Friday, September 26, 2008

Spore

Our own Tom Near was prominently featured in a New York Times article. And not just peripherally mentioned, mind you--he was called "a heavy-duty gamer." Holy crap! The article is about Spore, a recently released game from Will Wright (of SimCity and The Sims fame). It's a sketch-simulation of life from the origin on. According to some of the nerdbags quoted in the article,  the game may get the tempo and mode of evolution wrong. 

Here's my favorite excerpt from the beginning of the piece:
By night, Dr. Near, an assistant professor at Yale, is a heavy-duty gamer, steering tanks or playing football on his computer. This afternoon his two lives have come together.

3 comments:

Glor said...

I guess we know why Near hasn't been on the blog lately! Not that I'm one to talk given my late summer haitus...

Seriously though, I got the Spore Origins game for my iPhone about a week ago. It's reasonably entertaining, but has little to do with the science of evolution. You just engineer your little creature in a manner you see fit. I think it would be more fun if they made it so that your creature was reproducing and offspring were succeeding in proportion to the variation they express (i.e., real natural selection). I guessing though that this might involve lessons about sex and death that are inappropriate for the target audience of this game...

Dan Warren said...

I got it when it came out, and I've played it a bit. It's pretty fun, but Rich is right - it doesn't really have that much to do with evolution. To me the primary appeal of the game is just seeing what sorts of crazy critters I and others can create. If you have Spore and aren't subscribed to any Sporecasts, you're missing out.

Tom Near said...

It is a nice game, but it does not explain my absence. Teaching my new phylogenetics course is my most viable excuse. The Spore interest has been fun and for me hit its apex when I gave a demo at Saybrook College here at Yale. There were approximately 30 students and we had some interesting discussions about gaming, as well as evolutionary biology and pseudoscience (e.g. creationism).