SimCity Modding is Slightly Hypocritical

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | January 11, 2014 - 12:13 AM |
Tagged: SimCity, ea

Maxis and Electronic Arts recognize the hefty portion of SimCity's popularity as a franchise is due to its mod community. The current version could use all of the help it can get after its unfortunate first year. They have finally let the community take over... to some extent. EA is imposing certain rules upon the content creators. Most of them are reasonable. One of them can have unforeseen consequences for the LGBQT community. The first rule should apply to their expansion packs.

Starting at the end, the last three rules (#3 through #5) are mostly reasonable. They protect EA against potential malware and breaches of their EULA and Terms of Service. The fifth rule does begin to dip its toe into potential censorship but it does not really concern me.

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No-one can be "Best Friends" in North America.

The second rule, while mostly condemning illegal activity, does include the requirement that content remains within ESRB 10+ and PEGI 7. The problem with any content certification is that it limits the dialog between artists and society. In this case, references to same-sex topics (ex: Harvest Moon) in games may force a minimum T or M rating. A mod which introduces some story element where two Sims of the same gender go on a date or live together (again, like Harvest Moon) might result in interest groups rattling the ESRB's cage until EA draws a firm line on that specific topic.

EA is very good with the LGBQT community but this could get unnecessarily messy.

The first rule is a different story. It says that mods which affect the simulation for multiplayer games or features are not allowed (despite being the only official mode). They do not want a modification to give players an unfair advantage over the rest of the game's community.

You know, like maybe an airship which boosts "your struggling industry or commercial [districts]" and also brings in tourists and commuters without causing traffic on your connecting highway?

Maxis is still, apparently, exploring options for offline SimCity experiences. Even if they allow a server preference to not affect the global economy, mods would be able to be quarantined to those areas. Great, problem solved. Instead, it is somewhat left up to interpretation what is allowed. To make matters worse, the current examples of mods that we have are purely cosmetic.

SimCity is nowhere near as bad as Halo 2 Vista for its mod functionality (those mod tools were so hobbled that its own tutorial was impossible). It could actually be good. These are just areas for EA to consider and, hopefully, reconsider.

Source: Maxis

January 11, 2014 | 12:52 AM - Posted by Vilties (not verified)

Map size too small and of all the shortcomings this is the biggest and gives the game a D- until that is resolved. I am sorry but Simcity 4 is still the best SimCity game ever made.

January 11, 2014 | 02:11 AM - Posted by biohazard918

It saddens me that you weren't joking about the air ship also I question the idea that EA has been good with the LGBT community.

January 11, 2014 | 02:27 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

I do not really follow LGBT issues but they do come up fairly often. From what I have heard, EA is pretty good. For what it is worth: here's a recent press blast about one audit.

Complaints about EA are a dime a dozen but I've not heard too many about LGBT issues specifically.

January 11, 2014 | 03:37 AM - Posted by Branthog

The mod community should maintain a spine and not rescue a completely butchered product by making it worthy of playing again. Let them die by their own sword, put your modding efforts toward something more deserving, and hope they learn their lesson for next time.

January 11, 2014 | 10:09 AM - Posted by Humanitarian

Couldn't agree more.

January 11, 2014 | 08:35 AM - Posted by trisha doherty (not verified)

God damn even the gaming community is scared of GLAAD now?

Duck Commander Phil and chick-fil-a showed them to be paper tigers

January 11, 2014 | 02:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Ah, And the Amerabon rears its ugly head, better watch out for those long bearded fanatics, of the American kind! not much difference between them education wise, with their religious chauvinism, with respect to any other religion, and other, not their own system of narrow mindedness, dogmatic beliefs, these Amerabon! They have a great distain for democracy, and the concept of their own rights ending where other peoples rights begin, how A&E ever produced a show of such great "value", or any other non scripted, Jersey Shore style side show programming, confuses the hell out of me. It does prove a point that, be it north of the mason-dixon or south, that abject moralism and puritanical myopia is so common in America. Duck hunters with their shotguns, and their taliban cousins with their AK47s, or angry Joe Sixpacks and their hand guns, and other country and urban bumpkins. The northeast US is just as full of these nuts as any of the 3 other regions, and American TV is not worth watching! But thanks to the internet, I'll never have to support that over the air/pay cable non scripted CACA. A&E and MTV are on their way to the great trash bin of entertainment history.

