LGR – SimHealth – DOS PC Game Review

LGR – SimHealth – DOS PC Game Review

[LGR theme music] [roar] [sips]
Aaahh! [typing] Looking back at classic Maxis titles, there are a few that really stand out to most people. SimCity, SimAnt, SimCity 2000, SimTower. But one that is almost
completely forgotten is SimHealth, The National Health Care Simulation. This was released by Maxis and
The Markle Foundation in 1994, developed by a team calling
themselves Thinking Tools, Inc. It’s forgotten for a few reasons, the biggest being… uh, it’s actually a long story, so let me just start at the, uh… start. The Markle Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1927 and is based in New York City. Their focus is advancing health and national security through the use of information and technology. During the early Clinton administration, there was ongoing battle raging over healthcare reform, coming to a head in Summer of 1994. During that same time, Maxis
had been seeing tons of success with simulation titles like SimCity, so with Markle’s agenda, Maxis’ simulation expertise, and the goings on in Congress, it was a perfect storm of timing. And with a $350,000 grant from Markle, Maxis Business Solutions got
to work on SimHealth in 1993, exclusively for MS-DOS PCs. Before release, a preview version of
SimHealth was given to journalists and those involved in the healthcare debate
at a press conference on Capitol Hill in November of 1993. Then right before Summer of 1994, SimHealth was made available
for purchase to the public by way of phone and mail-order, forgoing the usual wide retail
release of other Maxis titles. According to The Markle Foundation, it only sold a few thousand copies and was simply “not entertaining enough” to ever see the regular store shelves. It came in this box, which is a bit thinner than other Maxis titles, and it’s actually the same size as the
SimCity 2000 expansions released that year. I’ve also come into possession of this odd version which I’ve dubbed the “Silver Box.” It’s got different artwork, a different subtitle, different screenshots on the back, and it’s dated 1993 instead of 1994. I have a feeling this is either an early version
available from The Markle Foundation or perhaps even the 1993 preview version. I don’t really know for sure. So, that’s the backstory.
Let’s get into the game. SimHealth comes with the game on
two high-density 3.5-inch floppy disks, as well as a helpful and witty-written manual penned by none other than Michael Bremer, who is famous for doing the documentation for practically every Maxis game, from SimCity on through The Sims. Being released shortly after SimCity 2000, Maxis ended up using many of
that game’s assets in SimHealth, starting with the installation program. As such, the requirements were a bit high for the time, requiring VGA graphics and 4 MB RAM minimum. Once the game starts, you’re
greeted with a classical tune and a cool title screen by Bruce Ariss, who is known for painting murals
in California in the 1930s alongside the social reform
policy questions of those days. From here, you can choose to read a bit about the game, start a new game, or take the tour. I highly recommend taking the tour, as it’s a very easy-to-use
interactive tutorial of SimHealth and all of its features. It’s worth noting that an easy way to tell if
you’re playing the preview version or not is to try the tour, since the preview version lacks all of the tutorials and will give you an error message. The preview version also requires
SVGA and has better graphics. Not really sure why they
downgraded to VGA 16-color mode. The tour is also a good introduction
to the SimHealth recording function. During the simulation, you can
choose to record your activity and then play it back with or without notes, which was meant to be used for
classroom and presentation purposes. You can even view built-in
demonstrations of various politicians’ proposed healthcare plans. You can start a new game at any time– and okay, now pay attention, because the most exciting part
of SimHealth is about to occur. [tires screech, cars crash] [ambulance siren] Yes, you see a nasty wreck at an intersection and it is revealed that you were
one of the passengers in the car. After being taken to the hospital and
being poked and prodded in ways that really irked you to no end, you are then overcharged on top of all that and decide is enough is enough and proceed to run for political office on the platform of healthcare reform. From here you get another musical ditty in the options letting you choose your stance and goals. This will determine the entire
outcome of the simulation. You are judged not by the values you select– a balance of community, efficiency, liberty and equality– but rather how well you stick to those values over the course of sixteen years. You’re given some background
on each of these options, as well as the ever-useful What and
Why buttons in the top-right corner, which are context-sensitive query tools. After selecting your values,
you are automatically elected and a simulation begins. The main street view here is called… uh… Main Street, and as you can see, it uses many
of the graphics from SimCity 2000 to represent different parts of SimHealth. It also serves as a vivid yet ambiguous representation of how your policies are affecting America at large. You have the policy office, police station, insurance headquarters, courthouse, medical technology building, small businesses, big businesses, resident citizens, primary care and specialists, and of course, the hospital. And for some reason that initial crash of yours never disappears from this screen, just staying there, rotting, reminding you that the good times are over and it’s all serious political loveliness from now on. These buildings serve as a
