Video Game to promote Evolution

Sep 14, 2012


Discussion by: thekidrio
I am a software developer and avid gamer. I am also very upset when I see YEC or any creationists gaining ground with younger people using comic books, cartoons, and other means of direct communication to children. 

I see the casual gaming boom as a potential place to teach evolution via a video game. 

This idea is very early in development but here is a rough outline:

There are several ‘stages’ of the game starting out simply and gradually increasing in complexity. There is a game called “SPORE” that is a great example but there is too much direct control of individuals to really have an analog of natural selection. There is a creature creator trial available (
http://www.spore.com/trial ) that I think most of you would enjoy. No I do not work for them ūüôā

Stage I – Single Cell organisms with choices by the player being faster movement by selecting a flagella of various lengths etc. These cells are then released into the “nature” of the game and you see if they can survive against the programmed environment and the other cells that other people playing have created. Once your cell can start to replicate in an ESS they get to “evolve” to the next stage.

Stage II – This stage increases the level of complexity of the objects by allowing a broader gene pool to select from. This stage will primarily be populated with mostly flora with the fauna being very simple at this stage, yet more complex and more variety visible in the “world”. Again once your creature survives long enough to establish some sort of ESS you can move up.

Stage III – This is where it really can get interesting. Animals are much more complex, social structures start to emerge as now instead of watching your single creation move through the stage, you can actually see how generations of your creation are progressing. There might even be some generational mutations that give the player a choice of possible mutations based on the current gDNA (game DNA, hehe) of the animal i.e. if you have a 2 inch tail, you can grow it or shrink it by a small amount. and so on.

Stage IV – I am not sure, but this could be where social interaction becomes more important or your animals develop intelligence or some such.

Still raw, so any and all comments are welcomed! 

 

36 comments on “Video Game to promote Evolution

  • 1
    klauscam says:

    I’ve played Spore about a year and a half ago. It tries to mimic evolution but I think it fails miserably to educate children about evolution. This is because it gives the user the ability to choose how the creature will look like. How and what will it eat and how it evolves.

    In stage IV your creature stops evolving physically and starts to evolve mentally. Like building spaceships, travel to other worlds etc.

    It is a good game on the whole but I think for a child to get an idea of evolution is not a good place to start from.



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  • 2
    LJofSpades says:

    This is a good idea. It reminds me of those “bridge-building” games where you design a bridge and then test it to see if it can withstand different loads etc. – a type of game that I’ve always enjoyed.

    It is a double-edged sword though.

    Creationist cartoons, comic books and games have the peculiar advantage of not having to adhere to reality, possibly allowing them more creative licence (no pun intended), in turn adhering to the common themes and conventions of these entertainment media. With a game based on evolution though – one that, I assume, would straddle the fence between casual and educational gaming – it would certainly be a challenge to find the right balance between sticking to the canon of the evolution narrative and taking that aforementioned creative license.

    Unless I’ve misunderstood, a key part of this game (the bit that indeed makes it a game as oppose to a simulation of evolution) is the player creating/designing an organism, and then subsequently testing to see if natural selection favours it (is that right?). I just wonder whether that element would imply, to those inclined to this sort of thinking, that there is “design” involved in evolution.

    Honestly though, I think that it is a good idea and there shouldn’t be unnecessary, pedantic criticism of it because there needs to be counteraction to the Creationist B.S. that is pushed out at us, but especially on the youth.



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  • 4
    Mister T says:

    I think it’s a cool idea and it could be very fun to watch some emergent behaviour. The only objection I might have is a philosophical one. Unless you take an¬†esoteric view, by definition a game has a player which influences an outcome. In a sense this is the very antithesis of evolution where it is a spontaneously emergent system which was most likely started by the interaction of matter according to physical laws of the universe. If your goal as a player is to influence evolution by selecting traits for survival, you are in essence taking on the role of a god, bypassing the self-guiding selection pressure of environment and competition. That’s not to say such a game wouldn’t be fun or educational, but it kind of defeats the object of trying to promote the designerless status of evolution.



