On Monday G4’s daily video game program X-Play unveiled The Will Wright Minute, a segment that is literally 60 seconds of the legendary designer talking about whatever he wants. Wright took the opportunity to talk about a once top secret weaponized space station run by Cold War Russia. He never once mentioned Spore.
By Tuesday, the video (which runs 90 seconds after the addition of G4, X-Play and Spore promotional bumpers) had gained significant traction on the web. Wade Beckett, executive producer on X-Play, explained that the concept for the Will Wright Minute came to him while he was watching Wright speak at the San Diego Comic Con.
“The man is pretty much a genius but that doesn’t always translate to good TV,” said Beckett. “The key to Will is he’s both smart and entertaining.
“After he completed his Spore demo in San Diego he looked at his watch and said something like ‘I have about 7 minutes left—I’d like to give you a choice. Would you like some Q & A time with me or would you like a Russian space minute?’ The audience was totally engaged as he walked us through one of his otaku obsessions and the whole time we were in stitches. I leaned over to Adam [Sessler, X-Play co-host and managing editor] and said,” I’m going to see if Will wants to come on X-Play once a week next month and talk about whatever he feels like.”
After getting EA on board with the concept, Beckett and the X-Play crew sent Wright a director/producer and filmed “over a dozen different possibilities” for Will Wright Minutes. According to Beckett, topics on the table that will be forthcoming in future segments include “Batman, Care Bears Mythology, The Beverly Hillbillies, Breakfast in Russia, and the Selfish Gene.”
As a show about gaming and gaming culture, the goals X-Play had with the segment were simple: “X-Play loves videogames but we also strive to broaden gamers horizons by throwing in plenty of other references from our favorite things—pop culture, literature, film, sports,” explains Beckett. “The goal for X-Play is to give gamers a glimpse of true gaming greatness each week with Will on the show.”
But what about EA? After all, the risky, Wright-helmed Spore isn’t present in The Will Wright Minute at all, appearing only in a post-video bumper. Beckett thinks that might be enough for EA, saying “I think there’s a good possibility of new, younger gamers being really intrigued and excited to check out Spore after watching Will on the show.” He added, “EA was really great to work with and game for letting Will be Will.”
Beckett also acknowledged the now-realized potential for the segment to go viral on the internet. “We knew it was going to work well both on TV and online,” he admitted. “People want to watch short, funny videos online and this really is a home run for gamers.”
The first Will Wright Minute is available at G4’s website. New segments in the series will air on X-Play every Monday at 8PM, with possible bonus minutes airing over the next few Wednesdays. The Will Wright Minute will also be made available on a variety of internet video sources including Xbox LIVE.