SimCity: the greatest evil?

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AuthorTopic: SimCity: the greatest evil?
Apprentice
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Communism has so permeated our culture that even the games we play reflect the popular belief in omnipotent government. For example, one of the most successful computer games of all time is the SimCity series, which requires the player to plan a city in exhaustive detail from uninhabited terrain. Over five million copies of the game have been sold, and each version to date has reflected a government-centered view of the world.

The latest version of the game, SimCity 3000, takes graphics to new highs and municipal statism to new lows. As in previous versions, the player dictator is required to use tax revenues or bonds to build critical parts of a growing city. An astonishing array of products and activities - roads, mass transit, electric utilities, water systems, airports, seaports, fire protection, police, hospitals, schools, colleges, museums, libraries, stadiums, parks, and zoning - all fall within the purview of the "mayor." The latest version adds solid waste disposal and pollution reduction to the myriad obligations of municipal government. A malevolent player can even bring down natural disasters on the hapless citizens, rounding out the list of god-like authorities and powers.

Building infrastructure, zoning, and imposing various regulations and social programs induces immigration and development in the zoned acreage. The game' s simulator factors in population density, commuting distance, crime, land value, water supplies, school systems, pollution, and a host of other variables before generating buildings for zoned sites. The government plans; the citizens dutifully react.

The equations for the simulator must have been devised by faithful socialist planners. The fatal problems of interventionism and socialist economic calculation are ignored. For example, city parks enhance land value in surrounding areas instead of becoming centers of crime and depravity as they do in the real world. Tax-funded homeless shelters, public entertainment, and command-and-control regulation tend to produce positive outcomes for cities. Private schools, churches, and charities are completely out of the picture as participants in the social order; everything important has civil government as a reference point if not a funding source. In fact, nothing happens in the game until the government spends money. In keeping with the assumptions of socialist planners, the simulator treats residents as though they are sheep, virtually incapable of new ideas of their own and in desperate need of being shepherded and corralled.

It did not seem to occur to the game' s designers that the functions they impute to municipal government can be handled by a free market (and with much greater success). Turning over fire protection, garbage disposal, education, medical care, or road management to private providers is apparently beyond their imagination. Yet the same company schizophrenically produced a similar game, SimTower, which requires private capital owners to allocate vast quantities of critical resources.

At least overtaxed, overregulated residents of SimCity can still vote with their feet. A particularly tyrannical mayor will observe citizens fleeing to neighboring towns while deserted buildings appear on the screen. This is, in fact, one of the more realistic aspects of SimCity. As long as it is easy for oppressed residents to flee, they will do so. That is one reason so many statists dream of federal taxes and regulation rather than the municipal or state equivalent. Because it is much more difficult to emigrate from a country than to leave a city or state, federal taxes and regulation can be far more oppressive before causing an exodus. If regulation to prevent urban sprawl produces refugees when enacted at the local level, it will be attempted at the federal level. If local taxes cause residents and businesses to leave for a neighboring town, then local governments will let the federal government exact most tax revenue and clamor for grants or transfers.

It would not be difficult to modify the game to substitute entrepreneurial planning for government scheming. Of course, no computer can ever come close to simulating the dynamic, complex environment in which entrepreneurs operate. As Mises demonstrated, humans do not act according to fixed equations, and computers cannot simulate the role of ideas in an economy. Yet, even with these limitations, such a game could be a useful educational tool illustrating the difficulty and rewards of entrepreneurship. SimCity 3000' s designers recognize the educational potential of such games the associated Internet site (www.simcity.com /3000) contains a teacher' s guide for the instruction of aspiring statist planners in middle schools and high schools.

We cannot lay all the blame for statist games at the feet of the software designers, however. Most game buyers assume that transportation, utilities, zoning, and city stadiums are the responsibility of civil government. As game software is bought primarily for entertainment, not education, we cannot expect software firms to sacrifice profits by contradicting commonly held ideas. Our games therefore reflect the increasing statism of our society.

This has not always been the case. The ever-popular Monopoly board game includes virtually no government each player acts as a member of the business community and not as an autocrat. Every aspect of the 66-year-old game is dependent upon private contract, entrepreneurial decisions, and the uncertainty of the roll of the dice. Only the chance of being arbitrarily thrown in jail hints at the presence of government. Water, electricity, and railroads are all privately provided. The Monopoly game is economically unsophisticated and imperfectly simulates the effects of its namesake market structure the market is not a zero-sum game but it at least reflects an entrepreneur-centered view of the world.

Until a freedom-minded software developer comes up with an entertaining, entrepreneur-centered urban simulator, we must suffer the insult to sound economics when playing SimCity. Perhaps such a game could even help reverse the trend of municipal statism.
Posts: 9 | Registered: Tuesday, November 20 2001 08:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 7557
Profile #1
Sim City 3 is now years old.

