[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Better Than Being God

August 4th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

SimEarth God Ad - TurboDuo - 1993Michelangelo is turning in his grave (eager to play SimEarth, of course).

SimEarth: “It’s kinda like being God, except the graphics are better.”

If I recall SimEarth in general, it was kind of a dud: after excitedly buying it for the PC upon its release, my brother returned it within a few days, disappointed. I personally have never played it much, nor have I tried the TurboDuo version. But if it has better graphics than being God, then maybe I should give it a second chance.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What role, if any, should religion have in video games?

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10 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Better Than Being God”

  1. Layne Says:

    I think religion has found it’s place already…..there are games tailored towards the religious (these need to get better as games without leaving their religion behind) and there are games that have religious influence in terms of belief systems or backstory or what have you.

    As source material, it works well because of how large a volume of material there is and that everyone already has some level of understanding of it. Games that teach religion have failed so far because the games have not gone beyond “preachy” which turns off the typical “entertain me” gamer.

    As an aside: did anyone else notice that Gaia was referred to as masculine in this ad? Every other reference I know of is feminine.

    The full link includes the parentesis, but not sure how the parser will handle it.


  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    I noticed the Gaia thing too, Layne. I thought it was odd.

  3. Jurgi Says:

    Maybe some sexual games? “Be the Sacred Spirit! Seduce Mary the Virgin and procreate the Messiah!” 😛

    Religion in video games? I think Angry Video Game Nerd have pointed this well in the movie with bible games. 😉

  4. Kitsunexus Says:


  5. Brendon Says:

    Despite the misleading ad, SimEarth was nothing about being a god, or at least the religious side of it. As I recall it was basically about controlling the weather. This sounds cool in principle, but in effect it was just pulling levers for rain and pulling others to dispense pigs, which you had to ‘pay’ some kind of ‘mana’ for. I mean, you could control the mixtures of atmospheric gas to .001%. Its like playing god– if god was an accountant.

  6. Esteban Says:

    I miss the old Maxis games, before they were bought by EA. SimCity 2000 is still my all-time favorite.

    That said. SimEarth is indeed a dud. I much prefer SimFarm or SimTower.

  7. Rockin' Kat Says:

    I remember seeing SimCity at a friends house on his dad’s Mac Plus and thinking about how cool it was.

    I also remember seeing SimEarth at same friends house on same Mac Plus and thinking of how much I’d rather be playing SimCity.

  8. Geoff V. Says:

    Religion in video games?
    To equivocate, it has its place. More money has been spent on religion than any other endeavor save war.
    I see “religious” games fitting into one of three categories: religion as afterthought, game as instructional/memorization aid, and religious themed gameplay. Of the three, religious themed gameplay is the hardest to pull-off well, but has the highest chance to make it into mainstream markets.
    As a child I remember playing a game where the player was a Moses sprite who could “convert” sinners by shooting bibles at them. The sinners turned into crosses after they were converted. This despite the fact that crucifixion wasn’t used for thousands of year later.

  9. Layne Says:

    Geoff, that sounds humorous. Jews weren’t so much into the whole conversion thing at that time because you pretty much had to be born into it…..and your point about the cross, too. And that isn’t to even ask if the Bible you shot included the New Testament.


  10. Jacques Says:

    I bought this game when it came out in the early ’90’s and LOVED it!

    You controlled not just the weather but ALL enviromental aspects of Gaia. For example you controlled mountain formation, oceans size and location and a wide assortment of life ranging from one celled organisms to dinosaurs to sentient life forms. (This includes intelligent plants, dinosaurs and any other life form that you can think of).

    The ‘game’ had no goal as such; you simply tried to evolve one celled organisms to more advanced life forms and finally to life forms able to build spaceships and leave Earth (Gaia).

    You could also control (or set to random), all sorts of disasters such as comets crashing into Earth (usful for creating oceans and random life), Earthquakes, runaway greenhouse gases, global wildfires, melting polar ice caps etc.

    The ‘game’ was more of a virtual laboratory allowing you to test diffferent scenerios (sic?) involving enviromental change, (random or controlled by you), and their effects on the evolution of various life forms.

    I remember evolving dinosaurs into creatures intelligent enough to build starships. I also evolved intelligent plants!

    I also remember the manual was something like 300+ pages long. It was a complex game to learn but (at least for me), well worth the effort.

    As for religion, their was no mention of ‘God’ or any other deity as I recall. This was a scientific sandbox type of ‘game’, nothing more.

    The only downside of SimEarth were the graphics; the creatures and plants were small and difficult to see and the control buttons (especially at high res VGA), were a real pain.

    You can still find the game on some Abandonware sites. Well worth playing if you’re into ‘what if’ scientific expermentation

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