- 1 Wiki Article #1
- 2 Wiki Article #2
Wiki Article #1
Simcity is a interactive game which lets users control a city which the user controls by making decisions and placing buildings wherever they feel like. It essentially gives the player the ability to be the mayor of the city. SimCity was first developed by Will Wright under the name Micropolis (eventually turning to SimCity) for the Commodore 64. Wright teamed up with Jeff Braun, the founder of Maxis, and was able to publish the game in 1989. The Maxis company was bought out by Electronic Arts who now publishes the SimCity games and The Sims games.
The game was widely popular as it gave players the ability to control something that they were not able to in previous games. It won more than 10 awards within the year it was published.The SimCity franchise is still going strong with many spin offs of SimCity released and a recent release of another SimCity game back in March 2013.
The source code for the original SimCity was released in January 2008 as a donation to the One Laptop Per Child program. OLPC will put this code on every laptop they give out. This code was named after the initial name Micropolis.
Simulating Detroit, A City with Cars and Crime but No Races
Detroit has always been one of the cities that Michigan is recognized for. Detroit is the city for automobiles but also recognized for its poor economy. In the article "Simulating Detroit. A City with Cars and Crime but No Races" author Mark Sample states that "when the automobile industry is in the dumps, the economy is in the dumps. And when the automobile industry picks up, surely this means the economy is recovering as well." Basically, Detroit is a city that depends on on one industry in its boundaries.
In his article, Sample compares the real life Detroit with the simulated on in the games Simcity / Micropolis released in 1989. In the original SimCity game, there were several cities that the player could choose from and work to make them better in the aspects of crime and money including Detroit.
SimCity Detroit vs. Real Life Detroit
The SimCity Detroit was pushed into recession by competition from foreign companies leading to decreased land values and higher crime rates. The player has ten years to reduce the crime and build up the industry once more. If the industry is not rebuilt and the economy is not revived then there would be greater crime that occurs and the National Guard would be called in.
Previous years before the game was released Detroit was in a very similar situation. Crime rates did rise and the industry did fail. In 1967 there was the 12th Street race riot that was sparked by a police raid. In this situation, the National Guard was called into action and the riots deceased.
Essentially simulations are a stripped away game that reveal a "core system that is constrained by computational, historical, and ideological limitations." Simulations are supposed to focus on the main aspect of the place and event it is supposed to portray while providing the opportunity for the player to have fun while doing so.
However, when comparing these two cities Sample noticed something discerning in the SimCity version of Detroit. There was no issues or mention of the main aspect of Detroit at that time: race. Everything else is pretty much similar except this one major detail the developers left out. Sample puts it as the riots in SimCity being "whitewashed" meaning that there was no class or race tensions in the game. There was not the aspect that has been the main root of conflict in the United States. Sample states that it was "conflated with" crime concerns. The developers essentially gathered all the conflicting issues at this time and mushed it into one big concept. In this case it was crime.
Sample's main argument is that SimCity and Micropolis do not highlight the main aspect of Detroit that many know: race. Race is a part of the cultural history of Detroit. As Sample points out race is the most important aspect that is left out of the game. However, Will Wright mentions though, he did not utilize any demography, criminology, or sociology. He just "'kind of optimized for game play.'"
In general, the overarching concept that concerns some about simulations is that the games leave out the aspects that make the place at that time. Simulation games are supposed to highlight the main genreal feeling of the time and not necesarily nitpick at the smaller details. Sample also hints at that the games do require its users to fill in some blanks. As Sample states that "just because the game appears to be colorblind doesn’t mean we have to be."
Social / Cultural / Political Importance
Sample started to focus on Micropolis mainly because of the allowance gave by Electronic Arts for Micropolis to be put on the One Laptop per Child laptops they give out. Such a popular game was allowed as a freebie to this organization - something remarkable in itself as it is a very popular game.
The game itself holds importance because, even though some aspects are left out, it can still hold some idea of what the culture of the released time is and what the culture of the time represented in the game holds. The game picked up on some of the events all over including Tokyo. This game could be produced anywhere and still hold some relevance to the players.
For some, they use this game as a teaching material to teach people to think. The players have to make decisions and these choices could tear the city down or raise it up. It is a game that will allow players to make their own choices while learning about what could happen with these choices.
This game opened up new abilities to expand upon ideas and let the person choose their own path. It opened up the route to game expansions such as further developed SimCity's and The Sims.
The general reception to this post was very accepting of these ideas and even expanded on them a little bit. Rob Macdougall points out that in simulation games "conflations / evasions / oversimplifications" is the main point of simulations and is what they are. Jeremy Antley expands on this point by stating that games in general (video, board, etc) do simplify the main aspects of the settings - expecting the players to have some general knowledge to fill-in-the-blanks (even though there are some who may not have this background information).
