Mobile Games, SimCity BuildIt, and Neoliberalism

A screenshot of a city in SimCity BuildIt

EA Mobile’s SimCity BuildIt, released for iOS and Android in 2014, is the newest entry in the historic SimCity franchise. With forty million players worldwide, SimCity BuildIt is also the most played SimCity game ever released (Lazarides, 2015). Its expansive international community seems, at first, to procedurally deliver on the promises of free market globalization, achieving an equitable marketplace in which anyone, anywhere can participate. While playing SimCity BuildIt, I have traded goods with players who speak Arabic, French, Japanese, and Russian (though we have never exchanged a word). Continue Reading

Simulating Life

Political Game Design

difga2

It is useful for me to think of games as simulations. Although not all games are explicitly simulations, they all come to life by representing some activity as a prerequisite to being able to afford the player to partake in that activity. While this activity implies some sort of closed environment–be it through physical ability or problem solving–it is also possible to use this simulated aspect as a way to open up to the world around us and, as we will take a closer look here, to politics and political systems. This article aims to expose the inherently political aspect of game development. Having gone to school for both political science and game development, I have seen political questions appear over and over in the design and development of both my games and those of my colleagues. By taking the particular topic of political philosophy of the Enlightenment, I hope to show how computer simulations can help us in acknowledging the politics in designing and developing games. Continue Reading

Real Soccer

Strategy & Realism in FIFA 14

Commentary - FIFA14

In recent years, authenticity has also meant a commitment to FIFA accurately modeling the on field action of modern soccer, moving closer towards realistic simulation. However, FIFA is a necessarily incomplete version of soccer and can only prioritize some aspects of the sport it seeks to adapt. This article examines the priorities of FIFA’s simulation, how they shape the game and underpin its ambitions for realism. I will suggest that, while FIFA models many aspects of real soccer well, that which it does not adapt–complex strategy and teamwork– undermines its authenticity and contributes to significant gameplay problems. Continue Reading