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  • 5
    AsylumWarden says:

    Not wanting to move off on too much of a tangent, but why stop at evolution? Gaming, comics etc must also be a great platform to promote all manner of science, reason, logic stances. Final Fantasy X (despite it’s fantasy tone and far-fetchedness) is a great example of a story with anti-religious undertones whereby a religion is set up to serve the founders of it and the subsequent¬† detrimental effects. Why not a few more of these? I like dabbling with the RPG maker packages, if anyone has any good ideas for other games, let me know, maybe we can get a project going?



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  • 6
    papa lazaru says:

    But but but…. You’re DESIGNING natural selection!

    *sorry*

    These sort of games have been done with variable degrees of success. Creatures, Evolva, Spore… Best of luck, life simulators are always fun. One of the hardest part is keeping the environment stable and sustainable.

    ¬†I wouldn’t know where to start tbh, there’s mind boggling emergent behaviours coming out of some research, like self-replicating programs (well, viruses are in some respect), ¬†‘game of life’ type things, physics simulations (euphoria), I’m sure you would know more about these than I do.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v



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  • 7
    Sjoerd Westenborg says:

    As some people have pointed out already, simply by virtue of the player having any influence on the process, kids might get a crooked idea about what evolution actually involves. Because it still has to be a fun game I would absolutely go with the idea of making them pick different flagella and such, but have a small balloon (or even a cartoon Darwin?) pop up to explain how it would happen in reality (two lines on random mutations for example, keep it simple).

    Maybe the ‘design menu’ could be organised like a strand of DNA? Highlighting one gene will give you a set of mutation options for the flagellum, and moving your mouse over the next one unfolds a menu to alter another property.
    If you want to get complicated, you might want to restrict the amount of mutations the player is allowed to make every ‘turn’ or generation (I assume you want multiple generations in every stage). Finding bonuses and maluses like¬†amino acids¬†and viruses could affect the amount of mutations available for the next generation.

    I hope it’s useful.



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  • 8
    Mignostic says:

    I am also a software developer (with a biology background) and have thought about such games a lot. What’s there is either too scientific and boring, or too far away from actual evolution theory.

    As was said before, as long as the player deliberately “designs” creatures, the teaching effect could well be the opposite of the intended one. I think the necessary aspects of any game to teach the idea of evolution should be “random change” and “selection”. Maybe create creatures by random variation / combination and have the player select one of those to enter the ongoing game of competition – without allowing any direct intervention afterwards. I suspect, if this is done in a generic and open-ended fashion, very interesting things can occur.

    It’ll be a challenge to make this appealing enough to reach a substantial crowd, however. Usually, gamers want to be very active instead of watch things happen.



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  • 9
    occasional.comments says:

    Any game in which you design your own creature is by definition “intelligent design”. Therefore if you want to promote the idea of evolution and not intelligent design, you have to remove all player control from the mutations, and, ideally, the initial creature design. That leaves the problem “What does the player do?”.

    I suggest you could have the player log in periodically and do something to affect the environmental parameters. When you join the game, you get given a random organism (perhaps slightly different from the simplest one already existing in the game), whose descendents mutate and evolve under natural selection. You would monitor how many descendents survived and try to influence the environment to promote your family tree and eliminate the family trees of the other players. Maybe you could earn points somehow, perhaps depending on how well your family tree is surviving, or how often you log in,  which you spend on these environmental influences. This could be things like climate change, or sometimes catastrophic events like comet impacts. Depends on what sort of scale you are modelling things ( a planet or just a pond of primordial soup).

    Then you have the question of how to set up the interaction between genes, environment and other organisms to produce the chances of survival and also to allow complexity to increase (i.e. your survival model has to be able to handle genomes of ever-increasing complexity). You also need to think about how much to translate that into something that makes sense to players and how much to leave as something purely mathematical.



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  • 10
    rjohn19 says:

    Well, the game has to be fun to get bought and played, yet stay on message.¬† I have two ideas and I’ll start with the silliest.

    To do it your way, keep it somewhat true and yet give the player some control, you’d have to make it a bit salaciously anthropomorphic¬†and let the player selectively breed (“Look at the tail on that flagellum!”) and then come up with funny consequences for their choices from success to extinction.¬†

    Didn’t think you’d like that.¬† Okay, here is my A idea.¬† You stay true to the facts but make the game about finding those facts.

