The 5 Biggest Lies ‘SimCity’ Taught Us

Published 1 year ago by This is a list post.

SimCity Lies We Were Taught When you talk about the city-building genre, it's nearly impossible to do so without paying respect to the path forged by SimCity. Now Maxis has unveiled their reboot of the franchise, bringing unparalleled levels of simulation to the same classic formula. Of course, when we look back on just how well SimCity prepared us for the inner workings of a major urban center, we can't help but remember all the rude awakenings we experienced when we finally traded the game world for the real thing. Take a walk down memory lane with us, as we recall The 5 Biggest Lies SimCity Taught Us.

The Mayor is Above the Law

SimCity Mayor Monarch Some more mature gamers may have realized when they first booted up Will Wright's city simulator that suspension of disbelief was going to be needed for the kinds of interaction and control over the city it would make possible. But we weren't wise enough then to know where the line between mayoral authority, and unconstitutional behavior lay. The desire to 'be a good mayor' was all that really drove us to keep citizens happy, and the city's budget in the black. But when our unilateral decisionmaking started tipping the scales away from happiness and toward the call of profits, no one stopped us. We basked in the glow of the unchecked majesty of the 'Mayor's Office.' So imagine our surprise when we learned of city councils, state and federal legislature, and these weird things called 'voters.' Honestly, who knew ruling over a small kingdo-- sorry, city, could be so hard?

An Empty House is a Condemned House

SimCity Abandoned Buildings Any SimCity player knows how to tell if their city is suddenly being hit with widespread vacancies. Just watch for the families or business owners to pack up, move out...and leave their building falling into complete decay and rot moments after the door slammed without anyone to hear it. Sure, NOW we know that the change in appearance was just an indicator of a property being abandoned. But back then, our minds struggled to grasp the cause and effect being evidenced. The only possible answer was that our families living in our house was the only thing keeping the drywall up and the roof intact. We don't know what scared our parents more: our refusal to leave our bedroom on the grounds that "everything will die and fall apart," or our plan to rebuild the abandoned lumber mill by trying to sleep in it.

Aliens Do Exist (and Want to Kill Everyone)

SimCity Alien Invasion It's the question that has nagged at scientists for centuries: are we alone in the universe? Luckily, Will Wright helped answer that question before we were old enough to think every extraterrestrial might not love Reese's Pieces. Apparently Maxis had better sources, since they wasted no time in promising that aliens aren't just moments away from invasion, but they won't be looking to negotiate. It wasn't until we were wetting our pants every time a garbage truck drove by, and demanding our parents build an underground bunker since "they could be here any minute" that we realized we may have been misinformed. Now that we're older and wiser, we know that there's no such thing as aliens. If there are though, we have nothing to worry about, since they'll be disguised as cars, and probably have extensive accompanying toy lines.

Only Luxuries Are Privatized

SimCity Public Works Privatized The logic here makes sense: the price of utilities, power, water supply, and public transportation are all monitored by the Mayor's office. Prices go too high, and people will pay, but won't be happy about it. As a result, productivity (read: income) suffers in another area or industry as a result. The lesson? Commercial districts can charge what they like to whoever they like, but if public officials want their city to succeed, they'll keep their citizens happy and healthy (and with a little money in their pockets). The only problem with that is that since most countries in the world aren't communist republics, basic needs like electricity and running water don't have to be public works. So when a company owns all the power, water, or gas, they get to charge whatever they choose. If high prices bring down productivity elsewhere, that's not their problem. We still think a Mayor monarch wouldn't be the worst idea...

Don't Plan - React!

SimCity Fire Screenshot But those rules applied to the realm of Little League or camping - small potatoes compared to the grand world of civil engineering. And where they taught preparation, Maxis made it clear: spending money to prevent a disaster miles down the road is a fool's game. While amateur players installed firehalls on every street corner, we knew that was nothing more than betting against our own Sims. We spent money on luxuries and rapid growth. If a fire happened to break out without a firehall near, well, that's what the 'Pause' button is for. Just freeze time, erect a firehall next door, and watch our citizens marvel at their miraculous Mayor. As it turns out, real cities don't have a 'Pause' button. Or if they do, it's a lot harder to find. Let's just say that there's a reason that the saying isn't "we'll cross that bridge when it's bursting into flames."


