1) The History of SimCity:
SimCity was first published in 1989 by Maxis and was designed by the developer, William Wright. Due to SimCity’s popularity, since it was first published in 1989, there have been numerous editions and spin-offs that have been sold internationally. One example is the computer game named “The Sims” which was one of the best selling games up until 2012. In these games, all the power is literally in your hands. You are in charge of founding a city and then developing it into a prosperous and successful place for people to live while using the budget you are given. In addition to that, you also have to maintain your character’s happiness and well being too. This game is truly one of a kind and believed to have been so successful because of its “open endedness”, allowing you to create developmental zones, dealing with natural disasters, creating laws and making sure everyone follows these rules of society. I personally believe that the popularity of the game is in part of how open ended it is and also because of how much control and power you have in this game.
2) Seeing Like SimCity Summary:
This article contains very rich material that discusses the affect this game has on children’s education and how they learn. Rob MacDougall, the author of this article half-heartedly agrees with Alan Kay in regards to its negative effects on children. Kay, who was used as a source in this article on MacDougall’s behalf, talks about how the game is a great example of an anti-educational environment and has no educational purpose at all. What MacDougall and Kay found most disturbing was the how the game uses simulations to teach or model history. Kay and MacDougall view the cause and effect that this game asserts as risky because it pushes a child's thinking and thought process away from reality and history and more towards a fake utopia. An example of this is that placing more police stations within your city will result in lower crime rates. MacDougall, however, doesn’t believe as strongly as Kay does that simulation games and their assumptions are what ruin it as an educational lesson for young children and students. MacDougall believes that if used correctly, this game could be an effective educational tool due to its political and societal implications naturally included within the game. MacDougall then makes a great point by suggesting that children should learn how to “open the black box” and comprehend these types of games on a deeper level.
3) Why Is SimCity Important?
MacDougall highlights various reasons of importance that SimCity provides. Firstly, in this article, he discusses the game’s importance through an educational perspective. Although he believes that it could potentially be used as an educational tool if used properly, he also warn us about the dangers of it because of its simulations which is responsible for the false sense of reality that it portrays. Politically and socially, MacDougal reviews the game’s importance through not only the child campaign, but by recognizing and realizing what the deeper understanding is within this game. Culturally, MacDougal touches on how videogames play an instrumental part in a child’s life growing up and how that is cultural on a larger scale due to many children playing videogames while growing up.
4) Debate of SimCity
There was one comment left by a man named Trevor Owens that really stood out to me because of the points he made. Trevor states that he disagrees with the idea that playing a game ends up being something like consuming the model. He leans more towards what Will Wright argues which is that the essence of playing a game is breaking apart the model and internalizing it. Trevor articulates that once we get the internal understanding of the model of the game through interaction with it, that it doesn’t so much as seduce us, but rather we become more of a critical consumer. Trevor says he believes this because of the slippery slope between players-> modders-> and designers. After reading the article by MacDougall, I found myself agreeing more with him on this basis, but Trevor made some very valid point that made me reconsider my original position. Now, I tend to agree with Trevor on this issue because when I think about it from a consumer’s perspective, I would become more and more critical of a videogame the more I played it. I would say that as a child, the videogames I played didn’t consume me as MacDougall believes, but rather, I would actually become more critical of the game; looking for glitches or faults within the game that made the game better or worse.
MacDougall, Rob. "Seeing Like SimCity." Play the Past Rss. N.p., 26 Jan 2011. Web. 08 June 2015. "SimCity" Wikipedia Web. 08 June 2015.
1). SOPA and Pipa (Protect IP) are two main legislative bills that were passed a few years ago that were meant to deal with Internet piracy, copyright infringement, and eradicating foreign websites that seemed problematic or sketchy in the government’s eye. Primarily, SOPA is intended to handle issues regarding Internet Search Engines and U.S. Directed Sites. When I say that SOPA handles issues with Internet Search Engines, essentially what that means is that it attempts to remove any provided links to other sites that are based on a user query or selection (reddit, live blogs and wikis). U.S. directed sites are another field that SOPA is intended to aid in. Basically, what a U.S. Directed Site is, is a site, or a portion of a site, that is used to conduct business or provide services to U.S. residents. A qualifying plaintiff in this situation would be a holder of intellectual property who is harmed by the activity or behavior of a domestic infringing site. Protect IP or Pipa, on the other hand, deals with issues regarding financial transaction providers and information location tools. Basically Protect IP is a service that handles payments, such as PayPal and locating services that display links or ‘pointers’.
