Advertising plunders The Sims

For years, video-game designers have been the world’s masters of interface design. After all, games are pretty information-heavy. When you’re running around in Counterstrike or Everquest, you’re trying to keep track of your weapons inventory, your place on the map, your comrades, and the action happening right in front of you. Game-makers are so good at presenting information they’re practically Edward-Tufte-class.

But one of the best ever is undoubtedly Will Wright. When you build a ‘burb in SimCity or a house in The Sims, the interface is a masterpiece of elegance and intuitiveness: Each quadrant of design clicks neatly into the next, like lego bricks of reality.

It’s so good, in fact, that companies are actually plundering Wright’s style in advertisements. Check out this TV ad by energy company Areva: There’s a still image above, but if you go to the site and click on “The Ad Campaign,” you can view the entire TV commercial. It looks almost precisely like the interface for a Sim game, right down to the tiny dancing people.

NOTE: Check out the discussion of this item — folks have posted several links to very cool other examples of this genre, including music videos done with this visual style!

(Thanks to Michael for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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