Sims Creator on the Social Aspects of Computers

In Dream Machines, Wired guest editor and gamer extraordinaire Wil Wright, whose Sims games have become the most popular video games ever, ruminates on how computers were originally thought of as enhancing our nerdier side:

“Most technologies can be seen as an enhancement of some part of our bodies (cars/legs, house/skin, TV/senses). From the start, computers have been understood as an extension of the human brain; the first computers were referred to as mechanical brains and analytical engines. We saw their primary value as number crunchers that far exceeded our own meager abilities.”

To this day, we still hear computers talked about in this sense. When Apple recently announced their new Mac Pro line of computers, for example, they touted it as the “fastest Mac ever”, how it can do so much more in so much less time

In Dream Machines, Wired guest editor and gamer extraordinaire Wil Wright, whose Sims games have become the most popular video games ever, ruminates on how computers were originally thought of as enhancing our nerdier side:

“Most technologies can be seen as an enhancement of some part of our bodies (cars/legs, house/skin, TV/senses). From the start, computers have been understood as an extension of the human brain; the first computers were referred to as mechanical brains and analytical engines. We saw their primary value as number crunchers that far exceeded our own meager abilities.”

To this day, we still hear computers talked about in this sense. When Apple recently announced their new Mac Pro line of computers, for example, they touted it as the “fastest Mac ever”, how it can do so much more in so much less time.

But outside of video rendering and other heavy-duty applications, efficiency in calculations isn’t really the value most of us are searching for. No, most of us want efficiency in our normal lives, our relationships, our friendships, our social lives. Wright says:

“But the Internet has morphed what we used to think of as a fancy calculator into a fancy telephone with email, chat rooms, IM, and blogs. It turns out that we don’t use computers to enhance our math skills – we use them to enhance our people skills.

Wright sees computers as simply an extension of ourselves. We are social beings, and thus our use of computers will be social as well. And as I mentioned last week, Apple also has this angle covered.

Published: August 28th, 2006

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