Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SimCity 4: Obama's Tutorial


I spent my Sunday playing Simcity 4, a building and maintaining a city scenario game. I thought about the game and realized that the designers of the game had to arrive at a theory of economic principles so that the various combinations of factors would play out in success of failure. The designers could be free marketers or Keynsian believers. I had a difficult time getting my city to grow and sustain positive cash flow. It was as if the city’s economy was in a depression worse than the 1930’s. Unemployment was high and the government was running a deficit. Since we are in similar economic times and our President is making spot on decisions, I thought I would emulate his approach.
First, I raised taxes on the rich and lowered taxes on the poor. By raising taxes on the rich, new jobs should be created and new businesses opened. Instead, the rich left town and I was left with all low income zoning, poor education and high crime.
Next, I took out loans that ballooned my treasury so that I could do public works projects. By taking out the loan and infusing the economy with money, I would again stimulate job and business growth. Instead, desirable companies left. My industry was dirty and commerce was low-end retail. Additionally, the interest on the loan put me further into a deficit.
Finally, I increased government jobs by adding every kind of park, police, fire, and healthcare department there is, along with extra city buildings to maintain. By increasing government payrolls, I would cut unemployment. It is funny that no matter how many government workers I had, I didn’t create any new jobs. My deficit ballooned and I was eventually thrown out of office as Mayor.
It makes so much sense to a game designer that big government doesn’t work. As a game player, it also makes sense. I think that they should design a game called simnation. This game would allow the President to play out all of his theories on economics on his computer before he tries them out on us.

3 comments:

Spada said...

Oh!!!!

I don't know why you don't have any comments!!!!!!!! - Because I have experienced the same thing and I'm sure so has everyone playing the game!

I was looking for a posting to tell me how I could arrange "deals" to help me win the game.

I teach this game to children. How am I going to explain to seven-year-olds that eventually their beloved, and so far really, really fun towns will die? That the beaches, playgrounds, fun parks etc. will -what will happen?

I understand and even agree with the lessons of the "game," like the lesson that garbage creates air pollution or dirty water. The jobs part is probably true too, -sadly. Maybe even the eventual breakdown of the city. I used to work in downtown L.A. Infrastructure such as power plants do age. The rich do leave behind the poor. I've even seen riots and car burnings in an accidental high population, extreme overcrowding, almost non-existent police force, low education environment I created. By the way, I didn't mean to create it.

I wanted to see if I could build wealth and eventual stability if I took every way of spending money. I was also really tired and let the game automatically set up streets and zoning.

Also the game cheats!!!! The money you borrow to invest in a city speeds up it's spending or slows it down...I don't know how to describe this...inconsistently, I guess. So sometimes the game makes you run out of money faster than you should -and in one case, the money and the jobs are keeping the budget stable, when no other cities have done the same under similar circumstances.

Another thing: when I've tried to lower government spending and or get rid of buildings, utilities etc, in order to lower the budget, it seems like the game doesn't account for all outgoing spending. Amazingly, is the game trying to tell us that utility companies and government are charging money that doesn't add up or isn't accounted for?

I really don't know what to do about the children I'm teaching. Even if I wanted to carefully explain why, which I don't, because of their ages, they wouldn't understand.

Does the game have an age appropriate on it? It should!!!!This is bad, really bad. My kids are going to ask, why the game shut down!!!

As for myself,I am upset too! Why isn't there someway to have a good outcome? Is there?

jrchaard said...

The reason I don't get any comments is that people don't usually come to "Zulubuff" for game reviews. Play sim city 4, the real balance is about shifting your economy over time. It won't let you force anything even with cheats. Make sure you have power and water for all. The best cheat you can use is private schools because that allows you increase education without spending. You want police, health and fire to be just enough to get you buy. Don't build any glitzy buildings and use parks strategically. Place bases, missle testng and federal prison on the outskirts of town. Use your desirability map. That will show you where to zone based on desirability. Start with farming and light zoning, then rezone the same areas to dense. If your education is right, the zoning will shift to High tech all on its own. Make sure that you don't isolate industry. It has to be mixed with residential and commerce to give you the low polutting industry. Make sure ordinances are used to attract education and commerce, and cut traffic down. And when it comes to traffic, I try to use highways, with one or two main highways, no subways or bus. Also, try to grid your areas in such a way that you can do one way streets, alternating directions. This makes traffic flow quickly. And use avenues too. Watch your powerplant and water life cycle. When the efficiency goes down, it is better to blow it up and build a new one as opposed to building additional plants. I use non polluting plants.

Anonymous said...

Why are you having so many proplems with this game, its not that hard!!!
Just zone a lot of medium houses, add a couple of comercial areas, and a industry area on the edge of the map, next next too the coal power plant, the rest of the map should be filled with agriclture, and add a waterpump near the clean comercial and residential area.. soon the money will be comming in when you have big enough profit add firestation near the industry area and a school in the residential area add as much school ass posiple without lossing money, soon the people will have good education, then connect it to the next site, go in there make a clean sity filled with high tech and skyskrapers with lot of education and comercial areas with hospitals....
simple right......
my email is: jan. jacobsen. jan @hotmail .com (remove the spaces)