Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Games vs. Reality - is there a difference?

Many times when I speak about our ideas to use Online Map Games as a way to simulate spatial planning and policy scenarios, people object that even if we can get people to use these simulations and act out decisions, they would still only be 'games' and not the real thing. but what is the 'reality' these days. Most spatial planning is carried out through a GIS, using remote sensing information, at a distance, and in front of a computer. I am not saying that this is all good, but it is happening. In the light of that there is a pretty good reason to think that a simulation carried out in a similar environment - using a computer, online maps, remote collaboration - can give us a pretty good idea of what the real thing would look like.

NPR today started an investigation into the revelation of Stuxnet and the issue of Cyber-Security. their report provides a captivating story of how a facility such as a power plant, where most operations are entirely controlled by computers, gets 'infected' by a computer worm that allows a remote villain to take over the role of the control room. Sounds like a script from a movie, but the Stuxnet incident, which allegedly infected an Iranian nuclear facility and destroyed, is a very real prospect. The NPR story illustrates how training for similar attacks can be conducted through simulations, essentially computer games, that replicate the setting of a computer based control room where operators are trying to fend off an attack by the enemy team, located in another room and who essentially just takes over control after infesting the control room computer systems.

As computer games become more realistic, our reality becomes more like a computer game. Augmented reality games already blend reality with gaming such that a make-believe world is implpanted into reality and is as real as it gets for the participants and even to bystanders. It is now hard to draw a line between reality and games.


  1. There are lots of differences between reality and games. Games are total fantasy. While reality is reality. You can't do or behave like you behave in games.
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  2. I agree that SOME of the things you do in games would be totally impossible or wrong to do irl, BUT your comment misses my point, and ignores the substantial use of games and simulations for education and training purposes, as well as for future-looking decision making.