(Walking) Idea Man

I have tons of ideas in my head for posts. In fact, I always carry around at least three notepads in my messenger bag; one of these notepads is dedicated to ideas for this blog (however, as this post shows, I have no schedule for these and will post something as soon as it enters my sights). Last week, via Facebook, I asked my previous professor of theater history to suggest a book to which he had alluded during one of my many courses with him. Lo and behold, ask and you shall receive. It concerns one of the future posts of Fanny Fridays. Performing a quick online search of the Chicago Public Library’s catalog, I found we had the book! At the main branch!

So, last night after work I headed to the downtown area to procure this book. However, instead of using the CTA’s lovely El stop that advertises itself as the Library stop, I wanted to meander and intuit the direction to the library itself. This is a bad idea when you are used to going to your neighborhoods’ libraries and have only visited the main branch to procure your library card and return the books you took out that one time.


By happenstance (and boy, was that a long introduction), I came across something I would not have had I just made my trip and headed home as I originally intended.

So, I was walking down the street and saw this advertisement. At first I completely missed the obvious Spore logo and read the text. “Curious,” thought I, “how this travel ad is targeting my planet, not my country.” I looked at the creature and then realized, “Oh, duh.”

The ad is fairly straight forward and while it hints at the gameplay for anyone who follows games and has known about Spore, I’m not entirely sure the average passerby would know what to make of this. The only real indicators that this is a game are the small EA logo and ESRB rating in the lower right and left hand corners, respectively. In fact, the lack of any gaming indicators in the main image is what caught me by surprise and had me thinking it was just an advertisement for a travel agency of some sort (those types of advertisements proliferate Chicago).

Curious, I gave up my poorly planned trip to the library and began looking to see if any variations on this advertisement showed their faces. Lo and behold!

This time I knew for what I was looking and it stood out to me, even though I passed it as it faced my back in front of the Oriental Theater in Chicago’s ‘Theatre District’ (where I find the least interesting theater in Chicago being performed). Again, if I had no idea what Spore is, I could easily remain ignorant of the logo and ESRB rating and just be curious as to what is staring at me. This one’s text had me in even further thought.

“Composed of matter, anti-matter, and it doesn’t matter.” Huh. I very seriously doubt many are up to the conversation that would occur about the implications and theories behind anti-matter and its purported existence, so I’m assuming they’re going for a typical sci-fi hook here. As for the ‘doesn’t matter, ‘ honestly, I don’t know quite what to make of it, and could throw many theories out there (and shall proceed to pitch two at you).

One school of thought could be that it applies to the scientific principles. After playing Spore, evolution and things of that nature don’t really matter. You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate Spore, and as a scientist, you may not really agree with how it arrives at some of its conclusions and pushes forward the idea of evolution/intelligent design. It also may not matter that matter is involved at all. Relax, enjoy, play a game. It is a game, it is there for your enjoyment, what does it matter what engine is running behind it and of what it may be composed?

But more importantly, the phrase, “Eradicate your perimeters,” seems odd tied to a game made by Will Wright. Now, playing a species that has decided to be religious, I do find it amusing that I essentially proselytize my enemies with magical streams of words and propaganda. There is definitely a war-like path to be had if one desires (and even economic, to which I’ve switched in the Space stage). In fact, it seems that this choice of word wants to capitalize on the possibility of this military violence in the game. Otherwise, it could be transcend, outgrow, cross, or step out of your perimeters. Eradicate is a very weighty, violent word in its connotations.

Given the eradication, perhaps what does not matter is the matter or anti-matter that is not useful to you. Disturbing if that’s true.

Reading these images, though, I’m wondering if they’re advertising the same game I’m playing? Perhaps I’ve just fallen into the deadly trap of overanalyzing advertisements because of my Weltanschauung.

However, Spore is not the only thing that my camera saw fit to capture.


About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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3 Responses to (Walking) Idea Man

  1. A recent Spore Preview in Edge featured a number of those creatures and placard dotted around the pages (None of them featured the tag lines ala “Eradicate your perimeters”) and my initial reaction to the “Matter-Anti-Matter” creature was that it was attempting to play the race card.Ala I’m “half White-Half African American and it doesn’t matter”.

  2. Denis Farr says:

    It’s an interesting thought, especially considering the fact that the player is creating their own hybridizations. Guess I just didn’t see that at all. Curious…There is also the curious fact that one does, in essence, either civilize or commit genocide on other species–both of which would be fascinating to study from a post-colonial viewpoint.

  3. I love your photo of the Red Ball! I was wondering how they would place it at that location.

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