Sims Creator Releases New Epic Game

Will Wright's newest creation isn't just for people who want to play games. It's for people who want to play God.

The hotly anticipated Spore, which hit the stores earlier this week, is being touted by publisher Electronic Arts as "your own universe in a box."

Like the record-setting SimCity and subsequent Sim games, Spore is a creative tool that lets users create and build a reality. But Spore picks up where the Sim games left off. Starting with single-cell organisms and eventually reaching beyond the galaxy, players can customize creatures, buildings, vehicles and whole civilizations.

"In Spore, basically, the theme of it is the complete view of life -- from its early origins through evolution. ... But at every level, the player is creating something," Wright said.

Wright sat down with to talk about the origins and evolution of his own latest creation. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.

Where did the idea for Spore come from?

The idea of it came from a broad interest in science -- since I was a young kid, especially in astronomy -- and more recently, my interest in the SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] project, which is searching for aliens out in the cosmos.

And, also, I think what players were doing previously with the Sims. We had this community making tremendous amounts of creative characters, houses, objects and stories. And so, I was interested in basically how we could take that to the next level.

We've been told that Spore is a single-player game but incorporates elements of social networking. How does that work?

In some sense, we basically took what we saw happening in social networking sites ... where players aren't necessarily online at the same time, but can go to [other] pages and browse [their] stuff and leave feedback.

In the game, as I'm moving around my universe, I'm encountering creatures and societies that were made by other players. I can click on those and find out who made them. If I like their stuff, I can put them on my buddy list. I can build collections of other things that I find.

At that level, the game is like browsing this huge art gallery. But just about everything you encounter in the game was made by other players.

Unlike other popular games out there, such as Halo and Grand Theft Auto, Spore -- much like the Sim games before it -- really draws from the real world and exposes users to the sciences. Did you mean for it to be an educational tool?

In some sense, Spore was an attempt at showing the unity of all the sciences. We don't chop up the sciences and say, 'This is geology' and 'That's biology.' But, in fact, they're all part of one whole thing.

We take the universe and build a toy out of it. And at different parts of the game, you're playing with a toy character or a toy city or a toy species. We kind of simplify reality and make it a caricature. So, it kind of gives you some aspects of the way evolution works and how societies work.

What kind of person was this game intended for?

Most games shoot for a fairly narrow demographic, usually 15- to 25-year-old males. We were shooting for a much, much wider demographic ... We were looking at a group with a) more gender balance, and that, b) was much more generationally-dispersed.

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