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Wiki #1: Micropolis-Simulating Detroit, A City with Cars and Crime but No Races

Micropolis Development

Micropolis, previously the open-source version of SimCity [1], was a popular city-building simulation video game designed by Will Wright. Maxis released SimCity in 1989 on the popular Commodore 64. Electronic Arts (EA) currently owns the rights to the SimCity brand, and on January 10, 2008, the SimCity source code was released by EA under the free software GPL License and the game was redubbed Micropolis, Wright’s original name for his city simulation.

Micropolis—and SimCity before it—was popular amongst citizens in the late eighties early nineties because it was one of the few videogames ever to have portrayed a relatable scenario geographically and chronologically such as Detroit. The object of the game was for the player to reduce crime and save the city by rebuilding its industrial base within the allotted time of 10 years. This is a simulation game so one can control their player to run and to fix cities teetering on the brink of disasters.

Author's Main Argument

In this article, Mark Sample clearly demonstrates a huge differentiation between entertainment and reality. He argues that the key problems that led to and result from the recession of Detroit’s automobile industry are more complex than what is displayed in Micropolis. Sample believes that it is more specific issues, such as unemployment and race, that are the underlying results to a plummeting auto industry, not crime.

Sample is aware that simulations have many limitations and are typically stripped away of their factors and variables. Though race, in Samples opinion, is an obvious and necessary one to be incorporated into this simulation video game due to Detroit’s past.

For example, Sample touches on Detroit's 1967 12th Street race riot[2], which is simulated to a point in Micropolis. This historical riot was sparked by a police raid of an after hours bar that catered to activists in the Black Power movement. The National Guard even had to be called in to control the riot, which resulted in dozens of deaths, thousands of arrests, and hundreds of destroyed stores and homes.

The game Micropolis uses this moment in history where crime is out of control, there is an emergence of mobs and the National Guard is called upon when necessary. Though they leave out the vital race issue that contributed to it all To an extent, Sample believes that, without race as an issue, crime, mobs, and aid from the National Guard would not be necessary in a city like Detroit.

Political, Cultural or Social Importance

Micropolis also has much social and cultural importance. In 2008, this game was donated to the One Laptop per Child (OLPC)[3] project by EA as free and open source software. The goal of OPLC was to empower children of developing countries to learn by providing every school-aged child with one connected laptop, therefore spreading the notability of the game.

Sample talks about the cultural and social importance of this video game through the highlighting of the automobile industry. As displayed in Micropolis, he mentions indirectly how this industry can either make or break such a dependent city such as Detroit. He even brings in the commercial with Clint Eastwood describing how Detroit is fighting back to get to that once booming automobile city. Sample also eloborates on the failed contribution of race and unemployment that are not embedded in the game which is an important factor that should be considered in Sample's eyes.


Though not much, Sample’s post did generate controversy. Every commenter on this post applauded the author’s opinions, though some, respectively, had some differing viewpoints.

The commenters Jeremy Antley and John Brindle argue that there are purposeful reasons behind the many oversimplifications in Micropolis, and other simulation games. One being that it would only overwhelm players to allow the full range of elements that go into a ‘true’ simulation, such as all of the factors that contribute to the devastation reality of the situation in Detroit.

Also, Antley and Brindle mention that the player’s imagination and common knowledge of a targeted area is thought to be one of the objectives in the game. For instance, instead of addressing sociological, cultural or demographic issues, designers allow players to ‘fill in the blanks’ with what they believe to be the larger issues at play. So while the game frames conflict in the broad terms of ‘Crime,’ it is left up to the players to determine that this ‘Crime’ is actually ‘Race’ or any other type of criminal contribution.

Personal Opinion

I have never played the game Micropolis or SimCity though I have played The Sims. By previously playing a simulation game, I have come to agree with both sides of the Micropolis argument. The author, Mark Sample, portrayed a very intellectual viewpoint of the importance of incorporating more detailed historical issues of race and unemployment into this video game simulating Detroit. I agree that it would take so much more than repairing the automobile industry to help rebuild the city. Also, coming from someone who has grown up around Detroit, I believe there are more individual problems that have resulted from the collapse of the automobile industry instead of the broad answer of ‘Crime’ that should be adressed. Though I do think that this is important, especially for those citizens who are familiar with Detroit and all of its issues, I do think it is also smart on the designer’s part to leave out these key facts.

