This reflexive decision-making process is the key to video games. It conducts the game simulation toward the emergence of hierarchical organization, functional differentiation and social segregation. It also stimulates the didactic power of games: players have to explore their possibilities in order to learn the underlying model and then adapt their choices.
They rely on arbitrary choices and intuitive rules to offer simplification of some reality. Video games are designed to be challenging and enjoyable over time. For both video games and modelling, the simulation relies on arbitrary parameters or structures that may not reflect, or even try to reflect, reality.
The difference is that in the case of modelling tools, those structures are or at least should be designed to bring new knowledge or new understanding Pumain et al. What is more, this arbitrary choice is not apparent to the player; it is buried under the code. This has several limitations. First, it is not obvious that all players behave in a strictly rational manner. Some players do not play only to beat the best score, reach the maximum level or rush to finish the game.
Finally, rational logic and the pursuit of performance do not always get the upper hand in a game. If not choosing the best possible choice often leads to failure, then favouring it systematically may prevent access to certain contents of the game. Rational choice and reflexive analysis may guide players, but if they replace the game, they kill the play Caillois Also, if regulations are too strong and limit possibilities too much, then players may be frustrated or discouraged by the game.
On the contrary, if the regulations have no effect or very little effect, then they break the interactivity and turn the player into a spectator. When extreme, effectiveness and regulations may kill the game, but this threshold is probably relative and may vary from one player to another Juul Furthermore, many of the arbitrary choices made by game designers are strongly ideological Bogost A game aims to be fun and entertaining, while a model aims to produce knowledge and engender debate.
In short, game mechanisms are often guiding player actions without accordance to any spatial model. They use classical models and may have didactical applications. They even appear to go one step further than models and simulations used by scholars. Video games appear to be less caricatured simplifications, because they take into account vertical growth, transportation networks, spatial competition, firms, households, environment, etc.
However, it is far from obvious that featuring all of these interacting elements at once makes them more efficient models. This can be illustrated by their implementation of the environmental framework. Video games take into account a wide range of environmental effects. The topography constrains constructions and networks as well as the availability of natural resources Civilization , the presence of rivers facilitates trade Caesar or pollutions and recreational opportunities SimCity, City Life.
The SimCity and Civilization series promote a specific representation of the environment, in which natural determinisms remain decisive, while human technology will always triumph in the end. The environmental framework is malleable virtually at will: its presence in the simulation is mainly cosmetic.
In SimCity or City Life, for example, to flatten land is very inexpensive, and the environmental framework has no landscape or hedonic value 10 a private housing estate will not have higher value on a hill with a beautiful view over a river. The physical environment is mostly considered as available land to be urbanized. Complex systems models are difficult to validate, which is why models and simulation are constructed in an explicit way or at least they should be : explicating assumptions, exposing arbitrary choices and divulging chains of relations.
Conversely, in video games, most of the simplifications remain hidden to the player, and the underlying models are not explicit; rather, they are buried under the core-code of the software. This is supposed to induce pleasure from the game. However, it is possible to do it without taking full notice of the model. The same can be said for video games, even the apparently most realistic city-builder games.
Indeed, video games are squared spatial representations and metaphors whose main purpose is to induce pleasure and fun. They are appealing because of their graphic qualities and appear as less schematic simplifications because they feature more interacting elements at once. Moreover, playing at city builder games can lead to a reflexive approach of urban dynamics. This is why urban studies scholarships have recently employed video games.
In short, video games and simulation software implement rules and models in almost opposite means. Therefore, the game may induce the players to learn the model, but not really to understand it or to produce new knowledge. Nevertheless, video games could be an invitation to reinsert human factor into models, particularly for online games which rely on interactions between many players.
The response is not so easy. Serious games are video games explicitly developed for educational or communication purposes. They are already the result of this apparent convergence between video games, models and simulation tools.
Indeed, the design and exploration of serious games rely on practices other than those related to commercial video games Alvarez et al. Furthermore, playing is always a serious activity. It is more a question of making these tools candy eyed than fun in order to widen their public and to sustain the development of simulation software.
However, even the most powerful or innovating 3D engines bring no new knowledge to their users. Nonetheless, certain resemblances between the design of certain simulations and former video games are striking. For example, many models and simulations of urban growth or segregation have categories close to SimCity : three types of population poor, average, wealthy , a strict zoning residences, sometimes services and industries , the same kind of amenities, etc.
This account leads us to question the possible cultural transfers, conscious or not, between video games and simulation software. If you are using urban models and complex simulations and also playing video games, please feel free to contact us! Adams P. Allen P. Alvarez J. Augier P. Baark E. Houndmills, Macmillan Press.
