Quishanna Coleman

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Wiki Number 1 Micropolis was and still is a very popular game among a great number of people. It was designed by Will Wright in the 1980’s for the Macintosh computer. After being rejected by numerous game publishers to publish Micropolis, which later became SimCity, Wright finally caught a break when a small software company called Maxis agreed. It was finally released in February of 1989 and was a major hit. In 2008, after SimCity had become a best-seller, Wright decided to release the source code for the original game under the GPL 3 license using its original name, Mircopolis.

The object in both Mircopolis and SimCity is to create and/or maintain a city. You can either create your own city from the ground up or pick an already created city experiencing some type of hard time (including traffic, boredom, and monster attacks) that you must figure out how to solve. People can move into your city but they can also move out. Your overall goal is to create a place that is functioning and sustainable filled with satisfied occupants.

I believe that what made Micropolis and SimCity popular is the same thing that made early game publishers nervous about backing such a game: there is no winning or losing. A player simply adjusts certain things in their city until they fix whatever problem they may be experiencing. No time limits. No ending. Releasing thousands of gamers from the mental headache other games caused them.

As I stated earlier a gameplay option for both Micropolis as well as SimCity is to pick a pre-created city going through some type of disaster and try to, in essence, save it. One of the scenarios given is Detroit in 1972, and the disaster that you must try to fix is simply labeled “Crime.” Many people know that particular period of time as the downfall of Detroit which was once a very prosperous, automotive city; which is what Micropolis wants you to return it to. Your objective is to reduce crime and rebuild the industrial base of the city. Which is all good, but as Mark Sample discussed in his Play the Past article, the situation in Detroit is not that simple. The game scenario asks you to rebuild the automotive industry in order to lower to rate of crime in the city. This implies that the crimes in 1972 Detroit were solely caused by the fall of the cities automotive industry which is only partially true. By doing this, Micropolis completely ignores the racial tensions and crimes that occurred before 1972 as well as those that occurred after. As you go through the game, riots and lootings break out if you haven’t done enough to restore the city. Riots made up of completely “raceless” individuals because race does not matter in Micropolis, only the crimes. The reasons for the crimes go unaddressed. Micropolis does not tell you that the reason that there is a rise in crime is because of the racial tensions within the city as well as unemployment due to the fall of the automotive industry.

Mark Sample seemed to have a problem with the social standpoint of Micropolis. He mentioned his understanding of how simulations work: they remove a number of factors “to reveal a core system that is constrained by computational, historical, and ideological limitations.” Sample goes on to say that the best simulations will identify the true core of the thing that it is simulating, which is very true. If any person were to play this game, without any prior knowledge of everything that actually happened in Detroit, they would believe that the sole reason for the high rates of crime was the fall of the automotive industry. This is NOT the core of the matter though. Sample tells us that race more than anything is the true essence of Detroit’s disaster.

There was not much debate regarding Sample’s views on the 1972 Detroit scenario in Micropolis. Of the four people to comment, all agreed with Sample and even added their own insights on the matter. One commenter, Trevor Owens spoke about how he also noticed that race was not addressed in the simulation but he also asked how race could have been included. Owens suggested that the game could have included light and dark colored civilians, each group having its own characteristics but this would have also created controversy about what characteristics to assign to entire groups of individuals. Another commenter, Jeremy Antley, mentioned something extremely helpful. Antley spoke about how developers expect players to enter the game with some type of prior knowledge regarding its content; which is why many people noticed the lack of race in the game. However, other people that may not be familiar with such American history wouldn’t know to look deeper into the category “Crime.” I’ve never played either Micropolis or SimCity (though I am a major fan of the spin off game The Sims) but I completely agree with Mark Sample. Ignoring the factor of race on Detroit’s situation completely “whitewashes” it and doesn’t give the gamer the full picture of history (if you were to use this game as a source of learning history). But I also agree with Trevor Owens in that including race may have too big of a task. Is there really a tasteful way to include different races and their conflicts without causing a major uproar?