Trevor Owens also brings up a good point. He questions that by bringing up the subject of race what other issues will that aspect bring with it. Including an important aspect in a game will bring up more issues than one would think - neither side will ever be completely pleased. There is a reason why race was - and still is - the main cause of disagreements: everyone has a view on what is acceptable. As Owens points out the American culture avoids including any Black history in any simulations. In general, it is still too touchy of a subject for some people - enough for developers to avoid putting it in their games. John Brindle essentially agrees by stating that games make general claims on history and that focusing on the "game play" or the "simulation value" will not be all around agreeable for some people. There will always be disagreements to game content.
In overall context I am a casual gamer playing games like The Sims and Final Fantasy. I have not played the original SimCity / Micropolis, but I have played SimCity Creator on my Nintendo DS and have played the other popular simulation game by Will Wright, The Sims. In general, I agree with the things the author and the commenters state in their posts about simulation games. It seems that there is some aspects that developers left out of games, and it is disappointing when it is major aspects of history. However, there has to be made cuts in the game play to make it more accessible. In the end, simulation developers cannot put every aspect of the setting in the game - it would just be too much, especially for the original SimCity. The player would have to figure out how to play the game, then take in all of the different historical events that happen. It could - and most likely would - make the game not as fun. Because of the open game play aspects that are in simulations, such as less historical detail, people can play simulation games however they want without feeling obligated to follow history. It allows the player to imagine stories and make choices on their own.
Also, in some context, putting the most controversial aspects in a game can make or break it. At some point one has to choose what is most important: accuracy or play ability to a game. I would choose play ability any day. Occasionally history is all good in games, but at times I would like to be able to make my own decisions. Sometimes it is good to have a choice in games like in simulations, which are not usually seen in first person shooters.
Overall, at times a little more accuracy could be nice. At times, however, accuracy could have unwanted results.
Don, Hopkins. "Designing User Interfaces to Simulation Games." Don Hopkins. N.p., 01 12 2004. Web. 5 Jun 2013. <http://www.donhopkins.com/drupal/node/9>.
Sample, Mark. "Simulating Detroit, A City with Cars and Crime but No Races." Play The Past. N.p., 14 02 2012. Web. 5 Jun. 2013. <http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2474>.
"SimCity (1989 video game)." Wikipedia. N.p., 22 04 2013. Web. 5 Jun 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SimCity_(1989_video_game)>.
Wiki Article #2
Cyber Protection: Do's and Don'ts
At some point in everyone's lives there have been the temptation to see something without paying for it. That can include downloading music, content for games, streaming movies online, etc. These actions upset the companies producing these products which leads to the government getting involved in countless of attempts to lessen these illegal actions.
There has been countless attempts at trying to lessen the amount of money that the companies are losing. These can come in forms of new policies, arrests, and attempts at passing bills. There have been countless of bills attempts but some of the most public awareness include SOPA, PROTECT IP, and CISPA.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was first proposed on October 26, 2011. The main reason for this act was to try to stop the ability to download copyright material. According to Jason Harvey's article if a web site was committing a United States crime violation by providing copyright materials, then the attorney general can require United States domestic sites to require search engines and sites remove all links to that site, no ads on or linking to the site, U.S payment sites cease all actions with them, and also make service providers block all access to the site. There is also the option that allows qualifying people to send notice and tell the owners to cease interaction with the foreign site. The sites that this acts attempts to ban are sites that provide copyright material with no rights to put them up, sites that allows file sharing which could result in copyright material being published, and then finally sites that provide a work around to these provisions.
There has been plenty of issues that were brought up in examining this act. The first is the vague language in which the act tries to define as a "domestic" site and a "foreign" site. The bills define "domestic" as sites that are registered to a domain that resides in the United States (.com, .org, .us). A foreign site is just explained as a site that is not a domestic site - pretty much anything that is not included in the U.S name range (Harvey). The language is very vague and could cause issues later on. This could cause sites such as Reddit to shut down because they have several different domains, including some that are "foreign."
Another issue that was brought up during the examination was the extra effort that would of have to be put into by the web sites to block the other sites from any mention on their site. Currently, there is the process that companies have to fill out such as a DMCA take down request (Harvey); however, SOPA would require the sites to censor all links that direct to the copyrighted material. As Harvey lists in his post, the sites would have to edit existing posts and figure out a way to monitor posts that are being published.