January 11, 2014 | 02:55 PM - Posted by trisha doherty (not verified)

Not sure what you read into my comment, but I am not moralizing, nor am I religious..I am an agnostic, simply sick and tired of a certain special interest group always demanding that others call their lifestyle normal, and pointing out their two recent huge failures where real America pushed back, and got their way.

January 11, 2014 | 04:33 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

This has nothing to do with "calling their lifestyle normal" (quote). This points out all of the nasty side effects when you make a decision to censor.

Also, if you want to stop people from reading into your comments, explicitly state why you are "sick and tired of a certain special interest group always demanding that others call their lifestyle normal and pointing out their two recent huge failures where real America pushed back and got their way". That way, you will get much less people arguing the words they put in your mouth (although they might argue with the words you put in your own).

That was exactly what I did in the first paragraph of this comment.

January 11, 2014 | 08:27 PM - Posted by Branthog

Of course, the ideal solution is to provide a framework that allows both vetted/curated mods and non-vetted mods. You can choose from either pile all you like, as a player, but no assurances are made for the potentially questionable content you might encounter in the non-vetted.

I can see why that would be difficult in an online situation like this, but I think that is the way to go.

January 11, 2014 | 05:20 PM - Posted by biohazard918

As a member or the LGBT community I have never once asked to be considered normal all I want is equal treatment by the laws of this country for me and whoever I chose to live my life with be they a man or a woman. The idea that we don't need special interests groups lobbying for our rights right now is patently false It required a supreme court order in 2003 just to decriminalise homosexual relationships in my home state. Also what the hell gives you the right to use phrases like "real america" are you saying that because I am bi that I am un american? Like it or not views are and have been shifting towards a more tolerant america there have been large shifts over the last few decades in how the LGBT community is viewed once I have equal rights under the law then you can bitch about special interests groups.

January 11, 2014 | 06:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Your version of "real America" just beacuse you don't like others complaint's of unfair treatment, I have lived in all 4 reagons of America, and have experinced my fair share of being on the recieving end of the knee jerk consertives and knee jerk liberals, wrong sides, and let me tell you that America is a very puritanical, and abject moralist, and you are waxing on one of those Knee Jerk extremes. If you do not see that, then you will be seen as on that end of extreme, beacuse there can be scary Duck hunter folks, and scary left/liberal wing folks, and America is Full of left and right wing provincials (the cities and countrysides are full of them)! Ever wonder why most of the American science and High tech science products were invented by mostly people who spoke with overseas accents, and why home grown innovators like Robert Goddard were refered to by the American Press, as a mad moon man. So yes their can be radicals on both sides, but be carfull using words/phrases like "Real America", and use moderate instead, beacuse America is always in the process of internal pulling and pushing back, but people have a legitimate right to complain about discrimination, just do not expect there to be a right to discriminate. I live in Boston, and anyone who calls it liberal/Progressive, makes me laugh out loud, because some of the folks up here remind me of the Louisina Duck Hunter himself, and I never Knew Baseball was a salvation religion, but it is up here in the "SouthNorth"! I so want to move to Manhattan or San Francisco, but I lack the funds! America would be such a great place to live if it were not so full of "Real Americans". Watch out for some of those baseball fans, and socker/football hooligans, or anyone(In Any Region/Country) that treats sports as a fanatical religion.

January 11, 2014 | 08:20 PM - Posted by Branthog

Is being considerate of the vast variety of different people that might play or approach your games and other products and giving enough thought to treat them with a little dignity such a horrible thing?

Also, completely unrelated, please don't tell me you think the whole "Duck Dynasty" thing was anything more than a standard-fare ploy for ratings. A contrived controversy with a built-in and planned resolution just in time for a new season.

I'm tired of over-political correctness. I'm tired of being told that if I enjoy attractive female characters in a game or violence in a game or playing the buff hero in a game that I am bolstering the evil male patriarchy and diminishing and devaluing everyone else on the planet with my vile blah blah blah.

I'm also tired of people feeling slighted and beset by anyone choosing to treat their fellow man with kindness and consideration even though they might be a different gender, a gender bender, a different race, a different sexuality, being a different weight, a different nationality, or any other number of variations in people that have no significant bearing on anyone else but themselves.

