Wiki Post 1 on SimCity
SimCity is a computer simulation published in 1989 (as Micropolis) for multiple platforms . This game was designed by developer Will Wright in Orinda, California. The main objective of this game is to act as mayor of a growing city. The player must maintain citizens happiness and a stable budget (Wikipedia).
The development of SimCity started after Jeff Braun published SimCity as the initial game for Maxis. SimCity was based on 20th Century Californian development. In January, 2008 the SimCity code was released to be free software and was donated to the project One Laptop Per Child expanding popularity greatly (Wikipedia).
SimCity continued to be the best selling computer game up until the year 2012 (Wikipedia). There have been numerous additions and expansions to the SimCity collection. SimCity also branched off into a separate simulation game called "The Sims" in the 2000s (Wikipedia).
Seeing Like SimCity
Author's Main Argument
Rob McDougall uses SimCity to discuss the main issues that occur when game developers try to simulate history. McDougall is able to effectively discuss the errors in ways of video games such as Civilization or Colonization. Overall, the author's main point in the article is history lies deeper than just 'logic and roots' (McDougall).
McDougall's use of references greatly enhances his argument. He cites a quote from Trevor Owens' article which discusses the simplicity and flat-out boring nature of Colonization . Owens discusses how simulation games leave out major chunks of history which have played major roles on society. Colonization did not include such major topics as slavery which, unfortunately, shaped the economic development of many nations globally (Owens). McDougall and Owens both use the quote "history in Civilization is precisely the opposite of history" this backs the McDougall's argument.
SimCity is argued by McDougall as not giving actual thought to building a city. It is argued that there are still issues with the way crime is shown through SimCity as well as how it does not model history correctly. McDougall used arguments of various developments which are essential to maintain in all video games. Simulation games do not show history effectively; they are just turning history into code (McDougall).
Importance of SimCity
Simulation games are able to show history through a more lively variation compared to textbooks. SimCity plays major roles through its use of culture, politics and social aspects.
McDougall shows the importance in culture with simulation games such as SimCity. "History is what hurts" is a great definition for how games such as SimCity and Colonization play roles in education and culture (McDougall). Games often times change the way society sees opinions and facts. It is because of culture that games such as Colonization and SimCity are changed. It is difficult for programmers to produce the emotions which arose in history (McDougall). Culture plays a role in developing games in order to make their game popular and worthy of purchase.
In the article "Seeing Like SimCity" the game Monopoly is addressed in terms of politics. Monopoly was designed as a way to criticize both landlords and capitalists. The game has changed overtime to just represent the original procedures (McDougall). The rules of a game will always play a role over the statement it originally made. The political importance of SimCity is similar in this way. McDougall asks if this is the correct way to attack crime by putting more police on the street (McDougall). Politics can be a touchy issue in the video game world and developers must maintain these correctly.
Is a simulation game the correct way to educate children or young adults about history (McDougall)? It is difficult to discuss history with just the use of a sim game. Alan Kay deconstructs SimCity, going as far as calling it an anti-educational environment, somewhat playing a similar role as an air guitar (McDougall). The impact a simulation game such as SimCity plays on an environment must be watched carefully as it could be detrimental instead of constructive socially.
The comments on this post generate further thinking on McDougall's topic. Many of those who commented based their arguments on video games with historical background. I agree that it is a significant problem in history simulations with the past being in question. Simulation games such as The Sims or SimCity should not be subject to the same criticisms.
Having played this game as well as other simulators, I know it is interesting to play at the beginning but gets boring quite quickly. SimCity takes a while to actually build the city effectively and it can also be very tedious at times. In general, I believe it is just a simulator and doesn't have as many historical problem as games like Civilization or Colonization. Games such as the Sims or SimCity do not necessarily have the intentions of education and should not be compared so similarly to games with a historical background.
- Wikipedia contributors. "SimCity." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Jun. 2013. Web. 3 Jun. 2013.
- MacDougall, Rob. "Seeing Like SimCity." Play the Past, 26 Jan. 2011. Web. 3 Jun. 2013.
- Owens, Trevor. "Sid Meier's Colonization: Is it offensive enough." Play the Past, 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 3 Jun. 2013.