Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rough Guide to Videogames: an evolutionary perspective

Another Rough Guide is out this week: The Rough Guide to Videogames. And, as you might expect, a few weeks ago one of the authors, Kate Berens, launched a companion blog: Atypicalgamer.

For me, Kate's blog provides proof of the "it's-a-small-world" maxim, in that listed among her favourite links is Eurogamer, a company set up by the Loman brothers, Rupert and Nick. Nick is a medic/bioinformatician who runs xBASE, is doing a PhD with me and helped me find some videogames with an evolutionary theme when writing The Rough Guide to Evolution.

In fact, within the world of videogames, life simulation games with an evolutionary flavour have a noble pedigree stretching back to Sim-Life and beyond—although, as so-called God games, these usually incorporate a heavy dose of teleology or intelligent design to give the game a sense of purpose!

Nick's recommendations include Darwinia ( and Creatures ( Off my own bat, I also tried out the Playstation game Darwin on my children, but they got bored of it before working it how it all worked.

But for those at the cutting edge of cool, there is only one evolutionary game worth talking about: Spore (wikipedia article; official web site:; preview here), even though it hasn't been released yet—it's not due out till next month! Despite this, Spore has its own YouTube channel with plenty of promotional videos—here's one:

The developers have wound anticipation to fever pitch with the release of the Spore Creature Creator (review on Eurogamer), which is available for free download. Spore's creator Will Wright recently boasted that the number of player-created species in Spore already exceeds the number of real biological species on planet Earth! There is even a Charles Darwin Spore creature (although I have to boast the Pallen family already has a CD mii on our Wii):

Oh, and the music for Spore is being developed by Brian Eno.
I look forward to hearing more on Spore from Kate's blog in a few short weeks' time!

1 comment:

KateB said...

Small world indeed. I review Eurogamer in the book, too. It's a great site. Good luck with the Rough Guide to Evolution!