Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spore Sports Intelligent Designer

We understand that the gaming world, which is apparently still connected somehow to the real world, is agog over the latest game from the creator of Sim City, the Sims, and other simulation games. Spore, we are told, allows the player to direct the evolution of a virtual creature from single-cell organism to something considerably more complex--an intelligent, self-conscious, social being who builds a civilization and perhaps even takes on space travel.

Of course, the very existence of the game demands design at two levels: the game itself is designed, and it calls on the player to make choices about the design of the creature.

Game designer Will Wright describes matters this way to USA Today:

I think the game is really trying to give an overview of evolution in a way that is very toy-like and caricature-like. We put the player in the role of an intelligent designer. When we first started the prototypes (of Spore) that wasn't the case. We had the game carefully mutating things and it just was not emotionally engaging. When we put the players in the role of intelligent designer then people were much more emotionally attached to what they made.

But if you step back from it, you see creatures over many generations get more advanced. All this happens over billions of years. So, however you slice it, is definitely not a creationist universe. You might say it has aspects of intelligent design.

Computer games are not, of course, exactly analogous to the real world. But we think that Spore reflects that all possible worlds, even virtual ones, demand a designer's direction for their existence, let alone their orderliness.

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