SimCity forces players to think politically and strategically about how successful cities are run and societies are built. The player begins by indicating the zoning (residential, commercial, or industrial) of a plot of land, then adds buildings and infrastructure systems, regulates power grids, provides public transportation, and establishes policies such as tax rates. The residents of the city, called Sims, construct and upgrade buildings based on factors such as noise, neighborhood, and availability of services, and the city grows and develops. Their actions are not controlled by the player; they can only be influenced through city planning (and by unpredictable natural disasters). For instance, a player could choose to build a huge, self-contained city within a single building, a form in which the population can grow efficiently and generate revenue; she would, however, have to cope with other factors that spring up when the population is dense, such as crime and unrest resulting from limited access to services. Unlike most games, SimCity has no specific goal, besides a healthy city. SimCity was first released in 1989, to be played on personal computers. SimCity 2000 is similar to the original version, but features several improvements—such as visible land elevations and underground building.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.
SimCity is an open-ended city-building simulation originally developed for personal computers before being adapted to multiple gaming systems (with many sequels). It makes the delicate balance of chance and regulation in urban planning into a game: players begin by mapping out a section of land by zoning regulation—residential, commercial, or industrial—and then add buildings and infrastructure systems, such as public transportation and power grids, and construct and upgrade buildings based on real-world factors such as noise, neighborhoods, and the availability of services. Unlike most games, SimCity has no goals, end point, or dominant ethos, outside of optional scenarios: players may think politically and strategically about how cities are run and societies are built, or they may induce mass chaos for their own amusement.
Gallery label from Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900–2000, July 29–November 5, 2012.