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In which Hank talks about the lessons he learned growing up playing simulation games (and does a very good job of not complaining about how mindless gaming has become.)

Sim Games taught me a huge amount about my world and also about who I am. From SImCity I learned that as much as a third of a city is taken up by its roads. From SimEarth I learned what that crustaceans existed before fish. From SimTower I learned that things are never as simple as they seem. From Civilizaiton I learned that peace is orders of magnitude more difficult and less glamorous than war. From Tycoon games I learned the value of opportunity and also how to be careful not to squander the value you have.

It seems a little silly, but there it is. You can get a lot of these games for free (all you need is DOS BOX and a good google search if you'd like to try them out.


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A Bunny
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Good morning, John. I'm glad that you're enjoying the majestic and exotic Amsterdam so much. But here in Missoula, Montana we have something that I don't think that you have in your little apartment in Amsterdam, and that is video games. I know that they...have... but I want to talk about video games today! I've been playing Portal 2 on my gaming channel, and it's super fun. I've also been playing Lego Harry Potter and Assassin's Creed. I'm about to finish up Assassin's Creed, so I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do next. I grew up in a different video game age, and while you, uh, sort of had control over the Nintendo when it wasn't filled with poop, I had to play a different kind of video game because you were bogarting the grey box. So I was playing a different sort of game, a two dimensional game, a DOS sort of game. Simulation games... that actually simulated things. And so with the hope that I will educate people who were not around during this era and provide a certain amount of nostalgia for those of us who are old enough to remember it, I am going to talk today about the best simulation games of the 1990s. So Maxis was a company that pretty much created the simulation game. They started with SimCity, and then they tried to do everything, and they ended up doing the Sims which is, I think, the most popular simulation game of all time where you get to pretend to be a person! Which is weird; you would think people would want to pretend to be something else besides a person since they get to be a person every day, but yeah. So Maxis made SimLife where you got to sort of create evolutionary biology. And they created SimAnt where you simulated an ant colony and got to take over somebody's house. That was weird. And SimHealth which was a simulation of America's health care system which, unsurprisingly, was a nightmare and not at all fun. It wasn't like "SimSurgery", it was like "SimHMOs." And then there was one of my favorites which was SimFarm which is like FarmVille except actually a simulation of a farm. Like, for example, if you don't feed your pigs, they die. You have to borrow money from the bank, and you can sell your crops on the futures market. And the only way to get rich is to plant a cash crop monoculture because you're a farmer, and that's how it is! And then there's Sid Meier's Civilization, a game that has now had five incarnations, all of them REALLY good. And there's different ways to "win" the game. You can kill everyone which is, you know, enjoyable for some people. Or you can find peace and a strength in a diverse planet with lots of different people. Maybe the warlike people will be eradicated. People who love peace can live together in harmony! SimEarth, another Maxis game, was a simulation of the entire planet, like CO2 levels and ocean currents. The actual interaction that you had with the game was pretty limited, but really, it was just a textbook in the form of a game which was good for me because I was a little nerd! And now I'm going to end with SimCity because, of course, SimCity and SimCity 2000: best simulation games of all time! I got SimCity when I was nine years old, so at that ripe young age, I got to become the mayor of Heresville, decide whether I wanted to be a destructive or benevolent leader. I was always benevolent. I, I wish I could say I was destructive. I never... I never do the evil thing in video games. People who have watched me play Assassin's Creed are laughing right now. That's because I get bored with Assassin's Creed and I just start stabbing people. I can hardly conceive of the amount of stuff that I just implicitly know about the world because of simuliza--SIMULIZATION! That's the second time I've done that! That's the second take in which I said "simulization!" But more than the truth about the world and the facts that I learned from "simulization" games-- what I really love about them is that often there's no winning; there's no goal. You can't beat SimCity. Because that's one of the weird things about life; like, we don't know why--what we're doing here. We don't know what we're supposed to do. Different parts of society and different cultures put different weights on different things, whether it's having a healthy family or fancy cars or comparing yourself to your coworkers or making lots of money. But unless you're Charlie Sheen, there's no winning. You never get to beat life. Knowing I get to decide for myself what success is, that's one of the most important lessons I ever learned. And I learned it from playing simulation games so... fancy that! John, I know that you were busy playing Nintendo games while all of this was going on, so I hope this wasn't too boring for you. Uh, but yes! That is how I became a nerd! I'll see you on Friday.