Spore

You have to check out the Spore website, if, for no other reason, to see the fantasticly fun Flash animation that tells the alternate version of evolution.

At Pop!Tech, I witnessed Intelligent Design in the flesh. As WNYC's On the Media puts it on their November 3rd show:

Will Wright, creator of “The Sims,” has a brand new game on the way. In “Spore,” gamers begin as a single-cell organism, and evolve, over time, by earning and spending DNA points.

Jonathan Seabruck writes about Wright, the God of God Games, in this week's New Yorker:

At the first level of the game, you are a single-celled organism in a drop of water, which is represented on the screen as a two-dimensional environment, like a slide under a microscope. By successfully avoiding predators, which are represented as different-colored cells, you get to reproduce, and that earns you DNA points (a double helix appears over your character). DNA is the currency in the early levels of Spore, and as you evolve you can acquire better parts—larger flippers for faster swimming, say, or sharper claws for defeating predators. Eventually, you emerge from the water onto the second level—dry land—and your creature must compete with other creatures, and mate with those of your own kind which the computer generates, until you form a tribe. You can play a violent game of conquest over other tribes or you can play a social game of conciliation. If you make clever choices, according to the logic of the simulation, you will survive and continue to evolve. Along the way, you get to acquire ever more powerful tools and weapons, and to create dwellings, towns, cities. When your city has conquered the other cities in your world, you can build a spaceship and launch into space. By the final level, you have evolved into an intergalactic god who can travel throughout the universe conducting interplanetary diplomacy and warfare.
From Pop!Tech:
From Will Wright’s point of view, we can gain a complex way of understanding the world, using very simple rules. Ever since we have had the ability to customize our desktops, we’ve been creating expressions of our identities, creating a “curve” of creation that started at crap and ended at something better. The trend in game development started the same way.

 

Wright uses the term “player” to describe those of us who create. According to his experience, players love making and sharing their content, but instead of the players building static models that participate in a game, today the paradigm is one of the games creating the players. Games become a measurable, formalized environment that offers loads of data that suggest players spend much more time building complexity into their models. In that sense, computers become a creative amplifier for the player.

In a demonstration of his new game Spore, Wright created a creature with a few mouse clicks, and the computer fills in the basics of evolution. The game takes it from there. In the space of a few minutes, Wright not only hunted and mated, but he created a vehicle that was able to explore other lands, planets and galaxies.


See a video of Will Wright demonstrating the evolutionary properties of Spore.