The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROJECT IP) was proposed in May 2011 and is the sister act to SOPA. PROJECT IP (also nicknamed PIPA) would be used in coherence with SOPA at the attempt to block the ability to download copyrighted material for free. This act allows that government to seek court orders against sites that are not following the law. This also follows what SOPA does in taking down any links or ads on U.S sites that link to foreign sites that are committing a crime. The last function that PROJECT IP has is that companies have the ability to sue any websites that they believe are not doing a good job of preventing copyright material from popping up (Jamal).
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act was proposed as another alternative to SOPA and the PROTECT IP acts. This act allows private companies to share their user information to the government if it pertains as a "cyber threat." A cyber threat can include efforts to harm public or private systems or if there is theft of intellectual property that belongs to another person. This allows for the government to use the information to discover cyber threats,cyber crimes, and to help protect people from death or harm. There is on provision which allows the companies to make the users information anonymous and not let the government take it. One major controversy to this act is that if one's information is release - even by mistake - then the person can not sue whoever releases it (Sottek).
The initial attempt to pass this act did not pass. However, it was reintroduced on February 12, 2013 and has passed the house and is now in the Senate.
At some point, almost all news outlets have brought the attention to the hacker group Anonymous. Anonymous has hacked into multiple companies websites including Sony, multiple government sites, and BMI. In reality, Anonymous does not have one set leader or leadership group thus there is not one goal in mind - whatever sets the members off, they go against and hack into different web sites.
There has been different opinions about the Anonymous group. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was a statement from a private source that The National Security Agency said they believe Anonymous poses a threat to national security - eventually believing that they could shut down power to millions of people (Public Radio International). However, Anonymous has also brought attention to events around the world including the Egypt revolution and what happened in Tunisia (RT). There is also the fact that Anonymous was named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2012 (Gellman).
Through different news articles it is evident that Anonymous does not like government policies that attempt to squash down citizens rights. When SOPA was in debate, Anonymous did express their dislike of the possible actions that would occur. This is shown when Anonymous shut down multiple sites including the BMI site and the FBI site (RT). By doing this, they show how simple it is for some people to hack into government sites that are supposed to protect the citizens. Thus, they show what
Online hackers can also show exactly what people are doing with the information collected through online actions. This is seen with the Wikileaks and the current Edward Snowden situation. Citizens do not really know what information is safe and which is not. It enlightens people to realize that information could be used by anyone - even the most trusted.
Because of the ability to gather information so quickly - as Anonymous has shown by hacking Sony - there has to be some way to increase the security online. This leads to ways to increase online privacy and leads to acts such as SOPA and PROTECT IP, which may or may not help with blocking hackers in some way.
At the beginning of June 2013, there was several leaks of government actions that revealed that the government has been collecting information that no one knew were being collected. This information was revealed by a U.S government contractor, Edward Snowden (Starr). Snowden revealed government files that the U.S National Security Agency has been tracking cell phone record and monitoring email and internet traffic of all the people in the United States - whether or not the communication was just in the United States or international (Starr).
It seems like the SOPA and PROTECT IP acts are similar to the information that the government has been collecting for years; it just would have been more public than before. These acts would give the government even more power and thus, provide an opportunity for the government to keep expanding the power that resides in the government.
Gellman, B. (2012, April 18). The world's 100 most influential people: 2012. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2112122,00.html
Harvey, J. (2012, January 17). A technical examination of sopa and protect ip. Retrieved from http://blog.reddit.com/2012/01/technical-examination-of-sopa-and.html
Internet strikes back: Anonymous' operation megaupload explained. (2012, January 20). Retrieved from http://rt.com/usa/anonymous-barrettbrown-sopa-megaupload-241/
Jamal. (n.d.). How sopa/pipa can affect you. Retrieved from http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/how-sopa-pipa-can-affect-you/
National security agency calls hacktivist group 'anonymous' a threat to national security. (2012, Febuary 27). Public Radio International. Retrieved from http://www.pri.org/stories/politics-society/government/nsa-declares-anonymous-a-threat-to-national-security-8559.html
Norton, Q. (2012, January 01). 2011: the year anonymous took on cops, dictators and existential dread. Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/anonymous-dicators-existential-dread/all/1
Schatz, A. (2012, January 18). What is sopa anyway? a guide to understanding the online piracy bill. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203735304577167261853938938.html
Sottek, T. C. (2012, April 27). The cyber intelligence sharing and protection act: Cispa explained. Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2012/4/27/2976718/cyber-intelligence-sharing-and-protection-act-cispa-hr-3523
Starr, B., & Yan, H. (2013, June 23). Man behind nsa leaks says he did it to safeguard privacy, liberty. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/10/politics/edward-snowden-profile