Spore: Playing God, Promoting Evolution, or Enjoying Creating?

by Nathan Fischer

Have you ever wanted to play God? Deep down inside, I think we all do, which is probably why so many people enjoy the games created by game designer Will Wright. He has dedicated his career to projects like SimCity and The Sims – projects that let the gamer play god in their own little world. Now with the game Spore, Will Wright’s latest release, the “god game” is taken to a whole new level.

A true desire to “play god” grows from the sin from the Fall in the Garden, when Eve and Adam desired to “be like God.” Yet we will save that sinful aspect of “playing God” for another article.

Spore is a fun and whacky game that has one very simple objective: evolve a creature from a microscopic organism to a sentient creature that is ready to fly in outer space. The genius of the game is that the player can create any kind of creature that he wants to create. Basically, the player is given a hunk of clay and the tools to develop that hunk of clay into anything. So from the insanely absurd to the mundanely normal, one can create whatever he likes.

From that perspective, the “evolution” aspect of the game is really quite perfect. Evolution is relegated to the realm of fiction – most of these creatures could not possibly exist. It’s just a game, and it’s very fun. There is nothing scientific about it, nor do the creators of Spore try to shove evolutionary ideals and principles down the player’s throat, as fact. Actually, the humorous, bizarre combinations for creatures only emphasize that evolution is a fictitious theory. In other words, the Christian will not have to worry about being on the defensive during this game. It’s just an enjoyable, relaxing game.

That is not to say, though, that there is nothing deeper to Spore. In fact, there is quite a lot to think about in game, first and foremost being the question of what makes us unique from the animals. In Spore, the great mark of your creature, what sets him above the rest of the world, is the fact that at some point or other, he will reach sentience. This is, in Spore, what truly makes your creature unique and special.

That should make us pause and consider for a moment: is this true? Unfortunately, for the world, what sets human beings apart from the animals, what makes us special, is our self-awareness – our sentience. Apart from this, we are no different from the rest of nature. In fact, some may go even so far as to say that in spite of this we are still no different from the animals around us.

However, as Christians, we know that this is not true. Scripture plainly tells us that we were created in the image of God. We did not evolve from a single cell organism. God placed Adam and Eve over the animals, and this authority remains with us today, even if made imperfect by the fall into sin.

However, even with this authority, there is something else even more unique, more special about mankind. It is not sentience, nor even the authority granted man by God in the Garden of Eden that ultimately defines us as who we are. What defines us is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Christ’s death on the cross defines us. We are redeemed by God Himself. We are saved by the blood of the Lamb.

In Spore, you cannot climb from your computer chair into the game to become one of your creatures, nor can you sacrifice yourself for your cute little sentient beings that you mold throughout the game. That is precisely what God did for us, though – the Creator was born of the created, and He dwelt among us, and He died for us.

It’s good that in Spore there is no option to designate a creature to die for your race that you created. It would really only be a mockery of the true sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Spore it just meant to be an entertaining game. And it is in the Gospel, that good news of the freedom from sin, death, and the devil, that we can pick up a game like Spore and say, “I will play this, and have fun.” I know, it sounds silly, but it’s true! As Christians, all that we do is covered by the blood of Jesus. Every action of every day is cleansed by Him – even when we play video games.

So for those of you who like video games, enjoy Will Wright’s new creation. It’s both amusing and relaxing. And rest always in the assurance that your sins are forgiven, even when you’re sitting at your computer and molding a three legged, five eyed monstrosity that you name “Glarfinix.” Your Creator loves you, and He would do anything and everything for you. In fact, He already has. This is what defines you.

Nathan Fischer is a graduate of Concordia University – Wisconsin. Among other interests, he and his wife Katie enjoy watching movies, playing video games, and comparing and contrasting them with our faith. Nathan and Katie are also expecting their first child.