Gods of the City? Reflecting on City Building Games as an Early Introduction to Urban Systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

For millions of gamers and students alike, city building games (CBGs) like SimCity and the more recent Cities: Skylines present a compelling initial introduction to the world of urban planning and development. As such, these games have great potential to shape players’ understanding and expectations of real urban patterns and processes. In this article I argue that, despite the fundamental role of agency in CBGs and other sandbox type games, players are constrained by the developers’ assumptions and biases regarding how cities ought to look and function. Of particular consideration is the tendency among CBGs to emphasize personal transportation over transit, autocentric over mixed-use development, and simplified social dynamics over a more realistic model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geography
Volume115
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 3 2016

Keywords

  • SimCity
  • city building game
  • city simulation
  • planning pedagogy
  • urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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