Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer do…
I don’t know off the top of my head what the dictionary definition of genius is, but I’m pretty sure Will Wright qualifies. Wright, for those who don’t know, is the programmer and game developer who created SimCity and pretty much any other game with “Sim” in its title. The latest Maxis project to be spearheaded by Wright is Spore. There would be no quick and easy way for me to describe the game besides “SimEverything.” It took home all the big awards at last year’s E3 and another surge of excitement has been brewing lately, fueled by the posting of this video. The video is from said E3 but the panel was industry only. It’s only been recently the gaming public has gotten to see this footage of the game in action. Considering the advanced stage of development the game appears to be at in the footage, shot last March, it seems that the game will probably release before the end of 2006.
Spore appears to be another innovation that distorts and blurs the notion of what exactly a “game” is. Wright himself said that he wanted to make something that would spur players to walk away from the game and have conversations with each other about philosophy and the basics of existence. We’ve come a long way from Pong, without a doubt. But in a sense Spore could be looked at as a sort of Pong in itself, a genesis for an entirely new user/technology dynamic. Spore could just as easily be called “SimGod” if Maxis didn’t have to worry about losing sales.
Watching the video and thinking about Spore reminded me of when my friend Ian and I used to have extensive conversations about the nature of the mind. The discussions would mostly center on whether the mind, as the final piece of our evolutionary make-up, would continue over millions of years to evolve to the point where it would no longer be dependent on the body. Or, in a similar vein, what the implications would be if science could come to a fundamental understanding of how the impulses in the brain create the mind. If this hypothetical leap could be made then it wouldn’t exactly be a hypothetical long-shot to suppose that the next development would be the capability to transfer an existing mind into a different storage device. It is a given that said storage device would have to at least have the processing capacity of the human brain. It is also a given that the brain is capable of creating remarkably complex and extremely real fantasy scenarios, as it does every night when we enter r.e.m. sleep. It would therefore not be surprising if we were to find that a mind in this circumstance, freed of its dependence on the body, were to spend much (if not all) of its time deeply engaged in such dreams. Allowing such a scenario to play out indefinitely, it would seem likely that consciousness would filter into these dreams sooner or later. There is already an analogous experience for this, the so-called lucid dream. People who experience lucid dreams say that it becomes easier to manipulate these dreams the more they experience them. With no “real world” for the body to be jolted awake in, if the storage device can hypothetically store the mind for an infinite period of time then the mind would become infinitely more involved in infinitely more complex dreams. At what point in this experience does the human mind become indistinguishable from the concept of God?
So Spore is to being God what Pong is to an Xbox 360. Alright, I say that tongue firmly planted in cheek and more than ready to laugh in my own face. But there is a sliver of truth there. Or if not truth, there’s at least an interesting topic for discussion about the nature of electronic “games” and our relationship with them.
In other news, the Doppelganger site is up! Go there! Make sure to visit the forum and sign up. Not only will you have a great venue to discuss all things pop culture in, but you’ll also find out when you can get your own Burt Ward ball-gag t-shirt. It’s what all the cool kids will be wearing.
I also added a couple things to the poetry section and will hopefully add a few more soon. These are all old things, which reminds me that I am not writing enough.