Earlier this month, Electronic Arts released its latest installment of SimCity, the ever-popular city-simulation franchise.
Writing at the New York Times, Stephen Totilo suggested that, “The new SimCity has all the potential to be a fascinating social experiment.”
I think there’s even more to it. Besides being a social experiment, SimCity can also reveal some very provocative things about the society in which we live.
With astonishingly elaborate new features including a world commodities market and customizable buildings, the new SimCity is more realistic than ever before. The game is incredibly detailed and allows players a greater level of control over the city than they previously had, right down to each individual Sim on the street. (For those unfamiliar with the lingo, a “Sim” is a simulated human being.)
With the click of a mouse, you are able to know any Sim’s name, occupation, and residence; you can see where that Sim came from, where he/she is going, and for what purpose. As always, Sims respond in real-time to the actions of their government; just like in the real world, the consequences of government action are often unintended and unforeseen.
Let’s say you want to build a park. Or, perhaps, you want to improve a park that already exists. What do you do? You might begin by raising residential property tax levels. But people quickly reject this and begin moving elsewhere, leaving you with less revenue than before.