    Depict a futuristic¬†despotic society ruled by high priests of a god unknown to us today with most of today’s culture lost to some war or calamity.¬† If you want to get really out there, they could be from another planet here¬†to a now uninhabited earth to mine minerals, noticing similarites to their home planet.

    They¬†accidentally unearth a small town and after jumping through a few gaming hoops, get to the library or the private library of some (to them) ancient professor and come across partially destroyed volumes- one of which is the Bible¬†and another is¬†Darwin’s O of S.¬† They’ll need to find a globe or Atlas¬†as well.¬†

    The hero (player) notices the similarities between his religion and Earth’s but the few legible pages from Darwin leave him mystified.¬† There is much less speciation on his planet (or ours in the far future) and the soil composition (this is why I like the galactic version) does not preserve fossils.

    He can travel anywhere almost instantly.  He learns from this archive Darwin was from England and that is his first stop.  After more digging there, he is off to the Islands named for a large turtle (where is that sarcasm font when I need it?).

    You can adventure the player through virtually all the evindence (from finding fossils and having puzzles to spot patterns to stumbling across DNA research), have the hero reach the inevitable conclusion, convince others (clearly not Americans) of the truth and lead a rebellion to overthrow the high priests.

    Shouldn’t take you much more than 5 or 6 years to develop- hope you are young and healthy.¬† If I’m still around, I’ll buy it.¬†¬†¬†

         



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  • 11
    NH King says:

    Perhaps rather than messing with the life form itself, you can alter the environment and let the life adapt? This is something humans are really doing, so it would be informative, and it will still allow evolution to occur in a very realistic manner.

    The game would give every player the same ‘first life’ single cell in the same environment. Then the player gets to freeze the whole planet, burn the whole planet, perhaps do half and half… I don’t know how hard it would be to sort all of the complex algorithms that dictate a planet’s weather, but I think unintended consequences to, say, an upward nudge in temperature would make a game more interesting. The idea is that the life will have to adapt to such changes or die, and the player doesn’t get to decide that outcome.

    It could be multi-player, too, in a way. There could be a space travel option. The player doesn’t need intelligent life to have formed on the player planet, it could just be careless tourists accidentally carrying hitchhikers; again a phenomenon here on earth with real life evolutionary consequences. Then players can import exotic species from a friend’s planet and see which heritage will win.

    I think such a game will not only teach the idea of evolution, but will also emphasize the importance of understanding evolution as we alter the climate and import/export invasive and other exotic species about the globe.



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  • 12
    Ryan the Bold says:

    Your idea sounds fun in and of itself; reminds me of the Civilization franchise, wherein one gets to choose adaptive responses to long-term environmental factors, and watch the population “evolve” over time. I would play this.

    If I may also submit my own twist on the concept: obviously, you can’t have a game without there being interactivity, so people’s misgivings about the player controlling the evolutionary process must allow for some leeway in that department.

    Since the point of the game is to get the concept of natural selection across to the player – that it’s really the blind forces of nature that shape creatures, regardless of what “choices” those creatures make – I submit the following idea: instead of giving the player any control whatsoever over an organism, give them power over the environment. Present some kind of randomly-generated world that’s crawling with various species of primitive life, and task the player with “molding” a species to have some specific trait (or set of traits, once they get more advanced).¬†

    For example: the player is tasked with “evolving” a species that has a lot of fur. Of the player’s many options, an obvious one would be to lower the temperature. But not too much, and not too quickly, or you’ll kill everything! One of the cruel (but fun!) lessons the player will learn (and what most affected me when evolution sunk in as a child) is how much collateral extinction has to happen to result in a single surviving species. Imagine if, having painstakingly evolved their species, the player is later tasked with evolving one with completely opposing requirements. They’ll have to risk annihilating what (hopefully) they’ve grown attached to in the interest of a new generation of life.

    I wish I had your job, because whatever you end up designing, I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun!



