I admit that when I learned about Spore, the new game out from Electronic Arts, I really wanted to get myself a copy. It’s a great creation, with an engine for the creation of a huge range of bizarre creatures that look really spiffy, and a broad-ranging application for letting those creatures go, to populate a world and eventually invade foreign worlds that other Spore users have created. Even just looking at the Spore Creature Creator, I was impressed, and found the whole experience to be a whole lot of fun.
But, when it came to actually getting and using Spore, it wasn’t so easy. It turns out that my best computer, which was top of the line just two years ago, isn’t good enough to run the program. A lot of brand new computers that you’d get off the shelf right now aren’t powerful enough to handle Spore, it turns out.
So, I could go ahead and enhance my computer, with yet more additional memory and graphics cards. That would end up costing several hundred dollars, plus the cost of the Spore software itself. For a short while, I was tempted to try to find a way to go that route.
Then I considered what I was doing. Spending hundreds of dollars on this game meant spending a lot of time working, just for the privilege of playing around with pretend monsters on screen. With the economy the way it is, that felt like an extremely irresponsible choice. I realized that there was a low-cost alternative that’s always been available to me: Getting out a pencil, and drawing a creature on the back of a piece of paper in my recycling bin.
Using my imagination, or a piece of less costly software, I can even animate the drawing.
The issue is about a lot more than just a way to be frugal with limited amounts of money. It’s about the responsibility we take for our own urge to create. Who are you going to let be the creature creator? Will it be you doing the creating, or will you need to hire the software super geniuses over at Electronic Arts to give you a paint-by-numbers canvas?
Post Script: If you’re suspecting that this is all some kind of rationalization for the fact that I don’t have enough money these days to just go off and buy software like Spore, well, then you’ve got a really good point. But, I say that it’s going to take a lot of rationalizations, including a lot of sour grapes, to get us through these lean times, and if we can use this as an opportunity to spark the renewal of our culture, so much the better, I say.