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The Not-So-Great Lessons of SimCity

A game encountered as a youth has brought many adults to the ranks of professional planning. What, then, is the legacy of the lessons offered by SimCity and its brethren?
February 25, 2016, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Norman Chan

Daniel Hertz describes the outsized impact of SimCity on the public awareness of the concepts of planning:

By making thousands and thousands of people plan commercial, industrial, and residential districts for their virtual towns, the creators of SimCity have probably done more than anyone in the history of the world to introduce basic principles of zoning to the public.

Now that SimCity has spawned several sequels, a version for tablets, and a rival game called Cities: Skylines, Hertz is much more prepared to mine the game for lessons. As Hertz puts it, he made some notes "on what a video game can teach us about the biases and blind spots of real-life urban planning in the US…"

The list, with a lot more detail in the article, includes the following:

  • You must zone—and use single-use zoning.
  • You must give cars primacy on the street.
  • Parking doesn’t exist.
  • It’s all about the built environment.
  • There are no politics.
Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 in City Observatory
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