The new big thing in Gaming is apparently “Spore“, a game in which the player gets to build a creature and lead it through its evolution until its development into an intelligent, social creature (and the game progresses into the space age at its advanced stages).
I can straightaway note an extremely large number of things I like about this game, even without having played it yet. The creatures look ultra-cute, the game design and concept is smart, the idea of evolutionary biology forming the focus of a major game is rather cool, no firearms OR hot cars are in attendance for once; also, from what I see of the creatures being designed by players, it looks as though people are relishing playing the monsters for once instead of hacking them to bits.
(I would like to say at this point that I’ve done my fair share of video-monster-termination, and many’s the time I have sent an alien robot flailing headfirst towards the ground in a manner calculated to cause maximum damage, pain, ill-will and bonus points.)
So, yes, I’m all for Spore.
Just a thing or two worry me….
The first thing is that the game is in the genre of “god games”; now I know I’m going to sound like a total lame-o here (even more so having used the term “lame-o” itself which is probably so grossly outdated I’ve lost any cred I may have had) but an evolution game which relies on deliberate design by the player…well, it might be sending the wrong message, you know?
I know all the answers; they’re good answers, too: “it’s a GAME, it’s supposed to be FUN TO PLAY, it’s not a science tutorial or true-to life simulation”
“If you want to try your hand at designing a real-life evolutionary game – go ahead, see how many people will queue up to buy it”
“Enough proper scientists have been involved in the development of the game, so whatever could’ve been done in that direction most likely was done. And anyway, anyone with half a brain can distinguish between the computer game and reality.”
And so on. I’m okay with that. I understand computer game developers have a lot of constraints on their hands with market forces and playability, and I’m not suggesting they’ve done anything wrong; I just wanted to point out that god bit.
My second problem with the game concerns racism, or rather sizism and speciesm. Why, may I ask, do microbes form only the first and lowest phase of the game? To “succeed” the player must “grow out”of the microbe phase and develop into a complex social creature. Well, I object!! A microbe already is a complex creature! (also a social one, while we’re on the subject) Why does “better” always have to be “bigger”? Such anthropocentric bigotry. Most species on earth, especially the most succesful ones (measured by numbers; always, always, measured by numbers) were microbes, are microbes and shall in all probability remain microbes and pretty damn good ones at that. Hmpf.
Say it loud – I’m small and proud.