I say this because, people, especially nowadays, need to use their imaginations and apply common knowledge into modern forms of entertainment. It is not necessary for a game to lie out every single detail and factor for players. Really, people should be able to actually think and look at the general goal of ‘combating crime’ in Micropolis as ‘combating the race, drug, unemployment, gun…etc. problem.’ Applying imagination and general knowledge is important because it forces players to make motivated and artistic choices about what to simulate and how to simulate. This is what ultimately makes games more fun, and can also turn entertainment into educational purposes, in my opinion.

Works Cited

Sample, Mark. "Simulating Detroit, A City with Cars and Crime but No Races." Play The Past RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2013. <>.

"SimCity (1989 video game)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 04 June 2013.<>.

"One Laptop per Child." One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Mission. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2013.<>.

Wiki #2: Final-Copyright and Piracy Legislation

SOPA and PIPA (Protect IP)

SOPA and PIPA are very similar bills that are aimed at requiring private US entities to enforce restrictions against foreign sites on the Internet in the fight against copyright infringement and online piracy. These two bills contain highly ambiguous language though, which makes them susceptible for abuse and open a number of doors for different interpretations. An important distinction in these bills is the difference between foreign and domestic sites. In SOPA's description, there are domestic and foreign internet sites while in PIPA there are sites listed as under domestic and non-domestic domain names. These are some of the examples of the extremely broad definitions which label domestic sites like '' and '' as foreign internet sites and foreign sites like as domestic, which is highly confusing.[4]

Also, SOPA and PROTECT IP contain no provisions to actually remove copyrighted content from websites, but rather focus on the censorship of links to entire domains. This places burdens on websites and redirects their content from its most important tenets. These acts are said to hurt future startups and tech innovation by creating new barriers to entry. Therefore it is said that adding these two forms of legislation to regulate open platforms will only hurt future businesses. Also, with these acts, sites will be heavily discouraged from using non-US domain names to the broad language in the bills on how they may be defined. [5]l


The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill that was introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith in 2011. Though, it failed to pass, SOPA's primarily intention was to the expand the ability of the United States government to combat online copyright and online trafficking in counterfeit goods by allowing them to ultimately get rid of websites. The bill intended on allowing U.S. attorney generals to seek court orders against targeted 'down-loading' websites in hopes of taking them off the internet. [6] SOPA is limited in this matter though because the copyright and piracy law does not reach out to all international borders, so as a solution, SOPA tries to make it more difficult for American Internet users to obtain access to the targeted sites. This bill has prompted civil liberty and Internet privacy advocates protesting on the bill's broad definitions and applications. [7]

PIPA (Protect IP)

The Protect IP Act, also known as PIPA or Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act was a law proposed by the U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in 2011. This law was anticipated to give copyright holders, as well as the US government, more tools to halt access to websites infringing on counterfeit goods and the allowing of illegal downloads. This form of legislation is similar to SOPA, which is basically just a house version of the same bill. This act actually is a re-write of a law that failed to pass in 2010 called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. [8] Though if PIPA could get implemented, the federal government could possibly get an upper hand in regards to censoring access to the Internet and could forcibly require that Internet Service Providers block websites that allow copyright infringement.


