Simulating the World
News

The world’s most complex problems, now in emoji

Step into the bustling streets of Grand Theft Auto 5’s Los Santos, or one of the many sun-dappled, monster-rich forests in The Witcher 3. These worlds are so fully realized, and at their best so compellingly true-to-life, that it’s easy to forget that all games, when stripped of the bells and whistles, are only systems operating on a specific set of rules. But more than just games run on complex systems of interaction, and Nicky Case has made this point before. You might remember Case’s previous project Parable of the Polygons, the cute bit of interactive sociology about geometry and…

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Feature

The Year in Anxiety

There’s nothing to be worried about, it’s just a quiet walk through the woods. The sun is shining through the leaves. Strings swell in the background as you amble about. Everything is okay. Only it isn’t. Sure, Alessandro Salvati’s Anxiety Attacks starts out pleasantly enough. You are in the woods and everything is indeed picturesque. Your only real job is to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Walk through a field of flowers. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe—you get the hang of it. Well, you think you’ve got the hang of it, and then the sky turns red, your breath shortens,…

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News

Replicate the world’s most complex systems via emoji

What if you could mod a game as seamlessly as playing it the way it was written? In Nicky Case’s latest simulation tool, A Simulation in Emoji, just that promise is fulfilled. In the introduction for A Simulation in Emoji, Case writes, “there is *no* difference between playing and making, between reading and writing.” This is because Case has given you, the player, all the tools already, to an endlessly customizable extent. But just what is being customized? A simulator for anything and everything—through emojis. Case is no stranger to life-simulation tools. Case first made waves in 2014 with Coming…

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News

Your brain on anxiety: an interactive explanation with Nicky Case

Last year, Nicky Case and Vi Hart released Parables of Polygons, an experiment inspired by Bret Victor’s work on Explorable Explanations. Their aim: to bring the best parts of interactivity to a blogpost that might help explain how systemic biases and prejudices can take shape. After being a finalist for the Games for Change award in the Most Innovative category it seemed their playable post had achieved even more than what it set out to do. Putting a new and innovative format on the map, Nicky Case is back once again with Neurotic Neurons, an interactive exploration of the science behind…

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News

Big Pharma combines pretty pastel color scheme with withering cynicism

British Developer Twice Encircled has announced Big Pharma, a game which puts you in the deeply conflicted shoes of a c-level suit at a pharmaceutical conglomerate. It follows the Tycoon playbook: soft, twee visual design over top a game of space and resource management. As in the canonical Kairosoft and Tycoon games, you’ll tirelessly work to minimize some numbers and maximize others, tweaking an optimal profit with nary a thought to the souls you employ. Big Pharma, obviously, takes it one step further: you’re not building railroads or videogames here but pills, which might cure diseases, make people happier, or give them back…

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News

The post-privacy sim Nothing to Hide gets more timely every day

“Kanye West is worried a drone will electrocute his daughter” and “Kanye West: I fear electrocution by drone” are wonderful headlines. They’re exactly the sort of thing we expect from the rapper—sensational, emotional, Tweet-able. The truth, though, is a little more complicated. Our increasing adoption of drones, and their increasing ubiquity, is cause for a sensible person’s concern. What would happen if a poorly operated one fell into a swimming pool or onto a highway? It’s not just that they exist increasing numbers; it’s that they exist with increasing familiarity. That’s what makes Team Nobody’s game Nothing to Hide so…