Thanks, Nintendo and SimCity.

When I was younger, one of my fave games was SimCity on SNES (the original one). I remember I would play the game obsessively. I think I got started on it after getting bored with playing Street Fighters. Not quite sure of how I first heard about the game but I was fascinated by this video game genre called stimulation gaming.

As I first started on the game, I didn’t quite get what the game was all about (I think I was 9 years old) but found out that it’s about building housing/commercial zones, transportations and ultimately, growing in population, which was the whole point of this game. Before I knew it, I was completely hooked. I played obsessively, all night on it and ofc, my mom couldn’t understand the addiction when she was yelling at me to eat dinner or do something. One thing, though, was that I would run out of money and would have to wait for annual year to get taxes so I could use the money to build more zones. Having realized this, I looked up in my old Nintendo Power magazines (I have the first 12 subscriptions) and sure enough, it contains a cheat code where I could get 20k every time I ran out of money. Delightfully, I built new zones, destroyed not-so-developed zones, put in all trains (which lessened car pollution), built airports, stadiums, and fetched more money till I reached the metropolis level at the 500k population, which was the highest level you could achieve at this SimCity game. I remember how simple the game was and how neat the panning/zooming was, even on a SNES platform.

Then, there was a PC revolution, so I got on that wave, and there was a new game called the SimTower.  When I first saw the cover on the box in the Best Buy store, I knew I gotta have it and practically begged my parents to buy it.  Again, I got hooked on the game and kept adding floors and rooms till I got a 5 stars rating and over 100 floors built. It was a beautiful game and the graphics was decent too. Then, another game, the Sims, came out and I tried it out but didn’t find it as appealing as the other two because it wasn’t that progressive or rewarding (folks were even unpredictable in the game too!) to me and it was more of goofing around than learning, I suppose.

Back at the school, I told my friends about those games but they didn’t share the same fascination as I did and they’d rather play Super Mario Bros or Street Fighters. During one lunch, my friend objected that I didn’t play it fairly because I had used a cheat code to help myself achieve the 500k population level and I thought about that and I was occupied by that thought for a whole day and in the bed. While it wasn’t probably very ethical, what mattered to me was I used strategic thinking on how to obtain the secret code and then, the steps to apply the secret code in a game and there’s a certain motivation in myself that I indeed wanted to achieve the highest level, however it would take, in the least amount of time so I thought that’s more important than pulling a few fancy knockout moves in a Street Fighter game.

Now that I’m much older and living on my own income, I find myself using the same strategic thinking—in doing coding work, finding solutions, using shortcuts, and basically surviving through this human life and to accumulate wealth by ways of investments and savings. To come think of it, the current state of economy now affords us to earn money off the Internet instead of having to work in a farm or factory somewhere that was probably common only one generation ago. I’m just thankful to my parents who didn’t deter me from playing those Sim games and that I was constantly tired during the daytime and missed a few meals. I’d like to think that all those times have been paid off. :)