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  • 13
    george.gividen says:

    NH King had mentioned altering the environment, this would indeed be very helpful in fulfilling the educational needs, by which environment is the catalyst of evolution. You are however, still creating, and modifying this environment, thus going back to the “god” issue. You could instead have the player take control of the creature, in a virtual world, full of the environmental and climatic diversity that you might find here on earth. ¬†This would then allow the creatures evolution to be dependent on the journey the player decides to take through this world. ¬†If resources allowed, you could even consider allowing the process to begin on other planets distinct from our own in gravity, topography, therefore altering the way in which a creature evolves.¬†



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  • 16
    Neal O'Kelly says:

    I’m with NH King – Maninulating the environment, not the organism is far truer to life.¬† Game-play might be a bit dull though!¬† george.gividen is absolutley wrong though – there’s no “god issue” with manipulating environments.¬† We do it all the time in petri dishes.



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  • 19
    SaganTheCat says:

    I think one problem with an evolution game is that there’s a player so doesn’t really dispense with the idea of god

    i like the idea of spore but having read reviews i understand it’s a very weak and rather linear¬†interpretation of evolution.

    i think it’d be a good thing if a game was created that let you play god. you start with a hadean era style new planet and can either leave it to evolve or decide to do god-lie things such as redirect the odd asteroid to collide or control the amount of various chemicals being belched from volcanoes.

    the thing that i think would appeal is that evolution exists precicely because no ONE is controlling it but kids love to do grusome stuff like creating extinciton events but regardless of if a child is brought up to believe there is or isn’t a god, it would give them an idea of what it’s like to be god (the sort that can summon up a disaster at a whim) and how impossible it is to predict what the outcome will be. a gentle nudge towards deism if you like.

    as a dispassionate god, just curious to see what happens, the game would be great fun, as a biblical god, trying to create a race of people in your own image who then go on to use their leisure time to worship you on the other hand, would be infuriatingly difficult and would leave the player wondering why the hell any deity with all this power would even think about caring what one species thinks of his/her creation.



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  • 20
    Nerevarine says:

    I’d like to expand on george-gividen’s idea, of the player taking control of the creature.

    What if this was one of those massively-multiplayer online games?

    When you join, your randomly assigned to be a “child” of an existing, surviving creature – a direct copy, plus a small mutation. Your job is simply to survive in an extremely harsh world, with too few resources so that some players simply cannot survive. The longer a player can survive, the more “offspring” he’s likely to have as new players join / rejoin after they’ve died. Having a large number of offspring could grant the player some sort of boon (e.g., experience points to be spent on upgrades to your creature or environment?).

    If the world is dynamic, with many different environments such that mutations that are beneficial in one may be detrimental in another, this would help encourage the creation of whole new “species”. Players would be able to see first-hand how new species develop, as different groups of the same species begin to diverge through mutation as they try to live in different parts of the world, under different environments.



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  • 21
    Nerevarine says:

    What? I can post a comment immediately, but if I want to edit my comment (to fix a spelling mistake), I have to wait to get it approved?



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  • ¬†I love the idea.¬† I teach a high school class in Evolution and have always been interested in a fun sim-like game.¬†

    Some thoughts: 

    1. The comments about Spore are dead on…way to much user control etc.¬† Nothing at all like natural selection.¬†¬† Spore can be useful as an educationally but only as a creature creating tool.¬†¬† I always end my class with a project where students need to make a movie demonstrating knowledge of natural selection and speciation.¬† Students use the Spore creatures and screen video capture to animate their ideas.¬†

    2. This game you are dreaming up would be amazing as a massive multiplayer online game.¬† Think World of Warcraft only a constantly evolving world where everyone’s “characters” are constantly evolving in response to each other.¬†¬†

    3. You need to stress the idea of competition within a species.¬† This might be a way to have some player control without players “designing”¬† their species.¬† Players can “control” certain individuals of their populations that have random mutations that the player thinks are cool.¬† Those individuals, being player controlled, might have a survival advantage over computer controlled members.¬†¬†

    Good luck to you!  I have always thought this could be an incredible game if done correctly.



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  • 23
    Skooter says:

    As far as I can see, you would only be able to use such a program to teach the process of evolution through natural selection, but not abiogenisis.¬† You’d have to start with a pre-existing creature which would leave the door open for creationists to say “see, it didn’t create itself… it needed a Creator!”

