Watch a city planner employ eminent domain in SimCity 2000



I’ve always held a fascination with city planning and architecture. My mom still has the drawings of imaginary cities I would make on the back of paper placemats in restaurants and for a brief moment when I was a kid, I wanted to become an architect. I ultimately chose a more chaotic field of study but part of me still loves the order and planning of building a city. I get my city planning jollies by reading the work of Darran Anderson and playing games like Cities: Skyline and Project Highrise.

But what happens when an actual city planner plays the classic SimCity 2000? This past week, Dave Amos, a former city planner and current City Planning Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley uploaded a run of him starting a city from scratch. Using his experience and education, he designed a city that adhered to real-world conventions while also gaming the system to take advantage of the limitation of the 25-year-old game. For example, I never knew that if you placed your power plants at the edge of your map, most of the pollution went out of your city grid and therefore didn’t count against you.

Peppered throughout the video are little observations about the things Maxis got right about city planning and some areas where they had to bend reality to make a better game. At one point though Amos flexes his god-like powers and demolishes the oldest city block in town in favor of new more expensive residential buildings. Eminent domain ho!

I don’t know if I’m the only one but I love these types of videos and articles where real-world experts play and critique games that replicate their professions. While it isn’t always the case, game designers get it right more times than you would think.