I am pretty excited about the new game Spore, from Will Wright, the same designer who created SimCity and The Sims. It allows you to build a creature from scratch, watch it develop over millions of years, and then help it build a civilization, even create spacecraft. It sounds like Civilization on steroids.
The NY Times ran an article describing the game’s debt to evolutionary biology. Wright states that he was inspired by biologists like Richard Dawkins and Edward O. Wilson for the game’s evolutionary concept. But note the description of how the game is played, from a game of Dr. Thomas Near of Yale:
The next time [after his creature died once], Dr. Nearâ€™s luck changes. He gains enough points to move to the next level of the game. His creature grows a brain. â€œOh man, itâ€™s like I graduated college,â€ he says. Dr. Near can now alter his creature. He stretches the body to give it a neck. He adds a pair of kangaroolike legs.
As one of the scientists interviewed in the article notes, “The mechanism is severely messed up.” In fact, it almost sounds like another theory, which, I should note, is not mentioned once in the entire article.