No-one is good at SimCity

22 January 2005

After Open Science last night, we sat around discussing just what had been said earlier. Tim Hubbard, of the Human Genome Project (who spoke very well) namechecked SimCity, in reference to his desire to get people playing with simulations of the economy. After all, they might turn something up.

I realised that whilst lots of people have played SimCity, myself included, no-one is any good at it. Not one person I can think of had any degree of success with it. We all start idealistically, spending not beyond our means, paying off debts as fast as possible, piling money into public services and education, and then the big space alien comes and zaps us because we have no defence budget. Either that or rioters start fires. It’s a nightmare. Chatting with Alexandra this morning, she suggested the way to succeed was starting huge, massive zoning, huge debts, and thinking in the long-term.

She also pointed out that she did know someone who was good at SimCity: her brother. Alexandra’s brother is autistic. With all this in mind, I’d love to see him set loose on the Budget.

(I also had another idea for making world-economy-sims popular: encode the world economy into the world’s most popular spreadsheet, namely Championship Manager: Man U are China, Leyton Orient are Luxembourg. Its players love the stats, the layers; the model underneath gets changed subtly, the top end doesn’t, and you’ve got the biggest ever machine-farm for experimenting with the economy – with the single exception that Everton are far better than they have any right to be).