Sample, Mark. “Simulating Detroit. A City with Cars and Crime but Not Races.” Play The Past RSS. 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 June 2015. Pot, Justin. “Micropolis-A New Name For a Classic City Simulator Game.” MakeUseOf. 25 Apr. 2013. Web 12 June 2015 “SimCity (1989 Video Game).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 12 June 2015

Wiki Number 2

What Are They? Both SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and PROTECT IP (the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) were unsuccessful acts that attempted to set up a system of reprimands for online sites that either directly or indirectly assisted with acts of piracy. SOPA would “authorize the Attorney General to seek a court order against a U.S.-directed foreign Internet site committing or facilitating online piracy to require the owner... to cease and desist further activities constituting specified intellectual property offenses under the federal criminal code including criminal copyright infringement, unauthorized fixation and trafficking of sound recordings or videos of live musical performances, the recording of exhibited motion pictures, or trafficking in counterfeit labels, goods, or services” (Congress, 2011). PROTECT IP would “authorize the Attorney General to commence an in personam action against a registrant of a nondomestic domain name used by an Internet site dedicated to infringing activities” (Congress, 2011). The main tactic these acts were going for was to attack websites that promote and/or allow piracy to occur. To punish non domestic sites that participated in these activities, domestic sites would be required to remove any links to the non domestic site, domestic advertisements would not be allowed to show ads promoting the foreign site, and the foreign site would be in all ways blacklisted. The problem that many people had with both SOPA and PROTECT IP is how vague the guidelines are. “Foreign Internet site” and “nondomestic domain name” are not clear themselves because they simply define these sites as ones that don’t have a domestic domain name. This can be challenging because even if a site is hosted in the States, if it doesn’t have a domestic domain name it will not be safe from these policies. Also, if a nondomestic hosted site has a domestic domain name they need not worry.

Who Are They? Anonymous is a group of unknown hackers that seemed to show up whenever public injustices were being done, to assist those in need. They are Internet trolls that work towards real-world results. Some of the work that they’ve done include OpBART which was sparked by police brutality from California Bay Area’s light rail system’s police force. Protests were occurring long before Anonymous came into the picture. It wasn’t until cell services were cut in downtown stations in order to keep protesters from communicating and organizing that really caught Anonymous’s attention. If Anonymous wasn’t interested in this fight before they were now. Anonymous’s retaliation came from what they did best: hacking. They hacked BART websites, released tons of police data, and even tried to blackmail BART spokesperson with photos they found while hacking his accounts. Anonymous is known for their hacking abilities. Many people in power fear them for two reasons: (1) Anonymous seems to be able to access some of the most protected information and loves to bring to light all of your dirty, little secrets (2) There is no why of fighting them because there is no way of tracking down exactly who they are. Those reasons are exactly why hackers like Anonymous are the foremost reasons for the recent movements to protect online privacy. Both the government and wealthy individuals/companies see people such as the hackers from Anonymous as threats. If they could obtain the type of information that they did for the sole purpose of trolling and “punishing” groups that they felt deserved it, imagine what other types of information they could get their hands on if they really wanted to. Anonymous reminded the entire world that nothing on the web is safe and secret; with the right technical know-how a person could know your deepest darkest secrets. This lead to many questioning the level of privacy they actually have. The government however, did not like that they could not figure out who these people were. Acts such as CISPA would allow them access to any information or interactions that we have on sites such as Google and Facebook. By doing this, they could possibly track down any hacker or national security threat solely by using information gathered on the Internet. If people were questioning their level of privacy before, they were definitely freaking out about it now. The worst part is that legal action could be imposed and if the government's accusations were wrong they would not be held responsible for their actions. You would have no control over who gets information that you put online or what they do with it; which is similar to today’s online world but in this situation you could possibly be labeled a terrorist.

What Can We Do? The government’s desire to monitor its citizens for the protection of it citizens is exactly what lead to the questioning of morality from Edward Snowden. We all know that hackers can obtain any piece of data about you and your life if they searched deep enough; but when the government that is supposed to be protecting you takes it upon themselves to spy on any and everyone for the need of “safety” things get complicated. Edward Snowden saw these technologies and when he couldn’t reason with those in charge he decided to blow the whistle and bring to light all that was kept so quiet. The technologies that Snowden feared were created (I am assuming) to monitor the United States in order to find and track those that the government would label as “Threats” for whatever reason they saw fit. If citizens had a problem with acts such as SOPA and CISPA, then they would definitely not be okay with their government watching their every move throughout the day, listening to every word they may say, and tracking not only their physical movements but their habits as well. The situation with Edward Snowden reminded us more than ever that the privacy and constitutional rights that we once believed we had not only in the real world but also in the virtual world are nothing but false promises meant to give us a false sense of security.

Havey, Jason (2012) A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP Norton, Quinn (2012) 2011: The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread Hart, Vi. (2014) Net Neutrality in the US: Now What? Zetter, Kim (2013) Reddit Cofounder Calls on Google’s Larry Page to Oppose CISPA Sottek, T.C. (2013) The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act: CISPA explained Hundt, Reed (2014) Saving Privacy NBC News (2014) Inside the mind of Edward Snowden Congress.gov (2011) H.R.3261 - Stop Online Piracy Act Congress.gov (2011) S.968 - PROTECT IP Act of 2011