Almost all the powers that are located within these bills, however, are granted to the office of the Attorney General. Once the Attorney General is able to receive a court order, he/she can then take action against that particular foreign infringing site. In order for SOPA to take action against a foreign infringing site, the site must be: US directed, the owner or operator of the site is “committing or facilitating the commission” of criminal violations that are punishable under certain sections of the bill, and the site would be subject to seizure if it were a domestic site rather than a foreign site. For Protect IP to take action against foreign sites the qualifications must be that: the site is being used primarily as a mean for engaging in, enabling, or facilitating the activities of copyright infringement or counterfeit product; or the site is designed by its operator as a means for engaging in, enabling, or facilitating the activities of copyright infringement or counterfeit products. Provided that all of these criteria are met, the Attorney General can then move to serve this court order to entities in the U.S., forcing them to take certain actions against the site. Some of these actions are: requiring U.S. sites and search engines to remove all the links directing to the foreign site, requiring U.S. advertising services to no longer serve ads linking to the site or display ads, require U.S. payment networks to cease any transactions between the foreign site and U.S. customers, and requiring U.S. service providers to block customer access to the foreign site. While you may think that SOPA and protect IP are doing us a service, these bills can actually cause substantial harm to user-driven sites like reddit. One reason for this is due to the potential for abuse on the government’s side. Under the current definition of ‘facilitation’ and the loose and technology-ignorant wording that is included within these bills, a site could be targeted for something as simple as describing how to rip a Blu-Ray. In essence, what this language is doing is allowing the government to not just solely target sites that are dedicated to theft, which is not morally, ethically or legally right to do. Not only do these bills not prevent piracy, but they also are going to hurt startups and tech innovation as well. SOPA and Protect IP are aimed at requiring private U.S. entities to enforce restrictions against foreign sites but actually do nothing against the infringements itself.
2). Groups like Anonymous relate to movements to protect online privacy because they not only understand the wrongdoing in monitoring the Internet without valid reason, but they actually do something about it. One great example was found when I was reading the article that was provided online called “The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread”. In 2010, Tunisia was experiencing a revolution like no other and Anonymous not only sparked the fire but they helped end the reign of their dictator of twenty-three years. All that Anonymous did was distribute a care package containing stuff to work around privacy restrictions in Tunisia, including a Greasemonkey script to avoid proxy interception by the Tunisian government on Facebook users. Also found within the care package was a motivational message to the people of Tunisia to stand up for what they believed in and to fight for what they rightfully deserved; a country and government who values and listens to them As you can clearly see just from this example, Anonymous understood and related to the people of Tunisia being oppressed and smothered not only in real life but via the Internet too and did something about it.
3). The readings from this week directly relate to the recent events surrounding Edward Snowden. Snowden, formerly employed by the U.S. government, held top-secret information regarding the relationship between the Internet and our government. Basically what Snowden did was he came forth and told the American people what the government was doing unbeknownst to us; monitoring and collecting the publics’ every move that was occurring via the Internet. Snowden believed that this was an act of dishonesty and violated our rights as an American citizen, which was what drove him to come forth with this startling information. These two bills that were previously talked about, SOPA and Protect IP, provide great potential for governmental abuse such as the example illustrated with Edward Snowden.
Harvey, J. (2012). Blog.reddit -- what's new on reddit: A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
Quinn, N. (2011). The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread. (2011). Retrieved July 2, 2015.
Zetter, K. (2013). Reddit Cofounder Calls on Google’s Larry Page to Oppose CISPA. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
NBC News (2014) Inside the mind of Edward Snowden