    But to strictly teach evolution and leave abiogenesis out of the question would still be quite useful.¬† I doubt it would win any “converts” because indoctrinated parents wouldn’t dare allow their indoctrinated kids to play such a game, but it would still be great for teaching the wonders of evolution.¬† If nothing else, it could pique their interest enough that they find themselves reading into it more and more.

    The idea reminds me of the program called Swimbots (http://www.swimbots.com) where you can adjust things like the production rate of food, the desires of the swimbots, etc.¬† You can also directly adjust their genes but the result is usually not as elegant as the product of letting them evolve on their own.¬† You can leave the program running in the background for days at a time.¬† It’s fun to wake up in the morning and see how your creatures have evolved overnight.

    The biggest shortfall with Swimbots is that the creatures cannot eat or kill each other, which completely leaves out the “arms race” factor of evolution.¬† I think that something similar to Swimbots but much more robust would be the way to go.¬† The first level would be simple organisms swimming around, much like swimbots.¬† Perhaps with each level of the game, you’d “zoom out” a little… first you’d have multi-celled organisms, then they’d start developing appendages, etc.¬† Eventually you have fish swimming around, and ultimately land creatures.¬† Maybe the land creatures could even go back to the water and become whales and dolphins.¬† The user would be able to control the likelihood of things like asteroids and comets hitting the planet, gas levels in the atmosphere, temperatures, rate of genetic mutations, etc.¬† And definitely have a way to fast-forward time.¬† Once you get everything set, you could click a button and watch the centuries fly by to see the changes.

    The key is that you’d have to leave a lot of it up to chance, otherwise you’re defeating the purpose.



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  • I wrote a small fantasy on this idea. I hope it helps your cause!

    GOD IS DEAD – Review by staff
    Game by
    EWON GRAL
    Published by
    DIGITAL ARTISTS
    2031

    I would be hard-pressed to call “GOD is dead” a videogame. It is not. It
    is really not. The subject matter is evolution. Many game designers
    tried to create a game about evolution, but had to fail because of the
    very nature of evolution itself.
    Let’s recap our understanding of
    evolution. It is not random, but directed. It is a mix of natural
    selection and mutation […snip…] Every game failed, because as soon
    as you put interactivity into the evolution process, you put in some
    form of “Intelligent Design”, which is the total opposite of evolution.
    GOD is the paradigm of “Intelligent Design”. So instead of a game about
    evolution, we get always a variation of a god game, where the player
    takes the role of DOG. This is not what Ewon Gral was looking for. In
    many interviews he defined his goal very clear: To create a game about
    evolution that does not betray the very concept of evolution. It is the
    great paradox of game design (according to Mr. Gral).

    The game
    starts at the very beginning. You are GOD, the Unknown Entity, The
    Superbeing etc.. Time: Zero time. Big Bang Time. Whatever you want to
    call the start of the universe. Wait? The player plays GOD in a game
    about evolution. WTF. You
    sit in front of THE MACHINE. You turn some
    knobs, you decide the six numbers, which define our universe: D, the
    number of macroscopic dimensions; őĶ, the energy release of four protons
    when fused to helium; ő©, the ratio of the actual density of the
    universe; etc … You are the superbeing. You jump around in time. You
    observe the universe. If you are dissatisfied with your results, then
    you change the SIX NUMBERS over and over again. You create life. You
    design life. You play with DNA. You can mess around at any stage of the
    universe, at any time. You intervene. You punish. You help. You see
    civilizations rise and fall by your hand. BAM – the game crashes to the
    desktop.

    This is not how it works. You restart the game (you
    hope the game saved your progress after 40 hours of play). It has
    changed. You are not the superbeing, dog, god etc… there is no
    intelligent design at the start of the game. You do not turn knobs,
    because there are no knobs (the progress was not saved). In this phase
    of the game, you observe, you experience. You see nature unfold. Very
    slowly. In small steps over billion of years. You feel awe. Your role
    was solely to restart the game. You were nothing more than the first
    spark, the original cause. You feel satisfied. You see how life created
    itself through the laws of physics. You see civilizations rise and fall.
    You watch people worshipping you. BAM – the game crashes to the
    desktop.

