A lengthy article in Science
magazine by John Bohannon is entitled, tellingly, 'Flunking Spore'. The piece not only gets the lowdown on Will Wright/Maxis/EA's 'evolutionary' sim but turns up a worrying quote from one of the scientists interviewed in a National Geographic documentary on the game.
Professor Neil Schubin from the University of Chicago is, among other things, Associate Dean, Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology. In short he knows his stuff, which is one of the reasons he was chosen to comment on the documentary.
John Bohannon's Science article
, quotes Professor Shubin and other experts used in what was purported at the time to be a documentary. The results are not positive, "They said they had been led to believe that the interviews were for a straight documentary about "developmental evolutionary" science rather than a video promoting a computer game.
"'I was used', says Neil Shubin, a palaeontologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, who worries that science has been "hijacked" to promote a product.
In September this year, The New York Times
carried an article regarding the program and the game, in which is quoted two other Evolutionary biologists, Dr Thomas Near and Richard Prum - both of Yale. Both concurred that they, "like it a great deal. But they also have some serious reservations. The step-by-step process by which Spore’s creatures change does not have much to do with real evolution. 'The mechanism is severely messed up", Dr. Prum said.'"
Professor Shubin was also quoted, saying, “The differences between Spore and nature do not bother me. I see Spore for what it is: a game. And it is a game in the best sense of the word. It is not identical to nature, but it is a world that evolves, that changes and where the players are part of those processes.”
Bohannon's article then proceeds to gauge the views of several expert boffins
. These range from, "They've done a nice job with the look of the Cell stage" (T. Ryan Gregory, University of Guelph) to "I loathe Spore" (William Bainbridge, a sociologist and co-director of Human-Centered Computing at the U.S. National Science Foundation) and "Spore is essentially a very impressive, entertaining, and elaborate Mr. Potato Head that uses the language of evolution but none of the major principles," conclude Gregory and Niles Eldredge (again from the University of Guelph).