more interesting representation of the policy-making interface at the top of the screen. And they’ll also change in appearance in congruence with the effects of your active policies. Enact big policies that will benefit
big business but hurt smaller clinics, big businesses will get even bigger and the clinics will soon be smaller and in shambles. This is a really basic way to judge your performance, although it’s made pretty clear
there are no right or wrong answers, only results. That is, the entire point of SimHealth is to manipulate the healthcare system by simulating the years 1992 to 2008, and every couple of years it will be re-election time. And you will either win or lose the election, depending on how you’ve
performed since the last election. This is shown through polls, as well
as the condition of your Main Street. Even if you make it all the way to 2008, all you get is a score based on mostly how much you’ve held to your initial principles. In fact, you can just set your promises, set the game speed to max, and a notification will have to be clicked here and there and the entire sixteen years will be over in about sixteen minutes. Obviously, you are meant to do more than that, but that gives you an idea of what SimHealth really is. You’ll notice I haven’t called it a game once,
and there’s a good reason for that. It’s not a game whatsoever. It’s really an economics model simulator that happens to have a fancy UI slapped on top of it. This is really obvious when you
check out the Assumptions menu. This should be a familiar sight to anyone
who paid even a little bit of attention in their introductory economics class. These assumptions are set at
the beginning of the simulation to allow, disallow or tweak certain
data from entering the model that SimHealth uses to decide
the effects of your policies. Anyone who’s worked with
economics or statistics knows that any model is only as good as your assumptions, so it’s nice to be able to tweak these for a larger variety of potential models. Of course, you can’t actually see the math that’s behind the models in the first place, so there are some limitations to
SimHealth’s calculations and possibilities. That said, what it’s meant to do it does very well. A typical gameplay routine consists of
you starting off in the Policies Room and choosing the basis for your healthcare system. You can then refer to the then-
current U.S. model as a basis and then change it from there to your heart’s content. You can also choose from the
Universal New York Care system or even the Canuck healthcare system. [MIDI version of “O, Canada” plays] And you can also fine-tune individual benefits, cost control and insurance funding sources. Fun times. But there are only so many choices you can make in any given policy-making session, which is determined by your overall performance. For every action, you are either given
or charged a certain number of chips. Each policy change costs a
certain number of these chips. There’s also a budget to maintain,
but honestly, who cares? It doesn’t really seem to affect anything. It’s not used as a currency, it’s
just another one of those things to let you know how you’re doing. You’re probably going to go into the red anyways. And as long as you have the
chips and keep getting re-elected, just keep passing legislation
and hope the populous endures. Each of these options are represented by the bar of icons across the bottom of the screen, which provides easy access to each of your policies. Otherwise, all you’ll want to do is wait
around for something wild to happen, like ambiguous new technologies and
cures that you’ll decide whether or not to include in your healthcare system, budget reports, health conferences
and elections every two years, which are not interactive –
it just lets you know the results. You really can be as involved or uninvolved as you’d like. As long as you’re in office, it’s all good. And then if you last sixteen years, it’s all over, and you’re scored based on how
well you’ve held onto your principles. Eh, you might be thinking,
“Wow, this looking frickin’ boring.” And you’d be right. I’d blame it on the bland subject matter, but urban planning isn’t exactly the
most entertaining subject, either, and I find SimCity very enjoyable, whereas this I do not. And SimHealth is a very well-made
simulation of healthcare policies and making a very tedious set of models very approachable, simple to
manipulate and see results. On those merits, it’s really stood the test of time. In fact, it’s still being used by schools like Penn State in their HPA 101 class. But if you start the program
having played other Maxis titles, you’re really setting yourself up for disappointment because it’s simply not very fun to play with. I mean, you can’t really play it at all. It’s basically a teaching aid with
SimCity 2000 graphics on top of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that
because that was its purpose. So it’s a lot like eating dry oatmeal or granola. It might theoretically be good for you, but unless you’re being commanded to partake or you’re just strangely curious, you probably don’t want to have anything to do with it. [MIDI piano music plays]

