Electronic Arts confirms that the original 1989 edition of SimCity, the city-building simulation title, will be included in "$100 laptop" machines sponsored by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) association. OLPC is a non-profit organization aiming to bring computer literacy to various countries through low-cost laptops complete with education software, all purchased by the countries' governments. Participating countries include Cambodia, Libya, Nigeria (which ordered over a million OLPC laptops), Pakistan, Peru, and even the US (Massachusetts in particular hopes bring OLPC laptops to "all children in the state").
The request to include SimCity into OLPC laptops came from OLPC itself, and not EA. SimCity will be included in OLPC laptop software suites by way of donation from EA; the publisher is quick to note that this is first time anyone in the gaming industry has "gifted a game to the world" in this way. We were worried at first about how this would threaten to undermine the goal of gifting "technological opportunity" to children in developing countries, but then we reminded ourselves that at least it wasn't The Incredible Machine. My friend couldn't get kids off of that game once he introduced it to his summer camp class.
The idea to connect SimCity with OLPC came from internet pioneer, activist and OLPC advisor John Gilmore who knew the game’s history and recognized its potential relevance to the not-for-profit project. Not long after its 1989 release, SimCity became a phenomenon, winning more than 24 domestic and international awards. The game soon made its way into more than 10,000 classrooms as an educational tool and became part of the annual Future City Competition, a contest that still runs in seventh and eighth grade classrooms today.
"SimCity is entertainment that’s unintentionally educational. Players learn to use limited resources to build and customize their cities. There are choices and consequences, but in the end, it’s a creativity tool that’s only limited by the player’s imagination," said Steve Seabolt, vice president of global brand development, The Sims Label. "The game should prove to be an incredibly effective way of making the laptop relevant, engaging, and fun, particularly for first time players. We are thrilled to be making this contribution to OLPC to help meet their goal of educating the children of the world."