Spore

Common Sense Media says

This exceptional evolution sim is a masterpiece.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The game lets you customize a character from scratch, including their eating habits (carnivore, herbavore or omnivore) and those early decisions have an impact on your creature's social behavior throughout the game. All of your actions have consequences, so that your previous actions will affect interactions with new species. If you have been a war-mongering species, and then decide to try to build alliances, new species may not trust you.

Ease of play

The game is easy to learn.

Violence

The game can be played passively or aggressively. In the latter, when creatures battle each other for food or territory, they can kill or eat another creature. Some mild cartoon violence is shown with blood, but there are no details. Creatures will fall over and die. In the primordial soup stage, a red explosion (depicting blood) is shown when you eat another. Combat goals can include killing off enough of another species so as to cause genocide.

Sex

Creatures can mate, but you only see dancing under floating pink hearts.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this game features some mild violence and blood, specifically pertaining to fighting against other creatures. The violence is shown thorough cartoonish graphics which lack of any real detail. You can be tasked with killing enough of another species as to cause genocide. The game also lets you "mate" with others but you only see the two swooning together with tasteful floating hearts. Consequences of your actions is a big part of the gameplay, so that aggressive behavior does have a cost. The online aspect of this game allows you to send the creatures you create into the Spore universe to help populate the game for others playing it and vice versa. While the Spore universe is monitored, parents worried about the creativity of others when making creatures that might appear to be sexual or offensive (know as "Sporn") can opt to turn off the online aspects. This is a game in which you are in control of a species' evolution.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology
  • ecosystems
  • life cycle

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • strategy

Creativity

  • making new creations

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Kids will return to their favorite stages to create design after design using the game’s intuitive tools. These creatures are a hoot to watch.

Learning Approach

Decision-making is based more on players’ wants rather than on learning scientific, economic, or political principles. But there is lots to explore about digital creation and design.

Support

Each stage begins with a tutorial, and the game keeps track of the player’s history and progress.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology
  • ecosystems
  • life cycle

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • strategy

Creativity

  • making new creations

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals

Tech Skills

  • digital creation

Kids can learn about organisms' basic needs for survival by foraging or hunting for food as they make decisions about which defensive and predatory adaptations their creatures will use. Kids can also learn about how societies develop over time through exploration, socialization, and violence. Spore lets kids experiment with evolution by designing creatures and learning from their interactions as they grow from organisms into societies.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sansing

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

For a game that's seven years in the making and more than a year past its planned launch, a lot is riding on SPORE, the latest simulation from celebrated game designer Will Wright. Spore might best be described as an evolution simulation. You goal is to create a unique species from scratch and through careful nurturing, interaction with other life forms and developing new technologies, you'll advance through the five main stages, each of which plays out almost as a separate game altogether.

In the Cell Stage, for example, you control a teeny microorganism by navigating through a primordial pond and consuming other cells in a primal survival of the fittest. You'll eventually grow larger, sprout legs and lungs, and venture out onto dry land for the Creature Stage. Now you must explore your environment, hunt for food (you choose whether your creature is a carnivore or herbivore), collect new body parts and other items (used to design a faster or stronger being) and mate with other critters (don't worry, no "act" is seen, other than two beings swooning underneath floating pink hearts). This stage might prove difficult for newbies because even though you follow the onscreen instructions carefully when greeting new species, you can fail to impress other tribes by dancing or singing. Without these alliances, it can take you a while to reach the next stage by hunting alone. The next stages -- Tribal, Civilization, and Space -- are reminiscent of real-time strategy games, where you're collect resources, explore different cultures, and use diplomacy or war to reach your goals.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While not for everyone because of its geeky bioanthropological premise, and it certainly can get challenging despite a clean interface and many helpful tips and hints, EA's Spore is an ingenious concept delivered in near flawless execution. Not only is it hands-down the best computer game of the year so far, but is also one of the deepest and most gratifying titles to grace your monitor in a decade. If only Darwin was alive to see this.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Spore is both a game and a simulation designed to mirror real life, human interaction, and our evolutionary course. Why did you decide to design your creature as you did? If you played as a carnivore, will you go back in a see what it is like to be an herbivore? Did you find that you liked being aggressive or did you spend you time trying to build alliances? What did you think of the collaborative nature of the Sporepedia? Have you seen other creatures that fascinated you?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Nintendo DS, Windows
Price:$49.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:September 7, 2008
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E10+ for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Animated Blood (Mac, Nintendo DS, Windows)

This review of Spore was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 3, 5, and 10 year old Written byTheHarrisfamily April 30, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Best game eva

Its an an awesome game you don't need to worry

What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byANgrantAN July 9, 2011
AGE
5
QUALITY
 

Over-Hyped Mess

Spore looked like a real good game in 2006! It was a deep, and interesting life simulator! Unfortunately, the finished product was none of these things. The game is essentially four half-baked mini-games and a somewhat entertaining sandbox at the end. The first stage is cell stage. You swim around eating stuff. That's it. Creature stage. You run around with ridiculously over-specialized creatures either befriending everyone or killing everyone. It's mindless DNA (XP) grinding. For this, the creature creator is almost fully cosmetic. Your creature has eight legs and eyes on it's back? It performs as if it were a human. Parts are based on stats that don't stack, so you could have a one-legged blob with a couple of stat parts that works exactly the same way as a humanoid creature would. In tribal stage, you either throw concerts with everyone or slaughter your foes until you are the only one left. In Civ stage, you see one of the laziest attempts at an RTS ever. In this stage, you run around preaching, buying, or killing. The end. Now, for the last stage, you have Space. This is actually a sort of OK stage. You fly around doing missions and exploring, which can be a good way to waste hours of potential productivity. Overall, Spore is just a collection of levels, with a mainly cosmetic set of editors. The add-on Galactic Adventures makes the game somewhat more tolerable, but the complexity limit for everything is unacceptable. On the technical side, many computers will be able to handle this game, but the big problem here is the DRM. You can only install this game 3 times. The DRM that enforces this is also a rootkit, which means that it latches on to your computer and can't be removed with anything short of a full wipe of your hard-drive. Since neither the manual nor game box inform the customer of this, EA is illegally installing a rootkit with this game, and in fact two class action lawsuits have been filed against the corporation. To sum everything up, the description for this game given by this website is completely wrong, the game is definitely not worth your money. There's a reason this game has a 4.6/10 aggregate user score on Metacritic.

Teen, 13 years old Written byCrazySense April 21, 2009
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Great game, but the hype is wrong

Will Wright's "Spore" is a good addition to the library of games he's "created"

The story is all created by you besides cutscenes between levels. You control a small microorganism in the first level, eventually growing lungs and going unto land. Here you can make alliances, hunt other animals and mate.

The violence is cartoonish in nature with no blood, so no worries there. As for the "mating" it's just the two creatures dancing under a thing of hearts.

Eventually, you pass the tribal and civil stages to get to the Space Stage, where the game really excells. You can explore planets, make alliances, have wars or buy and sell planets, the eventual goal being to go to the Galactic Center.

Overall a great game with exellent content creators and online sharing. However, the game is almost shallow compared to it's earlier demoes.

Still, a great game.

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