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One SimCity Per Child 253

Posted by Zonk
from the now-that's-edumacation dept.
SimHacker writes "Electronic Arts has donated the original 'classic' version of Will Wright's popular SimCity game to the One Laptop Per Child project. SimCity is the epitome of constructionist educational games, and has been widely used by educators to unlock and speed-up the transformational skills associated with creative thinking. It's also been used in the Future City Competition by seventh- and eighth-grade students to foster engineering skills and inspire students to explore futuristic concepts and careers in engineering. OLPC SimCity is based on the X11 TCL/Tk version of SimCity for Unix developed and adapted to the OLPC by Don Hopkins, and the GPL open source code will soon be released under the name "Micropolis", which was SimCity's original working title. SJ Klein, director of content for the OLPC, called on game developers to create 'frameworks and scripting environments — tools with which children themselves could create their own content.' The long term agenda of the OLPC SimCity project is to convert SimCity into a scriptable Python module, integrate it with the OLPC's Sugar user interface and Cairo rendering library. Eventually they hope to apply Seymour Papert's and Alan Kay's ideas about constructionist education and teaching kids to program."
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One SimCity Per Child

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  • Too Late... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:46PM (#21286815)
    I see I'm too late to beat our cynical Slashdotters to the punch. Instead of complaining about how evil EA is, and what kind of ulterior motives they may have, can we simply not recognize this as a net Good Thing? I know I learned a lot of planning for the future, fiscal management, and balancing multiple (sometimes conflicting) priorities while still achieving overall success, from that game as a child. Technical issues aside from making the game run, this will be a great gain for OLPC users.
  • by Its_My_Hair (703796) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:53PM (#21286917)
    In that case, maybe this is better suited? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SimFarm [wikipedia.org]
  • by Fackamato (913248) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:55PM (#21286939)
    Abandonware doesn't in any way mean it's free..
  • Re:sim (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boyter (964910) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @05:56PM (#21286961) Homepage
    The trick to sim farm was plant 4 crops of strawberries. Then keep buying land till you have 8 crops of them. Finally convert all of them to oranges. They have the advantage of only needing to be sprayed once every now and then, and having the crop sell for a bucketload of money. Using that strat you can easily beat the game and start planting whatever the hell you want.
  • by SimHacker (180785) * on Thursday November 08, 2007 @06:00PM (#21287021) Homepage Journal

    SimCity isn't abandonware, and even if it were, you couldn't distribute or run it on the OLPC, for technical and legal reasons. The point is to extend and adapt the open source code for the needs of education, not just run the old version under an emulator.

    -Don

  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday November 08, 2007 @06:00PM (#21287029) Homepage Journal

    I really don't see where they are going with this being educational. Get out on a jobsite and start pouring concrete. Things are a little different than they are in that game. I would know.

    A game, used in a supervised setting for educational use, with an actual plan: Growth in learning.

    A game, used in an unsupervised setting, without any plan: Is just a leisure pursuit.

  • Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @06:12PM (#21287195)
    Unsupervised games are the rock foundation of human society. What exactly do you think toddlers, kids and teenagers do when they play cowboys and indians, marbles, crash-the-truck, imitate-mom-and-dad-in annoying-ways, spin-the-bottle or other completely random, unsupervised, goal-less games?

    I agree that there's a need for goal-driven and supervised learning (whether it takes the form of games or not), but games played in a leisurely fashion, without specific goals, are just as important in the development of a child. Not only that, but they are the only way that children can actually grow on their own, unless their educator/parents are supremely gifted and know the children better than they know themselves.

    Education is more than just knowing how to pour concrete. I pity the soul that thinks that it isn't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 08, 2007 @06:19PM (#21287271)
    That's right! It is impossible to learn anything without an adult standing around telling you what to think!

    People like you are the reason I hated school.
  • Re:Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by benna (614220) <mimenarrator@g m a i l .com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @07:58PM (#21288397) Journal
    The dirty little secret is that the "goal-driven real world" is just another game that a lot of adults happen to play.
  • by duncan bayne (544299) <dhgbayne@gmail.com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @08:02PM (#21288431) Homepage
    Interesting to see your post was modded as flamebait too ... it looks like the /. definition of flamebait is "a post with which I disagree."
  • by dunng808 (448849) <osp.aloha@com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @08:40PM (#21288859) Homepage Journal
    This comment is funny, but it relies on a common misperception that the poor kids for whom the OLPC was created have no idea what modern urban life is like. Most of them live in or in the shadow of large modern cities, Johannisberg, Kolkata, Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta, Manila, and Mexico City, just to name a few. They have plenty of opportunities to see modern life, they just don't have much opportunity to participate.

    Let me help you out with a simple analogy. You read slashdot, right? So, you have plenty of opportunities to see beautiful women, but all you get to do is watch, from a distance. That's why you bought that stick of Axe Deoderant.

    Now do you understand?

  • missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fifth Earth (1172333) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @09:45PM (#21289381)
    People who complain that SimCity and its successors don't accurately model city building and management are missing the point. No simulation can totally model the complexities of a city. The reason SC is educational is because it teaches skills like creative problem-solving, planning, and risk-reward tradeoffs. What's the optimum road layout? Is it cost-effective to use parks to offset the unhappiness of high taxes? Will that nuclear power plant allow for greater growth in future years, or will the cost of replacing it in 50 years bankrupt me? Hell, any game that teaches people to budget and stay out of debt is a good thing--imagine what the national debt would be like if the President had played SC. (okay, that's over the top, but very few people have a grasp of how debt really works)

    So what if the only way to reduce crime is building police stations. The educational part isn't the concept that police prevent crime, the educational part is the skills learned in figuring out how many stations to build, and in what locations, to achieve an acceptable crime rate while not spending too much money.
  • by dryeo (100693) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:51AM (#21291521)
    I guess this is the reason that the US of A has the highest ratio of police to civilians in the world, as it gives them the lowest crime rate in the world.
  • IMACHEAT (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sw1tchd0ct0r (630126) on Sunday November 11, 2007 @07:26AM (#21312365)
    Someone must consider the socioeconomic ramifications of every child in the third world thinking that they can become rich simply by typing IMACHEAT

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