Computer Game or City Simulation?

article on Simulation context of SimCity. The models deliberately exaggerate effects to provide feedback to the player; in real life, the effects of many decisions would be imperceptible. The purpose of SimCity is not accuracy or prediction but communication. "Unless it's entertaining, the educational value is irrelevant." Asked how he handles controversial choices, like the effects of tax rates on development, Wright dodges the question and says, "We go for game play"--whatever is most fun... The framework for "clarifying" values adopted by SimHealth is based on hackneyed and misleading premises. SimHealth asks players to define their values in terms of two dualities--liberty and equality, and community and efficiency--on the premise that more of one value in a pair necessarily means less of the other. But is this the case? Historically, many societies that have denied basic liberties have also had extreme inequalities... The official simulator today, CBO director Robert Reischauer, may now be as powerful a figure as any member of Congress... Transparency ought to become both the objective of simulation designers and a critical basis for judging their success. Richard Duke--the pioneer who first introduced computers into urban simulation games in the 1960s--is now deeply skeptical about models embedded in computers that oblige the user simply to accept an outcome as valid. Currently a professor at the University of Michigan and president of the International Simulation and Gaming Association, Duke says, "If a simulation hides the model, it's of little interest to me. If a simulation exposes the model, I'm much more interested." His own work now emphasizes role-playing policy simulation exercises that allow different players to engage each other, not just a black-box model.

Open Source version! 2007-11-12-SimcityForOlpc

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