All the world's a game...

...And the men and women merely players?Probably not quite what William Shakespeare had in mind, but it's what another William is perhaps envisioning.

...And the men and women merely players?

Probably not quite what William Shakespeare had in mind, but it's what another William is perhaps envisioning.

William Wright--or Will Wright, as he's better known--may not write plays like Shakespeare did, but he's an accomplished writer of another art form and hopes works like his can influence societies in the way books do.

Wright is a games developer, and the brainchild behind famed PC game franchise The Sims.

In Singapore this week to evangelize the upcoming Electronic Arts' simulation game Spore, I met up with the 48-year-old American during his visit here for a quick 15-minute interview--it was all the time he had to spare.

But, it was sufficient--especially for a guy who speaks at a rate of 200 words a minute, or so it seems--for us to discuss a wide range of topics, including why he thinks the core philosophy behind Japanese martial art, aikido, should be applied to games design.

Wright believes games have a "social responsibility" to encourage discussions that people wouldn't otherwise be part of.

He regards games the same way good books or movies are commonly perceived, as catalysts of healthy debates about important life issues like religion and philosophy. Through his works, it is clear that the self-professed atheist does indeed subscribe to this belief.

Spore, for instance, is the result of melding various subject matters including astronomy, geology, chemistry, physics, as well as religion, which features strongly in the game as characters can eventually develop religion in their civilizations.

Because of its religious undertones, Spore has ignited a fair share of controversy and provoked some atheists upset about the inclusion of religion in the game.

Despite the criticisms, Wright says controversies around games aren't always bad if they can spark discussions about important societal issues.

It's an interesting spin on the role of PC games in human life.

Before my chat with Wright, computer games to me were mostly recreational and something I thought about only in my spare time. And while I would discuss some game titles with my friends, such conversations were typically about how "fun"--or not--the games were, and hardly ever about what they personified in real life.

On hindsight, Wright is absolutely right.

Books, movies and even music, today already influence our perspective on life and inspire us to contemplate issues that matter. Why should games, which carry their own storylines and characters like they do in most books, movies and songs, be any different?