    This is not how it works. You restart the game (you hope
    the game saved your progress after another 40 hours of observation). It
    did not. It has changed. The screen is black and it stays black. There
    is no sound, no celestial music. Your computer is running, but you
    cannot interact, you cannot experience anything. You know that the game
    is running, something is going on, you know it, you check the task
    manager in your computer. The CPUs are all running on 100%. You are
    excluded. You get angry. You stay angry for another 40 hours. BAM – the
    game crashes to the desktop.

    This is not how it works. You
    restart the game. No you don’t. You can’t. You can’t restart the fucking
    game. THIS IS HOW IT WORKS.

    10/10



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  • 25
    useells says:

    It must have a whole bunch of¬†crashes and explosions and degrees of difficulty (complexity), with¬†some luck and¬†some survival of the “good enough” leading to a success (winning), but just for now.



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  • 26
    Ornicar says:

    Hello,

    I’m a game developper too and I often thought about a game about evolution. Every time, I’m confronted with this major flaw : “The player would have to incarnate… God”.

    Suggesting that evolution is anyhow guided would not do any good to the teaching of evolution.

    And if you really simulate a darwinian evolution, that’s going to be a very contemplative game. As D.Dennett put it, “With evolution, gods might as well be sound asleep”.

    Note that management games deal with the same problem. Even though most of them promote implicitly liberal economy and free market, the player is always incarnating an omnipotent dictator who will “create a blacksmith”, fund entertainement or store in state warehouses the total production of all the lumberjacks he “owns”.

    So I think teaching √©volution through a computer game would be more to the point if dealing with artificial selection, like farming or dogs breeding. There is a very good example of this in an early R.Dawkins’s video, available on uTube. It’s a science program, in 4 parts, where RD shows some science to an audience of children. It’s brillant. A some point, he gets participants to select 1 picture of insect out of 9, according to whatever criteria they like. If you choosed long legged, the next batch will be “rather long legged” and so on. You can get really wierd beasties after a few generations. But that’s artificial, man-made, selection.

    A game could be about breeding dogs. At start, you choose your goals like making very fat dogs, very small ones, very fluffy ones and 6 legged ones, and then, each turn, you choose in your livestock which males and females will breed to reach thoses goals over generations.

    EDIT: Got an idea, here, reading previous posts concerning human alterations of the selective pressure.

    Let’s say, you’re a gardener : You have flowers and bugs. Bugs eat flowers. You want to kill bugs but spare flowers.
    You can use poison. Poison kills bugs, but also kills flowers.

    All bugs and flowers are different.
    Each Bug object has3 properties : Poison resistance, reproduction rate, damage to flowers.
    Each flower object has 4 properties : Poison resistance, growth rate, bug resistance, beauty.

    Each new bug or flower is slightly different from it’s parents.

    Optionally, phenotype can give vague indications of genotype (redder bugs do more damage, bluer bugs resist better to poison…)

    You can change the size of the spray when you spray poison, so you can act more or less locally.

    You can upgrade poison. You sell flowers to buy stronger poison. The flower’s “beauty” property is used to set its selling price.

    Your goal is to produce the best flowers while avoiding creating resistant bugs.

    Note that there is a natural selection between bugs and flowers, and that human interaction comes on top of that, as a third player. If you do nothing, the bugs might eat all the flowers.

    (Variation : You might as well set wolf traps in a sheep park to see if you kill more wolves than sheep. Tricky.)



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  • 27
    ShinobiYaka says:

    Maybe a bit of lateral thinking might help, technically any ‚Äúgame‚ÄĚ ¬†requires the direct involvement of the player, which in this instance leads to the issues highlighted above, the problem revolves around the basic mechanics, the expectation of the player even in ¬†games that have emergent gameplay is participation, they would want to influenced the outcome either directly or indirectly.

    A toy or simulation on the other hand is often used just for pleasure, an example of the difference is a train set as opposed to a game of chess, there have been several games based on ‚Äúpets‚ÄĚ, maybe a game could be thought of that provides an environment where evolution takes place ‚Äúnaturally‚ÄĚ and the player has the ability to take specimens for comparison, maybe store them in their own natural history museum, Take digital photos or swap their samples with other players, data screens might highlight certain advantages that have developed, sort of like an ant farm but one that develops over time, random events and competitors challenging the players developing species.

