long as you don’t buy into that, you’re fine. That advice has served me well over the years.

3. If you were job-hunting in this economy, where would you look?

This is probably an excellent time for doing a start-up if you don’t need funding. It depends on what your means are. A lot of people are going to try and stay in their jobs because of the economic uncertainty. On the other hand, this is an excellent time to go off for a year and start on your own company if you can afford it, and position yourself for a couple of years down the road when you’ll be in a position to sell.


About the author

I'm the executive editor of Fast Company and Co.Design.