New SimCity game puts people in the shoes of government

  • Whilst the game is laced with fictitious city hazards (roaming giant lizards to name one), Sims have started to incorporate some real decision making into their gaming
  • The next release will see gamers manage resources, natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods, cleanliness and education levels, and compete in world city leagues on each of these issues
  • “Gaming for good” trends could help to engage the public on environmental issues, and raise awareness of the complexities and trade-offs involved with environmental decision making. Imagine a virtual town that needs power and food supplies – gamers could balance the costs and benefits of using land for nuclear, renewable, or biofuel energy production, with food production.
  • Simulation games may seem trivial but they could  represent a key decision making tool for policy makers or businesses in the near future. In the UK, the National Trust’s My Farm project is used to help people reconnect with food and farming online. Expansion of this concept within a limitless virtual environment could easily connect with thousands of users testing the implications of their  decision making  by changing parameters such as waste collection frequency, population size, river flow, or pesticide use.

Exploitation of simulation technologies could offer government and industry  a method of visualising and simplifying what are otherwise extremely complex decisions and educating the public about the key trade-offs considered by Government. 

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About Hayley Shaw

Knowledge Exchange Manager at Cranfield University's Centre for Environmental Risks and Futures (CERF). Sharing the latest news from Cranfield, and insights from across the industry. All things risk, environment, and the future.
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One Response to New SimCity game puts people in the shoes of government

  1. Dr M C Smith says:

    While I agree these games can be useful at engaging and communicating ideas of balancing different needs together, there is an obvious danger that they present a naive understanding of decision making processes – i.e. you become an autocratic and benevolent leader, who doesn’t have to worry about submitting an environmental impact assessment, seeking transport and works act approval, the inevitable public enquiry etc. and this can eventually lead to disillusionment by the public.

    As an aside, I do think it strange how society views government as a non-expert activity – if I want surgery I go to a doctor, a car fixed I go to a mechanic, run a city or a country, oh anyone can do that! If we are not careful, I think there is maybe a danger that computer games can undo a lot of the progress in establishing professional decision making disciplines in government – remember a dentist designed a transport plan for Bath, and an Artist tried to become Chief Planning Officer for Liverpool in the 1960’s. This is also why we continue to have debates over what constitutes an ‘expert’ in decision making processes, and what skills and attributes they require.

    As an aside number 2, given we more about the surface of the moon than the floor of the oceans, who is to say an army of amphibians will not one day rise from the sea and attack our cities? Improbable yes, but impossible?….

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