SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA–Electronic Arts has announced the latest title in the successful SimCity franchise. It’s called SimCityPlanner, and the game’s designers promise it will be the most realistic version yet.
Previous titles in the series were renowned for their attention to detail and extensive customization options. The series also finally provided a satisfying answer to the timeless question “Who will build the roads?” In SimCity, the answer is the player/god/mayor, and all of the subjects seem pretty happy with the arrangement.*
But despite all of these merits, critics say the franchise is a bit too idealized to simulate the real world. “Where’s all of the graft, unfunded pensions, and nonsensical building codes,” asks Chris Thompson of the Reason Foundation. “SimCity might be how a city is supposed to work, but it’s not how they actually work. Not in America.”
The latest sequel takes this criticism head on. In this installment, players will serve as a humble civilian city planner and they will be able to do all the things that city planners do in the real world, such as:
- Petition to get a neighborhood listed on the national historic register to prevent any future development or renovations.
- Make obscure rules on maximum building heights to preserve “neighborhood character”–and as a bonus, ensure housing prices will never be low enough for the dreaded riffraff to move in.
- Mandate environmental impact assessments on even the smallest construction projects. Want to paint your bathroom? Think of the wetlands!
- Commission impressive and impractical public transportation projects that can only attract passengers when the fares are free.
- Make arbitrary building code requirements on residential housing in the name of “dignity” to make cheaper living arrangements illegal.
- Monitor the rate of housing inflation in your city and compete for the high score on the Case-Shiller index!
- You can even lobby your constituents for an affordable housing subsidy that will help 0.5% of the population that your other policies forced to the brink of homelessness.
It remains to be seen whether the new simulation will fully satisfy the critics, but Thompson said it is a major step in the right direction.
SimCityPlanner is coming to a console or PC near you in May 2018. What will you mandate?(TM)
*This is a satirical post. While the links point to real news stories, the game, cover image, and the source cited above are all fictional.