June 8, 2009
SimCity... Actually a Terrible Simulation
The blog Human Transit outlines the ways in which the original SimCity — the one I spent the most time playing — codified a now-outmoded planning orthodoxy:
In short, Sim City could be hailed as a triumph of reactionary brainwashing — in that it instilled in a generation of 1990s teen geeks all the worst assumptions of 1960s city planning.
But, let’s not not pick on a decades-old video game. Let’s imagine a new Sim-something instead — one that codifies the values we thing are important today, in 2009.
How about SimRegion? It would be all about region-wide transportation infrastructure, water management, food production (big emphasis on that), migration, and more. Hmm. That sounds educational. And boring.
Maybe SimSocialNetwork. Forget geography. This one’s all about tending an online garden of weak ties and attention-feeds. (I’m not being sarcastic. I think, abstracted in the right way, this could actually be fun and instructive.)
Or how about some kind of bifurcated simulation: SimHealthCareSystemAndIndividual. One side’s macro, the other’s micro. You play both, and see how decisions on one side affect the other. I like the sound of that, actually. The trick with any social simulation is that, inevitably, the way you design it says a lot about how you view the world. So the micro/macro sim would play up that tension; the models might even be designed to sort of “fight” each other. SimBourgeoisAndProletariat.
(Via Noah Brier.)