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Why Spore Is Special 77

Posted by Zonk
from the omgreleasenow dept.
The New York Times is running a long piece by Steven Johnson, author of "Everything Bad Is Good For You." In 'The Long Zoom', Johnson describes just what is so special about Will Wright's Spore . From the article: "Despite the fictions, many of the themes of Spore are immensely valuable ones, particularly in an age of environmental crisis: the fragility of life, the connection between micro- and macro- scales, the complex networks of ecosystems and food webs, the impact of new technology on social systems. Spore's players will get to experience firsthand how choices made on a local scale -- a single creature's decision to, say, adopt an omnivorous lifestyle -- can end up having global repercussions. They will detect similarities between one level of the game and another, the complex balancing act of global trade mirroring the complex balancing act of building a sustainable environment. And traveling through a simulated universe, from cells to constellations, will, ideally, make them more curious about the real-world universe they already inhabit -- and show them that they have the power to shape that universe as well."
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Why Spore Is Special

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  • Firsthand? (Score:4, Informative)

    by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Monday October 09, 2006 @03:49PM (#16368685) Journal
    Spore's players will get to experience firsthand how choices made on a local scale -- a single creature's decision to, say, adopt an omnivorous lifestyle -- can end up having global repercussions.
    No they won't. Spore is...um...for want of a better word, fiction. The dynamics of the game have been tweaked to behave this way. There's no 'firsthand' experience of 'global repercussions'. If a bunch of major polluting companies decided to release an ecological game in which the effects of any decision were always purely local could we expect Fox News to report how players could experience, firsthand, the robustness of nature against human interference?

    Now if spore was built as an accurate simulation based on parameters measured out in nature, maybe one could argue that we were experiencing 'firsthand'. Otherwise this is just nonsense.

  • by PaulMorel (962396) on Monday October 09, 2006 @04:07PM (#16368999)

    You may be wondering why Steven Johnson is writing about Spore. The answer is that he wrote one of the best books ever written about swarm intelligence, Emergence [amazon.com].

    For a para-scientific book, it is very deep. It goes over the entire history of swarm intelligence and really explains how local actions can have global consequences. It is also incredibly fluid and easy to read.

    In short, you are not a true computer-geek until you have read it, so check it out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 10, 2006 @12:09AM (#16374167)
    > Black and White certainly lived up to people's expectations of a trainable, inteligent agent.

    Actually, the creature in Black and White far exceeded my expectations. Unfortunately the rest of the game stunk.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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