    Just a thought…



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  • 28
    Helen Pluckrose says:

    My daughter would be very interested in this. She enjoys a very simple game linked on Charlie’s Playhouse in which you get to select the characteristics of a few fictional mammals and then generations pass before the game randomly changes the environment. The idea is to try to get your species to survive by having a variety of traits so some will survive if gets hotter or colder or new predators move closer etc. Your’s sounds more interesting and I do not think it would be too complicated for children but very useful if each stage were explained clearly. Exciting idea!



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  • 29
    LinguisticApe says:

    Never mind kids, I’d play this kind of game all the time! I played the previously mentioned Swimbots a bit, but its quite basic. A more advanced version of that would be very interesting indeed.



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  • 30
    RationalConclusion says:

    I think that teaching evolution by way of natural selection through the medium of a computer game is a great idea in theory ¬†but in practice I think it’s something that would be very difficult to do well.



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  • 31
    shannon6 says:

     I like this idea. Evolution can be an abstract or unfamilar concept. A game that gives the player a first-hand feel forthe process would be a good thing.

    There were some concerns expressed about kids getting the idea that there is an intelligent force behind evolution.  Personally, I think that concern is no reason to toss out your idea, and that the game would do more good than harm.

    However, if you were interested in minimizing the potential for the player to replicate a “creator,” you could try things like:

    – make sure that of the range of mutations available to the player, only a very few aid in survival, or

    – give the player control over the environmental changes, rather than the random mutations occuring in the organisms



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  • Rather than letting players make decisions on their creatures (which, as some have pointed out, doesn’t make sense evolutionary speaking), here’s a different mechanic that keeps it a game but captures it better:

    At the start of the game, you see a bunch of organisms going about their daily lives as one-celled thingies. You observe for a bit as the enviroment changes around and the creatures breed, mutate, and die. Then, you receive a giant marker and have to ‘tag’ creatures.
    The longer the tagged creatures survive and mutate, the more points you get. At any point you can ‘untag’ a creature that you feel is mutating the wrong way so that you can mark another which you consider more likely to survive.

    This way players have no say in how the creatures evolve and mutate, but it is merely their goal to find the most likely candidates for survival.



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  • Sounds interesting, the big problem, as others¬† have said, is that as the player is an intelligent designer, it’s not natural selection.

    Now if you were to play as the environment, rather than the creature;¬† you could be challenged to modify the environment so that the creatures evolve/survive …¬† allowing the creatures to evolve completely independently of the player.

    Probably not as much fun though.

    One word of caution, from experience.¬†Life is cunning, even artificial life, it will exploit any bugs in your code to its own advantage¬†almost instantly,¬† which makes coding artificial life really fun, but very challenging¬†ūüôā



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  • 35
    Markovicblue says:

    I would suggest¬†completely¬†different approach that would turn creationists into epic scale ridicule and/or absurd. Idea would be to create a game that follows as many as possible religions that existed or still exist in the World. Why? Point would be that game would make players use religion that they don’t take as their own, and do unavoidable – spread disaster. Like, first time they play the game they¬†may¬†choose religion, but second time game chooses for them and never chooses previous one. It would be interesting to follow the work of judeo-chrtstianic-islamic religions on creation of humans in my opinion. Player would have the “tools of a God” but the task is to follow exact what in the holy book is written. It would be very interesting to make game they have to obey “Ten Commandments” and put them in period of Inquisition and Crusades. Hard core controversy I know but it would question things in them. This inner struggle could lead them to revolt in 2 ways:

    1) against their beliefs and search alternative Рscience and evolution
    2) against game developers – there are people you simply can’t reach



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  • 36
    Lumine says:

    Actually there are games out there that ridicule religion to the extreme (but often even unnoticed and subconscious).

    Final Fantasy would be such a game, where in every single Final Fantasy game the player has to stand up agains a cult or a god and in the end defeat it.
    It’s really funny to tell that a fan of the series. First they wonder and when they replay it and pay attention it’s almost shocking how anti-religous Square Enix is (which is good). Oh and btw. they are ridiculing everything, not just christianity, but all the other religions too.

    They are like an Atheist Game Developer ūüėÄ



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