So over the past month, I’ve been playing Spore with a team of scientists, grading the game on each of its scientific themes. When it comes to biology, and particularly evolution, Spore failed miserably. According to the scientists, the problem isn’t just that Spore dumbs down the science or gets a few things wrong–it’s meant to be a game, after all–but rather, it gets most of biology badly, needlessly, and often bizarrely wrong. I also tracked down the scientists who appeared on television in what seemed like an endorsement of Spore’s scientific content on the National Geographic channel. They said they had been led to believe that the interviews were for a straight documentary about “developmental evolutionary” science rather than a video promoting a computer game (see the news story in Science‘s 24 October issue). “It’s an outrage,” says Neil Shubin, a paleontologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, who worries that science has been “hijacked” to promote a product. How did things go so wrong for a game that seemed so good?
You can check out a lengthy article from various scientist’s view of Spore. According to them, the game gets flunking scores in the science department. It does make you think, what would it be like if we got the true Spore from 2005 where Will wanted to start the creatures at the molecular level and to have the game based on scientifically facts (and speculations).
The prototypes shows proof that Spore should be a whole lot more… Sad to see it vanish, as Will was the one of the best when it came to introducing games with educational themes in them.