100 thoughts on “LGR – SimHealth – DOS PC Game Review

  1. With the excitement of a game like SimHealth, we should be able to get people on board with Hillary Clinton's effort to remake American health care.

  2. Great review I really enjoyed it I will have been watching your videos for a couple of days now and I have to say I love your style very genuine and very real keep it up new fan for life

  3. When I was a kid I was obsessed with all the Maxis titles. these were the days before buying whatever you want on the Internet. I just couldn't find this game anywhere! so I never got to play it

  4. That is probabaly the most boring box I have ever seen for a video game. It looks like a documentary

  5. Thinking Tools? Do they have anything to do with The Software Toolworks? AKA the developers responsible for Mario is Missing, Mario's Time Machine, & the Mario's Early Years trilogy.

  6. What if the main character has always been a politician and was dying from the accident and as he died he was remembering his hole life, so thas is way the accident doesnt disappear?? :O

  7. SimCity succeeds where SimHealth fails in probably not properly simulating how it's like to actually be in urban planning; I think that's the fundamental difference, really; most games that induce fun into boring topics do so by picking and choosing what they wish to leave within the game. And usually, the stuff left behind is going to be the more interesting/less tedious stuff.

    Might work if it made you someone in charge of a hospital going through transitions in healthcare systems and needing to run your hospital as per those different systems or something to that effect.

  8. Though as not being a game itself, as a simulation it seems to really work well~
    For learnin' matters that seems awesome and better than just reading books!

  9. Wow, I got bored just by the review, Not because of your review, I love it, but because this game looks so boring it hurts @@

  10. And still you guys don’t have decent healthcare like we have in Europe with our ‘socialist’ ways. 🙁
    This game would still be relevant today unfortunately. Sad it has to be that way.

  11. So, this title's more of an educational tool than anything else. I've played lots of sim and tycoon type games, and I've never heard of this one until now.

  12. Install the game. Start up and then contract a deadly disease. Spend the rest of your life waiting for the government official to approve your surgery.

  13. i hate republicans but this seems like propaganda or a way to embezzle money. this was before obamacare and obamacare is republican bullshit.

  14. Dude… if that silver one is the preview version that was given in congress, and you have it even still closed, thats a hell of a collectors item!.

  15. I feel personally attacked. I've eaten plain oatmeal by choice every day for the past 2 months lol maybe sim health is the game for me!

  16. First you have to promote some socialism and reduce military spending so…… . . GAME OVER. You were assassinated.

  17. How very, very sad that over 25 years later healthcare is no better (and is probably worse) than it was back then.

    Healthcare SHOULD be a free, universal right to every legal citizen paid for by the government. Capitalism has no business being involved in healthcare. But since this ridiculous country is run by corrupt politicians in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies, this will never happen. When making money is more important than the health of your citizens, something is very, very wrong.

    Even Canada with its “free” universal healthcare is deeply flawed with policies that still favor pharmaceutical companies. i.e – you still have to pay for prescription drugs yourself. AFAIK no country has a true universally free system that doesn’t favor capitalism.

  18. The US could have implemented something from simhealth in 94, but instead we stuck with the Theme Hospital model. (not meant to be taken particularly seriously)

  19. because why would a game called simhealth be about being a doctor when we can have
    MEDICAL POLITICS that date the game?

  20. I feel pretty dorky fondly remembering SimHealth as a 10-12 year old, seeing how many people found the game boring! I also wonder how I got a copy–I feel it must have been at some stores, as I got a lot of these types of games from discount bins. But perhaps it was a mail-order catalogue packed into SimCity 2000.

    Anyhow, I recall my game always crashing at the end of year 1. IIRC, I could set all the policies, then instant-skip to 2008 to see how my policies played out, but I couldn't actually play the game as it was meant to be played and tweak/respond each year. Maybe the system requirements were too demanding–which is strange, because it is not an intense game. Any idea what it's doing with that RAM?

  21. you called it a game at 6:38, "set the game speed'…, 30 seconds before you claimed to not call it a game

  22. You should do a review of SimLife – a game I had as a kid, but never understood anything of. I think it's mainly because I didn't know english, but it would be cool to actually see what the game really is about

  23. And to think I actually wanted to play this when I was a child…

    Thankfully my parents knew better and got me SimCopter instead since I would have never experienced the joys of turning into a dog and running at speeds faster than Sonic the Hedgehog after chugging a couple cans of Monster energy drinks otherwise. ?

  24. Wait wait "strangely curious"? What's that supposed to mean? Loved it when I found it played it for like 4 straight hours in hyperfocus. Probably never again tho.

  25. The Canuck system! Welcome aboard! I just hope you are ready to wait an eternity for your tests. In Canada, we are all used to that and many of us are even full blown apologists for this shitty health care system. Good luck!

  26. YouTube algorithm be like:
    2011: nah
    2012: nope
    2013: no
    2014: still no
    2015: no
    2016: another no
    2017: no chance
    2018: nah
    2019: yes watch now please

  27. I didn't think I had played this one. But then the car crash at the beginning gave me flashbacks. I did play it, I remember now… For all of 5 minutes when I was a little kid.

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