Playing the Word Game – Spore Reviews and ResponseSeptember 11, 2008
Reading today’s post of my blog cohort Michael Abbott (Brainy Gamer), he proposes the argument for the depth of Will Wright’s latest opus Spore. Much of the contention is between the reviews and the actual product; mainly what seems to be the substitution of “complexity” and “depth.”
The problem is that it’s a word game. Both Michael Abbot and his prominent blog associate Leigh Alexander are playing the roles of message board posters justifying the game–which is perfectly fine. But many of the criticisms for the scores that the Spore reviews are that claims that they are reviewing the game to pander to the hardcore gamer rather than the game’s intended demographic of the casual audience.
“Complexity” and “depth” as discussed by both Abbot and Alexander is a touchy subject and relies on too many subjective assumptions on the reviewer and the reader. I believe former Computer Gaming World/Games For Windows Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jeff Green put it best is that there is a lack of consistency in the various stages of Spore. This is where most of the contention for reviewers seem to have with the game.
The biggest gripe seems to be with the Tribal and Civilization stages of the game. Maybe this is because these genres of gameplay can be easily compared with equivocal games from other franchises. But I don’t believe reviewers are that irresponsible or naive to simply place all fault on these stages because it is done better in other games. Rather the preference for other stages such as the Creature Creator or Space stage is so apparent it eclipses the other elements of the game.
“The achievement of Spore is just this. Its extraordinary complexity has been made invisible, and its depth has been hidden inside a menagerie of colorful creatures.”
I do not believe the depth of the game remains hidden, it seems to be widely apparent on where the depth lies in Spore. In the reviewers’ defense, the review scores that Spore has been recieving is nothing to be ashamed of. They may also be inconsequential to the casual market that does not follow these scores. What we have here is typical player contention with the reviewer on the content of the review. It’s a word game as with translating any text. Regardless, Spore is an admirable achievement I am sure will not be forgotten.