Is Will Wright's new game, Spore, about evolution or intelligent design?

The art of play.
Sept. 11 2008 5:36 PM

Spore's Intelligent Designer

Will Wright's new hit game is all about evolution. Or is it?

(Continued from Page 2)

Once the evolution stages end, Spore morphs into a traditional and less-innovative strategy game. You form a tribe, then evolve into a civilization with a military, economic, or religious culture. I managed to go religious by doing exactly what the religious nuts in America do not: eating lots of veggies and playing nice with my neighbors. When I eventually founded a city, I flooded the planet with religious propaganda to forcibly convert the unwashed heathens beyond my walls. This element of the game has angered atheists. I can't imagine that it's going to make evangelicals too happy, either.

So it goes with Wright. He admits Spore is a game that deals with intelligent design. He acknowledges the religious component. But he takes pains to point out that it's a caricature of reality, like all his games. The final stage of Spore has you scooting around in a spaceship, exploring a universe populated with user-created content. That's maybe not so realistic, but it is enjoyable. It's important to remember that building a game based strictly on evolutionary principles would be a disaster. How would you play it? Perhaps you'd just end up watching a lab computer churning data.

Advertisement

What people see as agendas in Spore and The Sims and SimCity may merely be artifacts of what's required to turn a simulation into a game. An early prototype of Spore included mutations, but Wright said it wasn't engaging—users needed to make those tweaks. "When we put the players in the role of intelligent designer then people were much more emotionally attached to what they made," he says.

Ultimately, games are made to engage the people who play them. Provoking wonderment or debate is a good thing. Wright abstracts grandiose topics, and he does it well. Not enough game designers have the stones or the vision to try the same, which is why we get battered with endless versions of Madden NFL (also put out by Electronic Arts). In the end, that's also why Spore leaves such an impression. It's more than just fun. It's worth arguing about.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 15 2014 3:44 PM Home Work Prudie advises a man who wants to be a stay-at-home dad, but his wife refuses.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.