Feeds

Video game legend hopes to change mankind

Wright gets instinctual

SANS - Survey on application security programs

SXSW Video game god Will Wright thinks his latest creation might do far more than entertain. It may just save the planet.

The agenda laid out by Wright, creator of SimCity and the Sims, today at the SXSW technology, movie and music festival goes beyond ambitious. He's looking for the upcoming game Spore from Maxis/Electronic Arts to help youngsters think about how their actions and the actions of groups of people affect the environment around them. The kind of teaching through experience present in Spore could aid mankind, which is notoriously bad at long-term thinking.

We're not sold on Wright's vision but will present it as told.

Spore looks like an almost certain blockbuster, giving users basically four or five games in one. The software aims to recreate the journey from a one-celled organism cruising through primordial goo to a sophisticated space traveler.

The game does by beginning with a "Pac-Man" style game where the player guides his one-celled creature around, picking up food in the ocean and avoiding larger sea creatures. Once the creature has eaten enough food and the player has demonstrated a mastery of the game's basic commands, the second part of the game begins.

The player creates a new creature using Spore's sophisticated design tools. You say how large the creature is, how many legs it has, what color it is and if you'd like to, for example, give it extra mouths where you might usually expect arms. Once the design is complete, Spore renders your creation and provides it with unique movements and characteristics.

"You can do in a few minutes something a Pixar artist spent weeks creating," Wright said.

Your creature then becomes a land animal and goes through life mating with other creatures, eating and trying not to be eaten. After your creature evolves and builds up intelligence, he eventually starts running the show.

That third part of the game consists of managing an entire planet full of different species and civilizations. Your animals mature, build cities and then gradually craft more complex inventions such as spacecraft.

And that's where the fourth part of the game kicks in when you blast off into space to see all the different worlds created by other Spore users and some automatically generated planets made by the game.

Spore Spud

Players can borrow Spore's design tools to craft very realistic objects such as the spaceship from Star Trek or the Millennium Falcon.

"One of the things I want to see is an interstellar war betweens Care-Bears and Klingons," Wright said.

The game stands as the most ambitious project of its kind to date, but Wright is thinking even bigger.

He believes that children, and potentially adults, will use this world creation as a learning exercise. Wright describes Spore as a "philosophy tool" that will force people to spend extra time "contemplating the meaning of life" or considering the complex workings of civilizations.

You might, for example, be forced to manage a planet battling global warming. Or you might come across other challenges that make you debate real life threats.

"We are so bad at long-term thinking," Wright said, adding that the game might help "recalibrate our instincts."

Spore War

"Hopefully, this will allow us to change the world just a little bit for the better," he closed.

Some might consider this kind of talk preposterous. And, as mentioned, we're not sure we buy it.

As presented in demos, however, Spore does look to place higher demands on users than your typical brain-shrinking garbage such as Second Life or for that matter television.

Wright worked to blend elements often found in so-called linear drama such as a movie with his interactive game. Through the process of building your creature and living through its evolution you experience something akin to a character arc and possibly also feel serious emotions for the animal.

Overall, Spore could provide a much deeper experience for gamers and in fact deliver some of the tutelage Wright aspires to.

And we wish Wright luck with his quest no matter how quixotic it might be. The game legend dreams big and more often that not comes close to pulling off his vision. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.