CNN Reports on Sporn

| 1 Aug 2008 10:37

CNN has a story about a new plague slowly spreading across the Earth, a digital scourge known as Sporn.

Sporn - short for "Spore porn" - is the inevitable result of releasing to the general public content-generation tools that allow for the creation of simulated biological creatures. While we here at The Escapist had discussed the "time to cock" phenomenon as far back as mid-June, the issue has come to a head and attracted the attention of major mainstream news outlet CNN. In its report, CNN described the proliferation of anatomically-hilarious creatures as "the downside of tapping into the booming user-generated content arena."

"Whether it's modeling clay, dolls or crayons, a small number of people can be counted on to use it for something vulgar," said Spore Executive Producer Lucy Bradshaw. She said that once EA discovered the existence of Sporn, it joined with YouTube to pull the user-created videos as they came up, issuing warnings, suspensions and ultimately bans to repeat offenders.

The response left some people unhappy, however, including a 37-year-old Creature Creator user who calls himself the Spornmaster. "It was a totally ridiculous overreaction," he said. "I admit it is silly and juvenile, but I don't think there's anything perverted, vile or awful about it. If people find it offensive, they can simply not search for it online. No one is forcing anyone to see this content."

In fact, EA is implementing a filtering system to ensure people get only the Sporn they want. Spore will include three options for accepting user-generated content over the course of the game: To ignore it completely, to take content only from people on a buddy list, or to receive all external content. Miles Moffit, a student at the University of Georgia who has created numerous "clean" Spore creatures of his own, is a fan of the filtering system. "My initial reaction to discovering [Sporn] in my final game would be to ban it so it wouldn't show up again and then blow it to pieces for the sheer satisfaction of it," he said. "Go ahead, create a walking phallus. See how long it lasts in the databases and galaxies of Spore."

EA does, in fact, have content moderation for Spore creatures, as evidenced by the mid-June banning of Boobalicious, a creature built by PC Gamer Editor-in-Chief Kristen Salvatore in response to the flood of giant penis monsters generated in the early days of the Creature Creator release. And while the company has presumably tweaked its moderation policies since then (and likely continues to do so), isn't it interesting that two of the earliest high-profile examples of Sporn - including a call for the first Spore giant penis monster ever created - came from videogame magazine editors? The full CNN report on the evils of Sporn can be read here.

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