Art and Entertainment

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Spore, Electronic Arts

Evolution-Based Video Game, ‘Spore,’ Holds Key to Maker’s Survival

September 08, 2008 04:53 PM
by Rachel Balik
Electronic Arts has put more than $50 million into the anxiously awaited “Spore,” a video game it hopes will reverse the company’s losses.

'Spore' Set to Spawn Great Sales

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Electronic Arts, a video game company, hopes that "Spore," a new video game that allows users to control their characters’ evolutionary fate, will also help the company move up the food chain. In "Spore," players use the previously released "Creature Creator" to design a character, and then move the creature through several phases of evolution and civilization. Designed by Will Wright, "Spore" is a far more scientifically and technological advanced game than Wright’s previous gems, “The Sims” and “Sim City,” and new EA CEO John Riccitiello hopes this will be the game that puts EA back on the market map. Given the great anticipation surrounding the game, as well as largely impressive reviews, he has reason to hope for the best.

The game has also been tested, and approved, by legitimate scientists. The New York Times observed some Yale University evolutionary biologists who tried their hands at the game. Department head Richard Prum observed that in terms of accurately portraying the path of evolution, “The mechanism is severely messed up,” but both he and colleague Thomas Near believe that the game will at least inspire some to think about evolution and how it works.

Background: Virtual gods

So-called “God games,” games in which players are given real power to determine the fates of characters, originated in the 1980s. Will Wright was the first to take the principle behind God games and apply it to games that mimicked real life. His first serious achievement, “The Sims,” completely revolutionized the game world, and in 2006, it was speculated that "Spore" might be able to play a similarly transcendent role. Although the technology for "Spore" is not as flashy as it is for some other popular games, Wright is banking on the notion that what game users really want is what he refers to as “possibility space.” He supplied the New Yorker with an interview as well as a demonstration of his magnum opus to date. At the time, Wright’s unparalleled enthusiasm for the new project was juxtaposed with anxiety about profit and company development at EA.

Opinion and Analysis: Reviews of Spore

Gamespot alerts those who have been anticipating the game's release that the game offers a lot more than its predecessor, "Creature Creator." With Spore, you’ll have more options for your creatures, as well as the chance to truly watch a civilization develop. Essentially, "Spore" combines numerous elements from different video games to make one supergame: “By themselves, these elements aren’t very remarkable; but within the context of a single, sprawling journey, they complement each other nicely and deliver a myriad of delights.”

But while IGN agrees that “Spore is essentially five distinct games woven together,” it argues that “a number of these games come off as lightweight or limited.” Despite that initial jab, the reviewer, Jason Ocampo, has plenty of positive things to say about "Spore" as he reviews each phase of the game. Ocampo was impressed by the game's ability to teach science, and be more of a game and less of a toy than previous products like SimCity. He also praised the game’s graphics and attention to detail, and ultimately concluded that its quality as a whole was able to overcome smaller failings.

Reference: More about 'Spore'

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