Banos A. Barnes T. Batty M. Bogost I. An Approach to Videogame Criticism. Cambridge: MIT Press. Bonnefoy J. Bretagnolle A. Bura S. Brunet R. Chess S. Caillois R. Le masque et le vertige , Paris, Folio. Epstein J. Fortin T. Frasca G. Frye B. Gaber J. Gordon I. Rethinking urban competitiveness, cohesion and Governance , Basingstoke: Palgrave, Macmillan. Gordon E. Guhathakurta S. Haggett P. Holland J. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Huizinga J. Juul J. Koster R.
Scottsdale, Paraglyph Press. Krugman P. Lacoste Y. Lemoy R. Nesson R. Nitsche M. Passeron J. Parkinson M. In Boddy M. Competitiveness, Cohesion and Urban Governance , eds. Pumain D. Occelli S. Rollings A. Boston, New Riders. Rufat S. Sanders L. Salen K. Schelling T. Simon H. Smith J. Starr P. Squire K. Stockburger A. Modalities of space in video and computer games , Ph.
D thesis, University of the Arts, London. Wegener M. Journal of the American Planning Association, No. Fewer than two adjacent cells implies the cell dies from isolation, more than three and it dies from overcrowding. This game allows exploring the countless kinds of complexity that emerge from such simplicity and to find the self-perpetuating configurations.
Holland, Although these games allow the player to act as a criminal, they re-enact the values of the Western legal system by teaching him the futility of crime Chess But this is not a specificity of city builders. Our testing established that tensions spring up as soon as two different classes coexist in the same building or in contiguous housing.
The more these populations are different and numerous, the faster conflicts become violent from quarrels to riots. In City Life , if the program took too often into account the presence of some communities in the vicinity at the very moment an inhabitant installs, there would be too high inertia of the social composition of the city, therefore an uninteresting challenge proposed to the player, and actually little interest in the game.
Thus, there is a necessarily arbitrary search for balance between the various factors considered, in order to avoid both boredom and frustration, which is critical for game designers. Furthermore, players may consider their city on aesthetic criteria, but this is not part of the game. University of Cergy Pontoise, Paris, France samuel. University of Tours, France hovig.
Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography. Sommaire - Document suivant. Science et Toile. Plan Video games as modelling tools. From the game to the model and back. Model and video game as both simulation and representation. Unfolding the representations behind the models. Video games and the emergence of hierarchical and socio-spatial differentiation.
Micro-management, emerging territories at different scales. Distinct spatial differentiations according to modelling choices. The limits of using games as models or simulation tools. Playing a game is not conceiving a model. Beating the model or winning the game? How are arbitrary choices made?
Conclusions: are video games really one step further in modelling? Video games as modelling tools 5 Traditional and more recent research on video games have shown how challenging it is to define a game Huizinga , Caillois , Koster From the game to the model and back 7 From a process rather than an interface point of view, video games similar to SimCity are close to the modelling tools used in research. It is Our testing e In City Life , if t Bibliographie Adams P.
Touraine A. An example of this is when the view is zoomed out, the player will hear a fuller version of the score. When zoomed in, certain elements of the tracks are taken away. This is done to help make room for all the activity going on in the player's city. The music tracks are also written with population in mind, and the game exposes the full playlist as the player's city develops and grows. The initial release of SimCity on March 5, in North America suffered multiple severe issues, particularly regarding the game's requirement for a persistent Internet connection.
After the game was made available for purchase through EA's Origin delivery service, the high volume of users attempting to download and connect to EA's game servers caused network outages. Players reported experiencing frequent problems during gameplay due to the outages such as long loading times, disconnections, crashing , and loss of saved game data.
The server problems and negative feedback led some publications to refer to the launch as "disastrous"    and others have compared the launch unfavorably to that of Diablo III , which experienced similar problems when it was first released. It was also discovered that there were several issues with the GlassBox engine such as traffic taking the shortest route instead of the route with the most available capacity  and sims not living persistent lives but rather going to the nearest available workplace for work and nearest available house after work.
EA responded to server issues by adding additional servers and developing a server patch that disables "non-critical gameplay features [including] leaderboards, achievements and region filters. She went on to acknowledge that "many are experiencing server instability" and that "players across Europe and Asia are experiencing the same frustration".
She confirmed that the number of servers would be increased stating "We added servers today, and there will be several more added over the weekend. Senior producer Kip Katsarelis commented that the game servers were constantly at maximum capacity, partly due to the large number of players connected for extended periods of time, which has made it difficult for new users to connect: "We added more servers to accommodate the launch in [Australia, Japan, and Europe] In an article about "games as a service", Nathan Grayson from Rock, Paper, Shotgun said that the situation was unacceptable and that EA was handling the situation as well as could be expected, but the problem was that they had damaged the idea of "games as a service" and lamented the fact that games publishers hadn't learned from previous similar launch failures: "this just keeps on happening.
