Steven Johnson on Spore

The NYT has a very long and insightful piece called The Long Zoom by Steven Johnson. It's mostly about exemplifying how we have new "ways of seeing” (satellites tracking in on license-plate numbers; Google maps that take you from a view of an entire region to the roof of your house...) with the future EA game Spore (by Will Wright). Some excerpts (I picked up only 2-3 things but there is A LOT more to say/point at):

it is more likely that the work that will fix the long zoom in the popular imagination will be neither a movie nor a book nor anything associated with the cultural products that dominated the 20th century. It will be a computer game. (...) Spore may be more ambitious in scope than these games, but its two most important innovations lie elsewhere: in its system for generating user-created creatures and in the way it allows players to share their creations with others. (...) Spore flips that model [MMORPG] on its head. Instead of a single shared world with millions of active participants, Spore promises a million alternate worlds, each occupied by a single player. You will meet creatures invented by others, but ultimately you are alone in your own private universe. Wright calls Spore “massively single player.”

And of course, fabbing is not that far...

When you visit the Spore studio in Emeryville... Everyone’s desk is populated by plastic action figures of Spore creatures, manufactured in-house by Wright’s employees using a 3-D printer that can generate a physical toy in a matter of minutes from a computer model. (Electronic Arts is investigating the possibility of selling customized Spore critters in toy stores as a side business.)

Why do I blog this? the article is a compelling piece that describes in details how Spore is important, especially regarding new perception and testing of concepts (by creating parallel realities and see them living). In the excerpt above, I picked up only extracts related to the game model aspect because I find interesting how the game designers chose their own direction which is different from the current MMOG one.