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Um, EA? What are you smoking?
Interesting article in todays New York Times. Looks like EA has made an agreement with BP the oil company for some in-game advertising in the new upcoming Sim City Societies (SimCity 5) . Now, in-game advertising is sort of old news - slightly troubling as I don’t think it adds anything to a game and I find it offensive to market to kids - but that’s not what got my gander up.
The issue is that the oil companies engineers spoke with the sim city geeks. I’m sure BP’s engineers are smart, and I’m sure EA’s geeks are smart - that they accurately tried to define a decent relationship between pollution, type of energy, and happiness of your people. But here’s my question to the nice folks at EA:
How is BP’s commercial investment in the new Sim City effecting the pollution / energy / happiness algorithm? If I put down a coal plant in the middle of my city, is my citizens happiness different than in previous versions? What about clean and renewable energies? Are they fairly and accurately represented and modeled?
Here’s the thing: Simcity is a stable, well-know, respected game in the games-in-education space. It’s been used before we even started talking about serious games, and the COTS in education. If you’ve screwed with the simcity formula to pander to special interests or corporate interest, you will have killed one of the best games we’ve ever had.