You know the mod scene is really taking off for a particular game when it gets a nickname. In this case, though, Maxis and EA aren’t thrilled about the online moniker given to the Spore modding scene. “Sporn” may be accurate when you look at some of the explicit creations floating around the web, but it isn’t the most media-friendly name for a game aimed at all ages.
Yes, Will Wright’s fantastically addictive evolution simulation has been co-opted by creative pervs who have gotten so tired of the real porn on the internet that they’ve gone off and made their own fake stuff. Horrors! And man, evolution and sex in the same game? Jeez, nobody tell Sarah Palin or her head will explode.
EA, of course, has gone into crisis mode. Somebody at EA corporate with way too much time on his or her hands judged that all user-made content deemed to be lewd and/or lascivious would be deleted from the online Sporepedia, the official site where Spore players are encouraged to share their creations—well, their G-rated creations—with the world at large.
But is this really a big deal? Overreaction to any combination of game + naughty bits is par for the course in the post–Hot Coffee era, although going so far as to ban Spore creatures with penises is more likely to court controversy, not stifle it. There is no better way to get the mainstream media huffing and puffing over more “Won’t somebody think of the children?” nonsense. Not that the ban is working, anyhow. Spore gamers are just uploading Sporn movies to YouTube and other video-sharing sites. Sorry, EA, this genie is out of the lamp, he’s not going back in, and surprise, he’s not wearing pants!
Nor should he put any on. Gaming is never going to grow up if publishers react to every sex story by throwing their hands up in the air. All these over-the-top responses do is reinforce the notion that gaming is for kiddies and shouldn’t ever be combined with mature content. Granted, a Spore take on Goatse (no, I’m not giving you the link) isn’t exactly what I would call mature. Still, you have to take the good with the bad, and it doesn’t seem all that tough to accept that people are using an evolution sim to depict sex. The two kind of go hand in hand, don’t they?
Gaming industry bigwigs can’t go ballistic about stuff like Sporn and then get all outraged when Australia bans Fallout 3 or school boards in Canada try to get Bully pulled from the shelves. While I can understand why EA wants to keep graphic sex mods out of its Sporepedia, it should have been quieter about removing them, and somebody with the company should have taken the time to laugh the whole thing off with a “boys will be boys” comment.
An attitude that sex and gaming are verboten is becoming entrenched in the greater public mind. And that’s a very bad thing for those of us who want to see gaming get past the stigma of being for kids only and evolve into an accepted adult pastime. Taking a stand here, even a small one, would have been best for both Spore and for gaming as a whole in the long run.
MOD OF THE MONTH
(Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas)
GTA IV may be just about to arrive on the PC, but spare a few minutes for your old pal, C.J. Roman Bellic’s predecessor is front and center in Gostown Paradise for GTA: San Andreas, a total conversion that turns Los Santos and its neighbors into a metropolis on a gorgeous tropical island. It’ll be a while before the mod is finished, although it’s worth a look now if only to cruise around and gape at the island scenery.
October 22, 2008