The group Anonymous that originated in 2003 is difficult to describe. The people associated with the group remain, in fact anonymous; as they are located throughout the world though fail to have any leaders or offices. This could be explained from Anonymous' public statement to Aaron Barr on their hack of and the defacing of HBGary's federal site. The statement from one hacker read, “You think you’ve gathered full names and home addresses of the ‘higher-ups’ of Anonymous? You haven’t. You think Anonymous has a founder and various co-founders? False…. The personal details of Anonymous ‘members’ you think you’ve acquired are, quite simply, nonsense."[9]

Anonymous members are known as “Anons” and even hold up to their name in public while hiding behind stylish, and sometimes personalized Guy Fawkes masks. [10] Specifically, Anonymous is thought of as a loosely associated network of Internet hackers who try and encourage unrestricted access to any forms of free speech or governmental information. Anonymous became publically known for being influential in a series of well publicized hacks and distributed denial-of-service attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites. [11]

Hackers relate to movements to protect online privacy

Groups of hackers, like Anonymous, do relate to movements to protect online privacy throughout the Internet. The Internet is full of countless opportunities that people use to express and build themselves everyday, and that content should be protected. Anonymous’ purpose is to protect that privacy online by helping to regulate the encroachment of the government and other outside companies on the Internet. Proposals like CISPA are open for attack from hacker groups because they allow government agencies and the private sector to share information about cyber attack threats through others’ content. Critics say that CISPA is unjust because it lacks protections to preserve the privacy of users and gives companies immunity for repercussions that might come as a result of sharing information.[12] For these reasons groups like Anonymous will put their foot down, because if ones privacy and personal information is protected through places like the doctors, then that person should be able to enjoy the same benefits through the internet. Our privacy online is what hacker groups like Anonymous is all about and is more and more at risk everyday.

One related movement by the Anonymous group to protect online privacy was George Hotz's introduction of the jailbreak creation on the Sony PS3 console in 2010. This jailbreak was popular and allowed people to install custom firmware and run Linux and OtherOS, which was originally a feature used by Sony to promote the PlayStation, but later was removed. In 2011, Hotz was sued by Sony for allegedly violating federal law against 'circumventing encryption.' Hotz then bashed Sony on his personal blog and asked people to join him in a boycott of Sony products, while also getting backed up by Anonymous.

Though Anonymous went farther than just refusing to buy Sony's products by relaunching "Operation Payback" to DDoS Sony websites. 77 million accounts on the PlayStation Network were hacked and 24.6 million account records were breached in Sony's Online Entertainment Network, all due to Anonymous. The hackers shut down the Sony Playstation Network for almost a month which resulted in its stock prices falling from $31 per share to just over $25. "Operation Payback" was launched to defend and give back to the public a feature that had been taken away after previously being available to everyone.[13]

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a former federal law enforcement employee who leaked details of top-secret American and British government surveillance programs to the press. Specifically, he was a technical contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In efforts to “inform the public of their abolishment of privacy” Snowden notified outside sources about information on a variety of classified intelligence programs such as the PRISM, and Tempora Internet surveillance programs.[14]Snowden has been charged with multiple forms of Espionage by US federal prosecutors, though he has managed to flee to other countries like Moscow and Hong Kong and remain outside of the US’s control. [15]

There is controversy among the public as to whether Snowden is an American traitor or a national hero for informing U.S citizens of the spy operations that are infringing on privacy. As stated in the SOPA and PIPA article, the U.S. is not supposed to be monitoring every single act made by people, but instead governing illegal acts that have already been committed for society's basic levels or trust, cooperation, and respect for institutions to function well. [16]Edward Snowden’s risky decision to expose the government’s secrets about the protection of people’s rights via the web is also similar to what Anonymous groups would do. Though, unlike Anonymous groups, where people wear masks in public, Snowden was upfront and not afraid to be known for what he had done.[17] In fact Snowden’s leaks are said to rank among the most significant breaches in the history of the NSA. [18]

Workes Cited

Stop Online Piracy Act. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 June 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

Havey, Jason (2012) A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP (read)

Protect IP Act. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 05 Aug. 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

"Edward Snowden." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 June 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

Anonymous (group)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 June 2013. Web. 26 June 2013.

Norton, Quinn (2012) 2011: The Year Anonymous Took On Cops, Dictators and Existential Dread (read)

Zetter, Kim (2013) Reddit Cofounder Calls on Google’s Larry Page to Oppose CISPA (read)

Sottek, T.C. (2013) The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act: CISPA explained (read)

"Edward Snowden Fled Hong Kong after Dinner of Pizza and Sausages over Fears He Would Be Jailed without His Computer." Mail Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2013.