Then nature runs its course, and developers and publishers alike scramble to glue one billion bits of finely pulped turtle back together again," and added "A strong service — the kind people latch onto and ultimately demand as the norm — doesn't just react. On March 8, , EA suspended some of SimCity ' s online marketing campaigns because of the game's ongoing technical problems. In a blog post on March 8, Bradshaw gave an update on the server situation, reporting that the issues had improved and server space had expanded, but acknowledged that some users were still suffering stability problems.
She also explained the reason for the failure; "So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta" and called their error "dumb". She reported that server capacity had been increased by percent and that errors had dropped by 80 percent.
She also promised another update during the weekend. She also announced an offer of a free game from the EA catalogue, saying "I know that's a little contrived — kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We're hoping you won't stay mad and that we'll be friends again when SimCity is running at percent. The launch failures also led to fans of the series filing a petition through We the People on the official White House website calling for "an industry-wide return policy for video games that rely on remote servers and DRM to function properly" which was later covered by mainstream news organizations such as NBC News.
To compensate for the issues during the release, EA offered to early purchasers a free game in March All Origin users who purchased and registered the game before March 23 were allowed to choose a game for free among a small list of titles including SimCity 4 , Battlefield 3 , Dead Space 3 , Mass Effect 3 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Since the initial release, Maxis has distributed patches to the game via the in-game patching utility that automatically runs when the game is launched on a user's computer. These patches have addressed, though not entirely fixed, among many other things, issues such as traffic intelligence, game-save rollbacks, and emergency vehicle routing. Maxis has continued to update the game to improve gameplay quality and eliminate bugs. A month following the game launch day, Maxis had released 8 official patches, bringing the game to version 1.
This patch included the addition of a bridge and tunnel tool, letting players create overpasses and underpasses. The update also improved traffic, making it smarter. An offline mode was released in Update An expansion called Cities of Tomorrow was announced on September 19, It was released on November 12, and is set 50 years in the future. It features new regions, technology, city specializations, and transportation methods.
The MegaTowers are massive buildings built floor by floor with each floor having a specific purpose, being residential, commercial or to provide services like schools, security, power and entertainment. Each floor can provide jobs, services or housing for hundreds of citizens at the same time.
The Academy is a futuristic research center that provides a signal called "ControlNet" to power up structures and improvements developed there and the OmegaCo is composed of factories used to produce an elusive commodity only known as "Omega" to increase the profits from residential, commercial and industrial buildings alike and manufacture drones to further improve the coverage of healthcare, police, fire services or just be used by citizens to perform shopping in their places, thus reducing traffic.
The expansion also supports "futurization", in which futuristic buildings tend to "futurize" the buildings, roads, and services around them by significantly blending the roads and buildings to simply make them look more futuristic, such as differences in traffic lights they have a different sprite , turning service cars more futuristic futurizing a police station will significantly change the cars and architecture , and so on.
Buildings that will futurize the vicinity are distinguished with a hexagon pattern at the lower part of the building when viewed in the Construction screen. At E3 in June , SimCity won 8 awards out of 24 nominations. The Gamescom jury described the video game as having "fantastic graphics" and "struck the right balance between retaining the trademarks of the old parts and making it interesting for beginners". This prompted a blog response from Bradshaw, in which she defended the always-online component with the comment that "real cities do not exist in a bubble; they share a region and affect one another.
However, Rock, Paper, Shotgun pointed out after the release that cloud resources were not used to support gameplay computation but simply to support inter-city and social media mechanisms. After the first beta, EA Management staff discussed Q4 results during which Peter Moore commented on the success of the beta, " SimCity , a completely new version of the treasured classic, includes deep online features.
More than , people played the SimCity beta last weekend, Upon release, SimCity was met with mostly mixed reviews, many of which were downgraded after reviewers received reports of server problems. The issues surrounding the launch affected critics' opinions and reviews of the game. Eurogamer , CNET , and IGN delayed their reviews due to being unable to connect to the game servers,    and Polygon , which had reviewed the game before the launch, later dropped its 9.
SimCity was also criticized for the size of the area the player is given to build a city; critics have noted it to be significantly smaller than what was available in previous games. Maxis responded to this criticism by stating that this was a deliberate compromise to ensure that the game would run smoothly on the majority of users' computers.
Maxis has acknowledged that city size is a major complaint, but has stated that they are not currently working on an increase in size. SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow received mixed reviews from critics. Brett Todd for GameSpot noted that "you're left with a game that hides the same dissatisfying experience under a more attractive surface," calling the expansion "more of the same. SimCity sold over 1.
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