September 16th, 2008

Wired’s Game/Life recently ran a piece called “10 Things I Learned from Spore.” That list included things like “didgeridoo = friends” and “sometimes you have to kill babies.” Fair enough, Game/Life, but now that my own review copy of Spore has arrived, I’ve encountered some touching life lessons, too:

1. Sex does not exist.
While some of you may have been under the misconception — perpetuated by liberal health education, no doubt — that babies usually come from the physical union of male and female genitalia, such is not the case in the Spore universe. Instead, when you want to mate, court somebody without actually touching them, then wait for an egg to pop out of your backside. Oh, gestation periods don’t exist either.

2. Gender is a myth.
Judith Butler would be so proud. Far from being stuck in traditional roles of masculine and feminine and the debate of nature vs. nurture, Spore eliminates biological sex altogether. Whoever wants to have babies can have babies. Whoever wants to invade sovereign nations can invade sovereign nations. Whoever wants to wear high heels… Well, those guys may be out of luck.

3. Singing solves everything.
Need a friend in a hurray? Just sing to a stranger. However, after a rousing round of Rock Band the other night with some friends I didn’t sing to to acquire, I’m reminded that less-than-perfect serenading may hurt, not help, in your search for allies — in the real world, at least

4. Life was better as a cell.
Call it blasphemy, but so far the part of Spore I’ve enjoyed most is cell stage. There’s nothing too complicated I have to worry about, I get instant gratification int the form of things to eat, and I can swim around all day. This whole land nonsense is bumming out my splashy high. Why couldn’t they have kept that missing underwater stage?

5. Evolution suddenly make sense.
Not that I didn’t believe it before, but that one moment when you first figure out that you should spray poison behind you so that you don’t ingest it yourself and you can ward off the enemies you can’t see… That’s a elementary school science lesson right there. Of course, the children will create horrible anus creatures, but what gamer isn’t doing that already?

6. Patience: I don’t got it.
As fun as I’m sure Spore is for some (both my roommates have been playing nonstop since my copy arrived) I just can’t seem to get into it. Anyone else having a similar experience?

Tags: new games, reviews

7 Responses to “6 Things I Learned from ‘Spore’”

  1. rachael Says:

    Give it eight hours or so – it doesn’t get going until well into the Space Stage, and then all the practice you put into being a creature or a tribal chieftain pays off as you burn other creatures and tribes to the ground to get at their natural resources. (#7 fact about Spore: It is adamantly amoral.)

  2. Denis Says:

    I’m having no problems delving into Spore.

    Because I had just read Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness, the sex/gender aspect of this game smacked me across the head instantly (it also helps that part of my degree was on the topic of gender). It had me so excited I gushed about how much I loved it for myself (identifying as non-cisgendered) all over my blog.

    It was messy.

  3. Jinny Says:

    I hear ya, Bonnie. I haven’t been able to muster the desire to play Spore again after my first 4-hour session. Plus, with Rock Band 2 out now…a lot of my free time is devoted to it. I’ll probably give it the full 8 hours (and actually reach space stage) when the Rock Band 2 hysteria dies down a bit. Also, I had no idea that auto-run in Spore is “r” and not the traditional backspace key. Someone was kind enough to give me that tip. It comes in handy during the creature stage. :)

  4. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    Curse you and your Rock Band 2-having ability! ;)

    Not a lot of people have talked about the at-times atypical controls in Spore, actually. For a game that plays so directly into so many gaming tropes, it often flies in the face of expectations in terms of unit movement, or camera control. When your interface controls change from level to level, it can get very frustrating. I suspect that plays a major role in the mass hatred of the Tribal stage.

  5. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I take it that means you’re less praising it for flying in the face of control tropes and more expressing frustration? It’s nice to see a game break the mold, but it still have to do it effectively…

  6. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    Sometimes a trope is a trope for a reason. Some control schemes just work better than others. Flying in the face of them is like putting square tires on your car and calling it “innovative.”

  7. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Meow. Somebody sounds pissed at Spore’s control scheme :).

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