The latest issue of the Escapist deals with god games, most of which are quite grand in scale. John Carr, however, looks at the micro god game — in this case, SimAnt, Will Wright's first foray into games decidedly small in scale — and declares its inspiration (childhood games of playing god with hapless insect) the 'original god game.' SimAnt is certainly one of the weirder little titles in Wright's repertoire, but certainly an important title when looking at later games:
... Will Wright continued to think about what else he could do now that he had discovered this new scale. If people messed around with ants and kept ant farms because, on a certain level, it was easy to see ourselves in them, why not make a digital "people farm"? This, of course, led to the ant-farm-by-way-of-doll-house know as The Sims, the best-selling PC game of all time.
Through these games, Wright struck upon something essential in humanity. Messing with ants is the original "god game." Software simulations are both an extension and a refinement of this behaviour. They let us focus our frustrations and desires onto something smaller than ourselves, something over which we can feel supremely powerful. We can single out a few digital people and decide if we want to make their day heaven or hell. Or we can simply watch them go about their tasks, gently nudging them along, content in the knowledge that we have the power to tear it all down at any moment. For beings that often feel powerless in the face of a vast, harsh universe, this is extremely cathartic.
The whole issue is a fun read, with essays on a variety of god game-related subjects.
A God Among Insects [The Escapist]