Decoding Code

SimCityBox
This photo depicts the game, SimCity, created by Will Wright, which allows users to create different cities to their liking.

Most likely, if you live in a country where you are privileged enough to have internet access, you have probably played some sort of online game at least once in your lifetime. I remember when I was a little kid, I would spend hours on the Disney Channel website playing all sorts of show related games! Have you ever thought about the behind the scenes part of those games though?

In a blog post by Mark Sample, he analyzes the various meanings certain codes can contain. When playing a game, chances are, you’re focused on the tangible, what you can see, but Sample points out that “a player’s success in a simulation hinges upon discovering the algorithm underlying the game”, such as in the game SimCity. With this game, players construct their own cities. If the user wishes to lessen the crime in their cities, however, the only way to do so is to add more police stations into their city, even though, in real life, increasing policing hardly ever reduces the amount of crime in area.

This made me think about the implicit ideas being ingrained into our minds as we expose ourselves to different things, such as online games.

As technology advances, people are being exposed to online games as young three years old, if not, even younger.

Hopefully the games that these youngsters are playing are strictly educational, but even certain educational tools can hold implicit biases. When analyzing code, one may notice that a game meant to teach children emotions may always have the minority characters appear angry or sad, while the Caucasian characters are designed to always appear happy or excited. A detail like that may go completely unnoticed to the designers and even to certain users of the game, but a minute detail such as that has the power to influence that child’s self-esteem and how they interact with others in the future.

You might think that only programmers can decode or translate code, but, anyone can as long as they are patient enough. You might not understand everything going on within the code, but doing this can help you understand the creators purpose for doing certain things within the code and may even help you to question whether or not you want to continue supporting the game based on certain coding decisions the creator made.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

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