Will Wright says that while the creative team behind Spore took pains to avoid offending religious groups with the game's evolutionary themes, they did receive some unexpected criticism from atheists.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Wright said the development team had a number of members who were "pretty religious," and that while including the concept of religion in the game was important, they wanted to ensure they weren't causing offense to any religious people or groups. Describing himself as an atheist, he said, "I see a lot of benefit and danger in religion like anything. I think our bigger fear was that we didn't want to offend any religious people; but looking at the discussion that unfolded from this thing, what we had was a good sizable group of players that we might call militant atheists, and the rest of the players seemed very tolerant, including all of the religious players."
"And most of the atheists were very tolerant as well," he continued. "I didn't expect to hit hot buttons on the atheist side as much; I expected it on the religious side. But so far I've had no critical feedback at all from anybody who is religious feeling that we were misrepresenting religion or it was bad to represent religion in the game. It was really the atheists!"
Wright also said that unlike The Sims, he's been trying to think of Spore "less as a product and more as a franchise or brand" in relation to future possibilities for the game. "Whereas The Sims we kept expanding vertically, we kept selling expansion packs to the same customers over and over, I think Spore we want to say what other kinds of experiences, activities, formats, media can we bring Spore out. And at that point you have to say, what does the brand mean?" he said.
"And that's where we've been thinking about Spore - as this brand that's the intersection of creativity and science," he continued. "Science is an inherently interesting thing: A lot of the time it's not presented that interestingly. If you look at documentaries on cable television - if you're into that science it's kind of fun to watch. And there's some pretty good science shows for kids, but aren't that many fast-paced, really intelligent, very visual things for adults that feel like entertainment. That's the kind of direction I want Spore to move in."
Will Wright's full interview with Eurogamer can be read here.