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SimCity Analysis

Page history last edited by Richard Chen 12 years, 9 months ago

Publisher: Maxis Software Inc.  

Platform: DOS   

Release Date: 1994

Version: Simcity (aka Simcity Classic)



“The objective of SimCity, as the name of the game suggests, is to build and design a city, without specific goals to achieve (except in the scenarios, see below). The player can mark land as being zoned as commercial, industrial, or residential, add buildings, change the tax rate, build a power grid, build transportation systems and many other actions, in order to enhance the city.

Also, the player may face disasters including: flooding, tornadoes, fires (often from air disasters or even shipwrecks), earthquakes and attacks by monsters. In addition, monsters and tornadoes can trigger train crashes by running into passing trains.” – Wikipeida


Simcity was Will Wright’s breakthrough game.  The game not only spawned multiple sequels of the simulated city gameplay, but also led to simulated environment games such as SimTower, SimTown, and the Sims.


Game Walkthrough 

Simcity’s main gameplay provides a very open ended environment.  Gameplay does not occur in a linear fashion as players are given a blank area of land which they then develop into a city using various tools, such as creating buildings and roads and setting taxes.  The game has no clear ending, as players continue to develop their city until the city is destroyed and they are unable to rebuild. 


Simcity’s scenarios provide more structured gameplay.  Players are placed in the role of Mayor of a real city in either a fictional (Tokyo being attacked by a reptile monster) or historical (the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) situation.  The player’s city is already developed, although parts of the city may need rebuilding.  Although players are free to develop the city as they wish, they are given specific objectives at the start of the game.  Players must reach these objectives within a set amount of time in order to complete the scenario.



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Game Objectives 

  • No clear way of winning

  • Create a functioning metropolis through building infrastructure and managing resources

  • Develop funding in order to build more advanced structures

  • Protect citizens and structures

  • Manage disaster situations


Educational Objectives 

  • Gain experience in cit development through simulated environment
  • Learn effective city planning
  • Manage money and resources


Motivational Elements      

The main objective in Simcity is to create a successfully functioning city.  Due to game’s open-ended gameplay, players have many options to achieve their objective.  Experiencing identical gameplay is nearly impossible, which allows for great replay value as players explore new methods and techniques to develop a city.  The scenarios provide a more structured gameplay, but continue to allow players to create their own techniques to achieve set objectives. 


Players receive visual analysis of their city through newspaper reports and busy but orderly movement of citizens using their infrastructure.  Players must constantly manage their resources, such as money and energy, as new structures and citizens compete for resources and force players to change their management strategies.  Players can build more power plants and set taxes to increase funds, but they must weigh their strategies with maintaining a high level of citizen satisfaction.  Disasters play an important role as players must have enough resources to protect or rebuild their city.  Players are challenged as their resources begin to run out and they are forced to make decisions in order to continue the development of their city.


Educational Outcomes  

Although Simcity was never marketed as an educational game, the game provided strong educational outcomes through its open-ended gameplay.  Since the gameplay is based on the game’s educational objective to develop a city, the game provides high integration between gameplay and educational content.  Due to its exaggerated events and relatively simple resource management, critics may point out that Simcity does not provide an accurate portrayal of its objective, to develop a city.  However, the game’s educational strength is allowing players to develop conceptual knowledge within a simulated environment.  Players establish an understanding of how their actions and decisions can affect their city’s citizens.  Whether it is building new structures or reallocating funds to the police force, players are able to apply their conceptual experience and obtain feedback based on their citizen’s satisfaction level and the city’s overall wellbeing.  As players are able to create their own cities based on their personal techniques, they may also gain interests in aspects such as city planning and money management. 

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