For all I know, GLAAD could be a variation on the Rainbow Coalition (manipulative opportunistic hucksters that threaten businesses at the slightest provocation and demand payouts or compensation lest they sick the masses on them in protest and through the media) -- but that there are individuals or organizations out there capitalizing nefariously on otherwise valid concerns does not invalidate the concerns, themselves.

In other words, GLAAD is irrelevant to whether or not people should be treated with consideration. Especially as a business putting out a product you want people to consume and enjoy.

January 11, 2014 | 10:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is obvious where you support one side of the political debate, by your ommisions!

Any demands for payout, if it is not done through the courts, and the legal system, is racketeering, and if they get caught doing it, or inplying that a business will be protested on, for not offering a quid pro quo, they get chraged with extortion. Same goes for the other side of the political spectrum. Boycotting for a just cause is considered a civilized form of protest, and TV/Media production companies are caught between a rock and a hard place when their contracted "talent" stick their feet in their mouths! Local Tea partys(and not All) on their end of the political spectrum, can be like some(and Not ALL) Rainbow Coalition chapters, as there are hucksters and sociopaths among both camps. I would rather just not watch or support any non scripted TV or Media productions. When most people stop watching these programs, the Media companies will stop producing them! Just remember America is the land of the dishonerable poor, and the dishonerable working class, and wealthy! Expect to get Red Baited, Race Biated, Any-bad-Thing Baited, by the hords of xenophobic masses that populate America's cities, towns, and rural areas, xenophobes of all races, classes and other levels. This includes the Homophobes, and religious groups. Since the end of the 1970s America has become increasingly a less civilized place to live, and the only way to counteract this is to become more educated and get as far away as possable from the current popular trend of non scripted bozo Elmer Fudds, hotel heiresses, and other non professional productions. For sure some future generation will tire of all the country/rap/other tough guy with no brains culture, and will not be fooled by the MTVs and the A&Es and the other crap pushers of the current trailer park chic!

January 11, 2014 | 10:55 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah this is beginning to spiral a bit. Try to keep things civil.

January 12, 2014 | 01:35 AM - Posted by collie (not verified)

Delicate issue scott. Just remember you are a good person in a universe that loves you. Allow them to argue, it is only with discussion that we come to truth

January 12, 2014 | 07:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, and it is best to know your reader's demographics, and unfortunately these hot button issues will result in the same types of politically motivated back and forth, just as the "Fanboi" responces produce a type of reaction over who has the "Best" GPUs, etc. Civility in discourse has lost its place in current society, and it will probably be a generation, or more, before it returns.

January 11, 2014 | 11:27 AM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

Agree with first poster. Sim-City 4 was best. The dwebs keep wanting to channelize the game. Stick it on line. Force you into group play. Limit choices, police what you do, etc.

I don't need some lack wit telling me which of X kinds of cities I can build or what mods to use. If you like religious leave em in. Let you pick your flavor or turn them off if you are a God hater. The company programers should _not_ be making the call. The client should be making the call. What was fun about the game was you got to make the calls.

If the client wants a gender confused city. A super straitlaced city. A Hell hole with every vice one can come up with, a socialist workers paradise, or what ever leave it up to the client to decide what they are going for and what they want to automate or turn off and AE should keep their nose out of it.

Sure if you stick them next to each other the locals may get into fights when they visit adjacent cities but then that would just be another option to play around with.

January 11, 2014 | 08:24 PM - Posted by Branthog

Sim City is one of the most regrettable purchases of 2013, for me. I paid $90 for it and was excited for so long to play it. It was portrayed in all demos and marketing as this vast Sim City game that had some connected online aspects to it. They concealed just how small and limiting the cities, interactions, and online portions were.

I played it for a total of about five or six hours and never touched it again. I ate the loss. My biggest purchase regret... and that's saying a lot, considering I purchased BF4 (with Premium and for two people) in 2013, too. That's $250 for a game that neither of us has played for more than six hours since launch and continues to suffer major setbacks (hey, where's my Premium DLC that the XB1 users have been enjoying for a couple months, already?).

EA has managed to really tarnish two massive franchises in one year. To the point where I don't see myself buying or playing either franchise's next iteration unless they have somehow drastically cleaned up their act by then.

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