SimCity Lies We Were Taught We learned plenty from the long line of SimCity games that have been released to this point, and the newest edition will hopefully be adding to the list. Luckily we made it this far without the more 'gamey' mechanics and rules damaging us. Permanently, anyway. Any other fond SimCity memories you've got from your time with the game? Were you as shocked as us to learn that real cities don't play by the same rules as the game? Share some of your own stories in the comments. SimCity is available now for the PC. - Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: Electronic Arts, Maxis, PC, SimCity


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  1. I always thought that the mayor going door to door to commercial buildings to rename them to whatever he/she wanted was an interesting idea. Imagine Bloomberg running amok changing the names of everything in Times Square to anything he wanted. It would definitely make up for the ‘no large soda cup’ nonsense, imo.

    But honestly, what did you think of the game? DRM shenanigans aside, I loved the demo. I’m looking to pick it up later this week…

  2. Haha, this is awesome!

  3. Well Andrew the only alternative is that part way through the game you get voted out of your position of power and have to begin a campaign to be re-elected before you allowed to work on your city again.

  4. I just want to say this is slightly bias. How do you know aliens dont exist? There are literally billions and billions of planets out there in space. speaking logically, it is a probable percentage that some sort of aliens exist. Weather they are hostile or not, well that remains to be seen. But still, dont say aliens dont exist when astronomer are discovering different earth like planets every day. look it up. The most recent was “super earth” in a different galaxy.

    • Aliens do exist dude… they cross into America all the time, it’s a disgusting term for them as well.

      As for living organisms on other planets in others universes, why not… there’s such a span of rocks in this place (not just earth, as a whole)… there’s bound to be a dead sun that’s got a moon that created live, and was then slandered off as Blasphemy and now worship a mighty man in the sky…

      or… they’re little bugs with 6 things similar to adomens that are used to create iron, and a giant hearing organ that also tunnels.

  5. I am seriously disappointed with the new simcity game. It’s like it was designed for 5th graders. Simcity 4 plays better than this new version and I will state why you should save your money till EA makes something worth paying the money for. 1) fixed region size. why? with version 4 there were 3rd party programs out that allowed you to modify the terrain, make rivers and areas of your own design. 2) you are being forced to limit your roads, rails and other “city connections” to fixed points on your regions. even if a train track or road is close to the “city boundary” you cannot go outside the region rectangle to connect to them. 3) there are no underpasses or overpasses so trains are forced to cross roads.period. 4) there are so many limitations. You cannot put up any advanced skyscrapers or specialty building even in the sand boxed “cheat” mode.
    IT’s like they never listened to the hard core players who loved the previous sim city games. They should have hired the third party creators who had to develop those abilities. a program called Terraformer has been out for a long time that did terrain modifications for version 4.
    EA either didn’t listen to the fans or they just don’t care.
    there is no variety. no selections of what you want to build, the game forces you to accept the limited quantity. Pathetic. certainly not worth the price they are asking for it. No harbors, no complex shipping or trucking or airport facilities? Good grief people, that’s been a staple for version 4 for ages. Now granted, some people might think that’s to complicated to do. But then again for those people, so is making a peanut butter sandwich. Didn’t anyone at EA ASK the people who did all that development on their own WHY they did it? There is a loyal, die hard fan base of the version 4 and it’s like they never got asked what they would like to see carried over to the new stuff. Or if they did they just didn’t care. A pity, I was hoping they were going to upgrade 4 to a newer, sleeker version with more abilities, but for the time being its like they took a giant BACKWARDS as far as game flexibility and content are concerned. I truly hope EA plans to address this ASAP. Otherwise they will have a lame duck program that won’t have the following it should have.

    • You have some Valid points. but what makes you think they aren’t going to add all that stuff as DLC. also on top of that as “complex” as you make sim city 4 out to be, its technically not a city simulator, its a visual city planner, that does calculations and number crunching which matches them with animations in the back ground.

      One of the major aspects of this game you are not refusing to acknowledge is the glass box engine. this game is ACTUALLY a simulation.. when there’s a traffic jam, its because there is actually a congestion of agents, rather then the game thinking (there should be a traffic jam her because of the small road density.

      Your also missing the fact its multiplier, and the city specializations.

      This is the closest thing to a simulator your ever going to play at the moment, and while i agree with most of your points, i disagree to the fact that this game is childish and rubbish.

      It may very well be that this game, as well polished and refined as it is might be a trial for the next sim city game which will include all that stuff, but its definitely doesn’t deserve a bad rap.

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