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Insanity is overated. Grammar is not, a pity I am so literal with the damn stuff.
Posts: 942 | Registered: Sunday, October 8 2006 07:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #2
SimCity doesn't seem nearly as bad as all the games out there that stress individualism. Just think about all the games that put you in the shoes of a wandering adventurer, sought out by the government to help save the world. Games like this usually make the government seem utterly helpless, and your character is often able to complete amazing feats of skill that entire armies were previously unable to do. Games like this are far worse as they give the false hope that a single person can make a difference in the world.

In real life, your vote doesn't count, and if you try to go up against the enemy alone, you will die. In fact, your only real chance to actually meaningfully effecting the world at all is to join the government and actually be the one making those SimCity-like decisions that will effect the lives of thousands.

[ Sunday, January 27, 2008 13:41: Message edited by: Emperor Tullegolar ]

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #3
What makes you think SimCity is not all about simulating a top-down police state, or at least a police city? What makes you think it is not deliberate propaganda created to help tomorrow's leaders start oppressing today?

—Alorael, who is about 70% certain that the CIA already has ways to unleash fires, floods, storms, monsters, aliens, and other horrors upon an unsuspecting populace at will. There is no longer anything natural about natural disasters.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Agent
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #4
An interesting take of events you have there, Sgt. Pocky. Affluent people and/or the government do try to brainwash people via media, but I doubt such measures occur in SimCity.

But hey, I love SC2000.

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Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
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Tullegolar, your mistake is thinking that RPGs are intended to make you think you can take the role of adventurer. Actually, they exist to train people to accept the morality that the adventurers impose on those they interact with. Entire races (such as goblins) are treated as evil and deserving only death at the hands of those who claim that their bloodthirsty treasurehunt puts them on the side of justice.

Of course, it's no better if you aren't a goblin. Innocent townspeople, harshly categorised by "level" and unable to grow, rely for survival on their ability to offer material rewards to the armed thugs who steal and terrorise without remorse or mercy, and who will kill anyone for the slightest chance of gaining something.

That is the world we are being forced to accept by these "games".

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Posts: 1798 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #6
Hey, those goblins attacked me first! It doesn't make me racist if I kill a couple people in the hood in self-defense if they were trying to steal my gold! Besides, goblins aren't a race, they're a species, like a rat infestation. You have a problem with killing rats? They don't even have souls! And there is no reason all those NPC couldn't rise through the ranks and achieve a status like Erika or Rentar-Ihrno, they're just lazy.

Fear not, though. I have discovered the perfect game for the lot of you.

[ Sunday, January 27, 2008 14:05: Message edited by: Emperor Tullegolar ]

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 6821
Profile #7
quote:
Originally written by Khoth:

Tullegolar, your mistake is thinking that RPGs are intended to make you think you can take the role of adventurer. Actually, they exist to train people to accept the morality that the adventurers impose on those they interact with. Entire races (such as goblins) are treated as evil and deserving only death at the hands of those who claim that their bloodthirsty treasurehunt puts them on the side of justice.

Of course, it's no better if you aren't a goblin. Innocent townspeople, harshly categorised by "level" and unable to grow, rely for survival on their ability to offer material rewards to the armed thugs who steal and terrorise without remorse or mercy, and who will kill anyone for the slightest chance of gaining something.

That is the world we are being forced to accept by these "games".

This one of the best posts I've ever read on these boards. :)

Fortunately, some RPGs have found ways around this by replacing the gratuitous mass-murdering stuff with something more interesting, but there aren't that many.
Posts: 363 | Registered: Wednesday, February 22 2006 08:00
Agent
Member # 4574
Profile #8
Whatever. Let's, for debating purposes assume that SimCity is Socialist. What is so bad about Socialism?

It's not like it's Communism, and most every country doesn't practice pure Capitalism.

Now, I personally am a New Socialist. Which is to say, I believe that the best form of the economy can be found by having certain industries, like water purification or the military, be controlled by the gov't, and the others left to the free market.

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Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 2123
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I would very much like to see medical care placed into the goverments hands (in the U.S) so that it can emulate Canada, the U.K. and other countries that use the socialist medical care system.

At least people can afford to live in that system.

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Posts: 228 | Registered: Monday, October 21 2002 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 302
Profile Homepage #10
quote:
Originally written by Goldenking:

Now, I personally am a New Socialist. Which is to say, I believe that the best form of the economy can be found by having certain industries, like water purification or the military, be controlled by the gov't, and the others left to the free market.
What you've described is basically Stalinism
Posts: 9 | Registered: Tuesday, November 20 2001 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7298
Profile #11
quote:
Originally written by Rowen:

I would very much like to see medical care placed into the goverments hands (in the U.S) so that it can emulate Canada, the U.K. and other countries that use the socialist medical care system.

At least people can afford to live in that system.

Do you really want to trust the same people who run a screwed up health care system to be poking around in your organs?

