Casti, J. L. (1997). Would-be worlds: How simulation is changing the frontiers of science (pp. 1-36). John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Starr, P. (1994). Seductions of Sim Policy as a Simulation Game. American Prospect, 5(17), Available online: http://www.prospect.org/print/V5/17/starr-p.html
Turkle, S. (1997). Seeing through computers education in a culture of simulation. The American Prospect Online, 8(31), Available at http://www.prospect.org/print/V8/31/turkle-s.html
Even thought these three articles were published a decade ago, they form a trinity and provide some good vision on understanding the issues of simulation.
Casti, J. L. (1997). Casti's article is part of a book which focused on simulation. The section we have is the first chapter, consequently, it forms the introduction of the book. It started with some popular scene in sports which is attractive to readers to attach on the content. With the two well-known cases of World Cup of football and Super Bowl games, Casti provided a structure of questions that is very concrete in understanding simulations. After a good illustration of two cases, FBPRO95 and an electronic version of planetary objects, Casti provided an initiative discussion of "model" which it not related to mathematical symbols or lines of computer codes: experimental, logical, mathematical/computational, and theoretical. Furthermore, Casti constructed predictive, explanatory, and Prescriptive models to explain more real cases happening in our daily life which is other than computer-based simulation. But all these discussion was centered by the author's focus on electronic world, the simulation has computer or cyberspace origin. This is an informative article that proposed a rich theoretical perspective in explaining they mechanism of simulation, how actually some of the simulation was and has been designed. From the lines, Casti implicitly express the feeling of excitement of the coming era of electronic world.
Starr, P. (1994). Starr applied a very skillful layout connecting the simulation product, the Sim- serial games, and the simulation practiced by the real world government department, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He also mentioned the fact that showed the necessity of understanding the phenomena of simulation games: "Now the workers were asked to make decisions based on information flashing on a computer screen. this shift deemphasized sensory knowledge and put a premium on more abstract, 'intellective' capacities".
Starr classified the simulations by the activities involved: role-play and projection of behavior of a complex system. By providing the fact that SimCity has "probably introduced more people to urban planning than any book ever has", Starr brought the discussion to the factors that made Sim- games popular: more accessible, absorbing, and playable. With the comparison of the practice of CBO, Starr discussed transparency vs. black-box situation on models for both simulation games and real world simulation practice. Starr pointed out that compare with simulation games, the "real world" policy simulation has the models that are "subject to criticism and debate". Starr acknowledged the power that simulation games holding, either entertainment-only or teaching-tool-only attitude is underestimate the significance of simulation games. We have to see this phenomena and simulation in a larger and widely-connected picture.
Turkle, S. (1997). This article is in good fit after I finished reading the first two. The major contributions of this article are proposing the ideas of culture of simulation and habits of readership appropreated to this culture. The article started with questioning on the observation that the goals of teaching students computers have been changing from "how computers worked and how to write programs" to "how to use computer applications". The following discussion follow along with this changing process. Turkle discussed "how computers worked" in the sections of algorithm and "Walking-Through Computer" exhibit. Then he developed the argument into "how to use computer applications" with observation on software fluency. In discussion of the bad and good for simulations, besides the two basic attitudes towards seduction of simulation: accept, reject, Turkle proposed the third position that interpret the simulation popularization phenomenon as a "challenge to develop a new social criticism". In the end Turkle proposed his version of one of the goals of computer education, which is to interrogate simulations with similar thoughts when we developing our centuries-long habits of readership. This article ended with the awareness to the quote "There was a child went forth every day. And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became". Human-Simulation interaction is a double helix that never ends. So we need to understand simulation, the relationship, and be aware of this bond all the time.
Name an experience or activity that you think is ideally suited to be simulated (and why).
With all different kinds of practices that can be classified as simulations, there are simulations of social and economic construction or interaction (more like sim- games), physical experiences (like flight simulators), psychological experiences (like role play in a game acting other social roles, such as father/mother of a child/baby, or boy/girl friend, or a soldier/hero/heroine/knight, etc.). The example I can offer can be one of the physical experience simulation that is more like, I think, flight simulator. It was one of the venture game in Universal, Orlando, Back to the Future the Ride. As described on the website, this is a trip "You'll fly from 2015 Hill Valley through an Ice Age avalanche and into the clutches of a dinosaur and back to the future - all to stop Biff from altering the future." While I took the trip, with the combination of inputs on senses of sight, sound, and touch, and the feeling of weightlessness, I felt "real". It was just like you were flying with the spaceship.
Questions for discussion:
1. What do you think about your attitude to simulation in education, and its function in our real life? In education related issues, I take the position that simulation is not a substitution for what we have for the traditional way of teaching, but more a complementation for a more effective learning process and a powerful tool for high-efficiency experience of skill and information acquisition, and even on transfer.
2. Interestingly, the publisher of Sim- games pointed out that the purpose of SimCity is not accuracy or prediction but communication. What does the communication mean in this case? Does this purpose also agreed or experienced by gamers?