I’ve never been much of a video gamer. But the one game I played endlessly growing up was Sim City, in which you become a city planner and simulate constructing your own community from scratch.
This was where I got my first understanding of zoning, taxes, and traffic control. I also learned about the powerful economic impact of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, which could rip apart sections of a city.
And with the new version of SimCity, a new generation of gamers will learn another lesson: how development choices influence the environment. According to the vice president of the studio developing the latest iteration of the game, climate change will now be a factor, reports Physorg:
“We are updating SimCity with technology of today and introducing it to a new generation of gamers,” Maxis studio senior vice president Lucy Bradshaw said at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
“It gets under your skin; exposes you to the idea of cause and effect and that choices you make have repercussions,” she said.
Along with rich 3-D graphics, the game will have a new simulation engine that enhances its realism and extends ramifications of urban design decisions past borders to affect neighboring cities.
“In ‘SimCity’ resources are finite, you struggle with decisions people are struggling with today in the real world and your decisions can have a global impact,” Bradshaw said.
“Be a polluter and you are ultimately going to affect your friends’ cities… Will you have the wealthiest, fittest, greenest city ever or the sludgiest, most yikes-worthy SimCity ever?”
Frankly, I’m surprised that it took so long to get this new element into SimCity. But I’m really happy to hear that users will now have a more realistic experience when playing the game. Actions have consequences; and I learned that very early on when designing my first cities.
More and more game designers are adding climate education themes to their games. Recently, Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project teamed up with PSFK Consultants to encourage designers to consider climate and environmental themes. Here’s a speech and roundtable discussion featuring Gore talking about this new trend: