It's officially summer. And while that supposedly means I should be writing and running rats, it really means that I'm allowing myself more time to screw around, exercise, read novels, play games, and even lust after games that don't exist yet.
As such, I'm going to officially jump onto the Spore bandwagon. In case you don't know, Spore is probably the most-talked-about computer game currently in development, the brainchild of Sims-creator, Will Wright. I'll let the video speak for itself, but in a nutshell this game will attempt to model Life, the Universe and Everything. Seriously. You will start the game as a single-cell organism on an isolated planet, progress through various stages of evolution, encounter other species (created by other players), form civilizations, watch them collapse, invent spacecraft, and eventually confront the mind-boggling scope of galactic space - which will reflect the mind-boggling scope of cyberspace, since much of the game content (species) will be player-generated and instantaneously uploaded for communal use. It will be like one gigantic evolutionary playground, with you playing the role of Intelligent Designer - or rather, one ID among many. If all this sounds impossible to put into one game, it should be noted that 1) Will Wright is a genius, 2) Spore has been in development for 4 years already.
You can check out the Spore website for mucho cool images and videos but here's one I recently came across that gets the scientist in me salivating. The pontificating uber-nerd is Will Wright and the gameplay is, frankly, astonishing.
Every now and then, game designers blah-blah about the "educational value" of their work (Grand Theft Auto teaches us about... societal mechanisms of inner-city violence? Hobbesian theories of human nature? How to kill a prostitute with a sword?). Spore may actually achieve this lofty goal by evoking curiosity and wonder. As any scientist will tell you, this is where the process always begins.