The new ‘SimCity’: To me, it’s the ultimate in computer simulation (i.e. ‘geekdom’)

The word is that Electronic Arts (EA) will be releasing the latest SimCity for both Mac and PC in March 2013.

This game has been around for 23 years, starting with the original SimCity (1989) (Micropolis) and continuing on through SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000 and Sim City 4 (Rush Hour. There’s also been a few versions for iOS and Android.

For those that are unaware, SimCity is a simulationthe object is to build a city literally from the ground up. You first add a power plant to provide electricity, then you designate areas for industrial, business/commercial and residential by zoning them. Soon Sims–simulated citizens of your new city–arrive and start building factories, stores and homes. You put down some roads to connect everything, then later on add some public transportation, schools, police and fire stations, hospitals, museums, and so on. Your job, as Mayor, is to build the largest city you can with the only a certain amount of Simoleons (money)  available, and still avoid the problems of pollution, crime, overpopulation, traffic, limited budgets…hey, just like a real city!

The original SimCity featured flat buildings and exteriors, with no actual motion or even three-dimensional graphics to speak of. Still, that very first one is what lit a fire inside many gamers of that time.

Back in 1997 I had heard that the SimCity 2000 version for the original PlayStation gaming console was really cool, so I went out in search of it at several Best Buy locations. It was sold out nearly everywhere…finalIy I got lucky and found a copy. I spent many hours just getting used to the game–almost all my spare time was spent learning how to construct cities: put down roads, zone lots, run electrical lines, connect underground water lines cities and so on.

Today’s newer versions don’t even require all that. In the clip above you can see that water lines now automatically follow streets. Connecting power lines also became passé some years ago–that’s done automatically for you as well in almost every case.

I am not now and, with the exception of that SimCity game, have not ever been much of a a computer or console gamer. I frankly don’t possess the hand-eye coordination to play action-adventure or combat games (I blame my age and inexperience in controller play for that). I mean, I grew up with an Atari joystick and the paddle controllers. I wasn’t able to grasp–no pun intended–the far more complex PlayStation controllers when they first appeared. I realize that the design is necessary due to the complexity of the game play, but it’s beyond my dexterity.

But SimCIty doesn’t care how fast I am with the controller–it has zero concern for how quickly I can shoot or run or jump or how many bad guys I can eliminate. It just wants me to–I’ll go so far as to say that it’s looking forward to having me–build a great city in the least expensive way that I know how.


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