Sim City - Game Based Learning
In 1989, Maxis (later purchased by Electronic Arts) released the first version of SimCity. In junior high school, playing computer games on my dad's computer, I was hooked. I think this is the game that turned me into a lifelong geographer and tech enthusiast. I loved designing cities, experimenting with the parameters of what would make a great city. Even early on I would try to add lots of parks and build the city around the appealing features of the natural environment like rivers, bushland, etc. I would be devastated if one of the natural disasters hit and wiped out parts of my city. As the game progressed over the years it really did get better and better. There were also variants of SimCity released such as SimFarm SimCopter and my favourite spin-off Sim Safari.
Unlike a lot of games at the time of its original release (and I would argue even now) SimCity encouraged players to consider multiple interconnecting concepts and ideas, and plan strategically for a result with positive (if virtual) social outcomes. While many "shoot 'em up" games common now do involve strategic planning, for most of them the end result is killing something or someone. This game was a real stand out.
Sim CitySim City is a computer game which allows you to build your own city. Sim City requires players to make decisions about both the built and physical environment, and consider the interplay between the different aspects. Through SimCity, players automatically begin to learn the metalanguage of urban planning and urban dynamics - using terms like residential zone, commercial zone, industry, transport infrastructure at the very basic level of the game. After repeated playing, the player begins to learn about the basic needs of a functioning city and its population, about how urban places grow and decline, human behaviour patterns and how even the best laid urban plans can go awry with an unexpected disaster. I will admit the Godzilla natural hazard does test the urban illusions - but it also adds a bit of humour. Natural hazards can be disabled.
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Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.