“Spore” The Video Game

At an Orange County Multimedia Association (OCMMA) meeting a few years ago, several members gave a report on the E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) they had just attended in LA. One of the demos they saw was of “Spore,” an evolution simulation video game that was under development. In this game, you could create your own life forms and have them evolve over time from single-celled organisms to intergalactic civilizations.

A comment was made that such a game wouldn’t be very popular in a Christian school. This of course drew laughter. I few minutes later, I realized that a Christian school would be a perfect place for it. What a wonderful illustration of Intelligent Design (ID). But the moment had passed; the subject had changed; and I had missed the opportunity.

The game is finally about to be released (Sept 5 in Europe, and Sept 7 in the United States). PC World describes it in its September issue under the title “Spore: An Innovative Game With a God Complex.” It describes it as “a groundbreaking evolution simulation where you foster life, from its single-celled origins to its spread as a space-faring civilization.” You can even “Share your own creations (be they life-forms, vehicles, or buildings) with the world via the game, on YouTube, or by e-mail …”

Several observations come to my mind. I note that the article’s title refers to a “God complex,” not a “chance complex.” It seems to be impossible to describe the game without references to a creative process. It has taken at least eight years for the very intelligent game programmers to develop whatever illusion of chance exists in the game. I doubt that they ever imagined that such a process would be easy to – (I’m trying to come up with a non-ID term, oh, well) – to create. I am impressed with anyone with such talent.

But here is what would really impress me.
Start from nothing – really nothing – nothing-nothing and let the game create itself. I’m reminded of an email that went around a while back about a contest between God and the devil over creating beings. As the game was about to begin, Satan complained about needing materials for the process. God responds, “ Make your own dirt!” So my first challenge – let the game begin – by itself, out of nothing.

Then I will be impressed.

Ok. Let’s set assume the presence of stuff, laying aside the question of how it came into existence. Gather all the stuff you need to get the game into its present state of existence – I mean the elements from the periodic table – not the CPU’s, RAM, hard drives, etc., etc.. I’ll ignore, for the sake of this challenge, the design implications of making your materials list.

With all your materials together, place them in your most ideal location so that they receive the best possible environmental influences and external energy sources to cause all your stuff to assemble into your remarkable video game. Again, I’ll ignore the intelligence required to figure out such an environment. No intelligence allowed from here on however – only time, chance, and natural processes allowed from this point on.

Give it all the time you think you’ll need – more if you’d like a fudge factor. Use as many such piles to allow for more opportunities and speed things up. Use as many variations and combinations of stuff-piles and environments.

When that all comes together into your game, I’ll be really impressed.

A point on which we both would agree is that neither of us would be around long enough to see a successful result if it did take place. I suspect that the existence of the game itself already proves that it has happened by time, chance and natural processes. After all, it’s here isn’t it? How else could it be here?

Such faith impresses me.

Take the game from where it is today. See if you can out-design God. Or, your way: see if you can out-design time, chance, and natural processes. What I’ve seen so far of Spore creatures are weird beings that don’t appear very viable to me. But I’ll let you be god of your own little universe. How does it stack up against the real thing? Have you done better? Give it your most intelligent and best shot. (There’s that “i” word again!)

Now try this:
Make a being in your little universe that is essentially like you – not flesh and blood human in our time and space world but a reflection of your essence in its electronic world. Once you’ve done that, figure out a way to literally put yourself into the game (electrons, bits, bytes, pixels, etc.) as one of your beings – not just an avatar, but fully whatever-you-call-him, yet still fully human as you are out here. Cool, huh?
Now – figure out and make a way that when the computer’s power is shut off, your being can come out into our space-time world and live the rest of your life as your friend and companion.

Wow! That would impress me.

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