Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Bad Grades For Spore

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerOctober 24, 2008 2:19 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Last month I wrote in the New York Times about Spore, a highly anticipated game that let you follow life from microbe to intergalactic civilization. I had a couple evolutionary biologists play around with it to get their reaction, and contact a couple others who had had a chance to play the game. They gave it positive--though decidely mixed--marks. In today's issue of Science, John Bohanon describes the reactions of a number of other biologists, and they really don't like it at all. Here's what Ryan Gregory has to say:

"The problem is that the game features virtually none of the key ingredients of evolution as we understand it," says Gregory. "There's no shared common descent between species, since every single creature in Spore can trace its lineage back to a different single-celled organism that arrives from space." Spore also lacks biological variation. "When you run into other members of your species, they are always identical clones of you." Nor does it have natural selection. "There are no consequences for dying, since you just reappear at your nest." Your organism does evolve, says Gregory, "in the sense that it changes over time, but it really has no bearing on how things evolve in the real world."

I believe the article is behind a subscription wall, but you can check out a wiki Bohanan set up for an in-depth report card.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In