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Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
Agent
Member # 4574
Profile #12
quote:
Originally written by SGT. POCKY:

quote:
Originally written by Goldenking:

Now, I personally am a New Socialist. Which is to say, I believe that the best form of the economy can be found by having certain industries, like water purification or the military, be controlled by the gov't, and the others left to the free market.
What you've described is basically Stalinism

Really? Sounds nothing like it to me. Go ahead and describe Stalinism, I've seen multiple definitions before. Like having a Communist Dictatorship with a presonality cult, and purgings. Which is not what I described. In fact, it sounds like you're just trying to smear what I described.

I didn't really say much about the state, but preferrably it would be democratically elected, federal, etc. But let's not get into my views on democracy.

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"I'm happy I'm the mentally disturbed person I am." -Nioca
"Yes, Iffy is a demon." -Iffy
"To fly, throw yourself at the ground and miss." -The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Posts: 1186 | Registered: Friday, June 18 2004 07:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #13
Stalin was communist in rhetoric alone. His power to the "people" was code for "people he favored" i.e. an oligarchy.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #14
So, is municipal statism a good thing, or a bad thing? I mean, I've never played Sim, so I'll take your word on the similarity, and the only thing left is the moral play.

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #15
quote:
Originally written by Safey:

quote:
Originally written by Rowen:

I would very much like to see medical care placed into the goverments hands (in the U.S) so that it can emulate Canada, the U.K. and other countries that use the socialist medical care system.

At least people can afford to live in that system.

Do you really want to trust the same people who run a screwed up health care system to be poking around in your organs?

Doctors really aren't usually the ones running health care. That honor falls to politicians.

—Alorael, who doesn't know if you feel comfortable with doctors poking around in your organs. He personally doesn't, but that's because he finds organ poking inherently uncomfortable. If someone has to do it, he'd rather it were a doctor.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #16
By the way, a phrase like "socialist medical care system" is rather vague; if you want to describe specifically the system in Canada or the UK, use a term like "single-payer system." Compared to the U.S.'s health care system, nearly every system in the developed world is socialist.

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Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 2984
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Welcome back, Scorpius!
Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7298
Profile #18
quote:
Originally written by For I Have Tasted The Fruit:

quote:
Originally written by Safey:

quote:
Originally written by Rowen:

I would very much like to see medical care placed into the goverments hands (in the U.S) so that it can emulate Canada, the U.K. and other countries that use the socialist medical care system.

At least people can afford to live in that system.

Do you really want to trust the same people who run a screwed up health care system to be poking around in your organs?

Doctors really aren't usually the ones running health care. That honor falls to politicians.

—Alorael, who doesn't know if you feel comfortable with doctors poking around in your organs. He personally doesn't, but that's because he finds organ poking inherently uncomfortable. If someone has to do it, he'd rather it were a doctor.

It was meant figuratively not literally. Bureaucrats and politicians have a way of taking a problem and making it worse.

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A rock has weight whether you admit it or not
Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #19
quote:
Originally written by Safey:

Bureaucrats and politicians have a way of taking a problem and making it more expensive.
FYT.

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #20
Our system is both bad and expensive, and it already requires a huge bureaucratic overhead to deal with various insurances and the potential lack thereof.

—Alorael, who is in favor of a single payer system because it can have only two outcomes: health care improves or it gets worse, the political types revert back to the current system, and everyone stops grumbling for a while. Yes, this is entirely serious.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7298
Profile #21
I'm not completely opposed to a free health care. To get a system on that scale to work would not necessarily have the degree of success wanted and there are rarely any easy answers.

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A rock has weight whether you admit it or not
Posts: 479 | Registered: Wednesday, July 12 2006 07:00
By Committee
Member # 4233
Profile #22
Wow, that's a lot of assertions without any supporting evidence! No system is "free"; money has to come from somewhere, and in the case of single-payer systems, it's the taxpayer. Furthermore, systems on that scale that work well pretty much exist in all other industrialized nations in the world. While there would likely be much pain in transitioning to such a system, once it's established, there's no reason it wouldn't be very effective. Consider also that the US would have the benefit of every other nation's experiences to draw from.

"Bureaucrats and politicians have a way of taking a problem and making it worse."

They also have a way of taking a problem and making it better. I invite you to open your eyes and consider all of the infrastructure surrounding you that you take advantage of everyday without a second thought, among the myriad other things that your tax dollars support and that would never exist otherwise, thanks to the problems of collective action and how the "rational" mind functions. See the Tragedy of the Commons.
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
? Man, ? Amazing
Member # 5755
Profile #23
quote:
Originally written by Drew:

See the Tragedy of the Commons.
I already did. It's all gone now.

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Synergy, et al - "I don't get it."

Argon - "I'm at a loss for words..."
Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Agent
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #24
Well, the health care system of thirty-five years ago seemed to work just fine.

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Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00

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