Will Wright's game of Spore will be released this Friday and Sunday. The game has had great publicity, and it will rank among the most popular computer games for years. Spore features a faux simulation of evolution, incorrect in many respects; yet it will give its players a sense of how evolution can work. In the game, a few simple rules govern how creatures can evolve. Hordes of people have been tinkering with the game's initial evolution machine, and they have produced a prodigious variety of creatures.
Now here's what interests me:
Kids who are anti-evolutionists will play this game. Children of proponents of Intelligent Design will play this game. Anti-evolutionist grown-ups will play this game. How will it affect their perception of evolution? If you do not believe in evolution, what will you say about this game?
You might just diss Spore, or even try to ban it. Or you might claim that what happens in this game is actually a form of Intelligent Design. But there's no getting around the fact that the game will familiarize people with evolution. And once you get the hang of it, there may be no going back. And don't forget, Spore will be taught in the schools -- informally, even though it's not part of the curriculum -- it's going to be the main topic of discussion for a lot of gamers, for months.