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Spore: Assessment of the Science in an Evolution-Oriented Game

  • John Bohannon
  • T. Ryan Gregory
  • Niles Eldredge
  • William Sims Bainbridge
Chapter
Part of the Human-Computer Interaction Series book series (HCIS)

Abstract

Spore was introduced in late 2008 with a tremendous amount of publicity, including a National Geographic television documentary, asserting it was revolutionary in two ways: First, its makers consistently implied that it realistically depicted the biological and cultural evolution of species from the cellular stage, through the development of intelligence, tribes, civilization, and even space travel. Second, it combined aspects of solo-play avatar-experienced world, multicharacter but solo-player strategy game, and asynchronous Internet sharing of characters that differs from the typical synchronous online environment. Thus, it claimed to be a valid simulation of the real world, and at the same time, it expanded the definition of an online virtual world.

The chief designer, Will Wright, has a long and influential history as an innovator with a unique perspective on what constitutes a virtual world. SimCity, Wright’s urban planning and city-building game dating from 1989, launched the Maxis company that most recently produced Spore. Early Will Wright games sought to establish connections to science and scholarship, notably through bibliographies included in the instruction manuals for the 1993 edition of his original product, SimCity 2000, and the original 2000 version of The Sims (Bremer 1993; Bentley 2000). Wright has called The Sims a “software toy,” rather than a game, and in common with virtual worlds such as Second Life, it does not require gamelike competition. Rather, it is like an interactive doll house, in which an individual user gradually develops a personalized, home-like environment. A multiuser online version of The Sims was launched in 2002 and shut down in 2008, for offering for nearly 6 years a complex virtual world for thousands of inhabitants.

Keywords

Virtual World Cultural Evolution Cell Stage Civilization Stage Strategy Game 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Bohannon
    • 1
  • T. Ryan Gregory
    • 1
  • Niles Eldredge
    • 1
  • William Sims Bainbridge
    • 1
  1. 1.VirginiaUSA

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