Seeing like SimCity
1. What is the topic and author’s main argument? In this article, we are shown the relation between how computer simulations create growth of civilizations and how civilizations actually are created throughout history. The article talks about how video game simulations are limited due to the fact that they are written in code and have a limited set of processes that they must follow. This makes the gamer focus more on predicting and reacting to learned algorithms. These games take away reality and turn it into fantasy. Since every problem can be fixed with a preset solution, there is no element of surprise. Every action can be countered with a coded effect. The author, though a big fan of games such as SimCity and Civilization, began to see how faulted these simulations were. The rules written in the code are what control the game, not the fictional idea of the point of the game. These games did not teach you how to truly understand how a civilization worked, but rather taught you how to manage the books. They take away room for assumption and replace it with a simulated known response. Therefore, they remove the ability for true innovation.
2. Political, social, and cultural importance of these games? Games such as SimCity have been highly awarded and used as tools for learning in schools. The problem is that games like SimCity are purely mathematical and are limited in their ability to simulate real life scenario’s. As Trevor Owen’s stated, “As you become mired in the banality of logistical shuffling, you are struck with the ennui of the bureaucratic evil at the core of the game. … Your “glorious” conquest is rewarded by endless project management and accounting: a sort of spreadsheet of cultural domination.” I believe this statement shows that these games can teach children that a society can be completely controlled by financial influence. It doesn’t portray the room for error. The video on MagnaSanti, the supposed perfect SimCity, just goes to show the problem with the game. No civilization is perfect and this truth can not be beat.
3. Did the article stimulate debate; did you agree; have you played the game? This article did stimulate some debate. Most people did agree with the general idea that the author had but had different opinions on some of the smaller points. One comment that agreed talked about how we see that urban planning has little impact on the success of a city in such situations as Detroit. A city can’t solely succeed based on material aspects. I tend to agree with the authors opinion. I played SimCity in middle school and even participated in a competition. I found the game to be mindless and just a series of typing in the same responses to the limited scenarios that were thrown at you.
War, What is it Good For? Learning from Wargaming
1. What is the topic and author’s main argument? For over two hundred years, many of the world’s top military’s have been participating in an activity that has been preparing them to handle high pressure situations. These exercises have helped to make them stronger and better prepared for battle. Wargaming has long been one of the best tools for military leaders to learn war strategy and situation analysis. Better preparation leads to better decisions when it matters. In this article, the author works to convey the idea that wargames are applicable in many more fields than just war. They can allow you to recognize the vast realm of scenarios that can occur in any situation and force you to react promptly. Wargames are extremely important in teaching critical decision making; not so much a representation of reality.
2. Political, social, and cultural importance of these games? Wargaming is relevant in decision making for almost any situation. It has been used by most countries governments. From planning a political campaign to trying to solve water shortages in third world countries, wargames can be used to strategize favorable outcomes. The influence that wargames has had on the world is extraordinary. It has impacted the lives of many people. Wargames are very popular among such groups as hobbyist. Wargames have been used to recreate many famous battles allowing for the analysis of reasons for victory and defeat on either side. Even political strategist have used wargaming concepts to try to understand many devastating situations that could occur in the future. The wide applicability of wargaming makes it an extremely important part of the gaming industry and has allowed for its continued existence over time.
3. Did the article stimulate debate; did you agree; have you played the game? The majority of the comments on this article only reiterated the points that the author had already made. Most people seem to agree on the importance that wargaming has on all aspects of society. It is a tool to be used in aiding critical decision making for any realistic scenario. I agree wholeheartedly with the author. In many ways, classes that we take in college are a form of war-games. We are tested on the spot to make the best decisions in certain situations that don’t directly affect at the time. Most of the skills learned will end up aiding us later on once we have left school and are face to make tough decisions in the real world.