Leveling Up in the Enterprise
This post is part of a series discussing lessons gleaned from the video game industry. Catch the next part on Call of Duty and Data Analytics next Saturday.
“What exactly does a new video game release have to do with Big Data?” I hear you ask. The answer is everything.
In SimCity, everything is simulated, and the amount of information in the game is indicative of the complex balancing act that happens around us in real life. The game is essentially a huge civil engineering, Big Data simulator.
Each “Sim” person has their virtual feelings changed in real time based on your actions. Even the buildings have statuses where you can check the owner’s needs. The power grid, water, utilities, public services, healthcare, resources, taxes — they are all interconnected, powered by a constant stream of actionable data and what affects one affects them all, as it does in real life.
Closing the Loop
You might not think manipulating diverse data streams would be a fun game, but you’d be wrong. The fun comes from perfectly closing the loop between data and action. Not only do you have perfect data, which never happens in real life, but your actions and reactions affect the lives of your Sims immediately with no real world lag time. The visual analytics itself is only the basis for seeing how your actions affect the whole integrated ecosystem.
In the real world, this process is completely hidden to us and yet happens around us at breakneck speed. Large amounts of data are being used to make decisions that affect any myriad of interconnected resources and each impact having to be understood with yet more data.
The Complexity of Daily Trash
In 2012, the Senseable City Lab of MIT conducted an experiment to see what happens when someone takes out the trash. By attaching transmitters to over 3,000 pieces of rubbish they were able to track where that item went, whether they went to the correct recycling facility or not, and how far they traveled. The results were eye opening as you can imagine from the tracer map on the right.
But it’s this kind of Big Data that can help cities manage resources more effectively, reduce costs and carbon footprint. And while the complexity may not exist in SimCity to simulate at this scale, EA has gone slightly further than before.
SimCity 5 Takes Data Simulation One Step Further
SimCity 5 is now an always-on multiplayer, meaning that your city is now connected with many others across a “region” that can boom or bust based on the decisions and actions made by neighboring players. You can build a city that provides resources and electricity to the whole region based on mining for coal, but you’ll also pollute the air of every neighboring city around you, for example.
Out of all this gameplay, there’s a valuable lesson here: SimCity is teaching people through play that the interconnection between Big Aata, real-time decision making, and the consequences of acting on that data results in the good (or bad) of many.
Big Data is not about creating clever and targeted consumer marketing campaigns. Big Data is happening all around us, and what Electronic Arts has done is bring that to the attention of everyone who embarks on building a world in SimCity 5.
And they’ll quickly learn that Big Data is not a game, but has become our new reality.
To take this lesson from gaming into the business space, read our sample integration maturity assessment, showing how to use the concept of integration to fully utilize Big Data.