Watch An Urban Planner Tackle SimCity 2000

A few years ago we got an urban planner’s perspective on SimCity compared to reality. That’s great, but how about watching one play the game, providing commentary as they go?

An Actual Urban Planner Takes On The Original SimCity

In this guest editorial, John Reinhardt, a member of IBM's City Forward team, compares the actual job of urban planning with that found in the Super Nintendo version of SimCity.

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Last month Dave Amos, a former land use planner and now PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, in the process of acquiring his City and Regional Planning degree, decided to blow the dust off SimCity 2000 and see how much his practical knowledge applies to the 25-year-old game.

Right from the start, we hit upon a major difference between SimCity and the real world — sticking a coal power plant in the corner of the map so the pollution falls off the edge.

Not so fast:

…of course, the pollution really goes to neighbouring cities. Again, this argues for a regional model of planning because without it, every city would have an incentive to put polluting land uses right on their borders. But, for now, we’re going to pollute our poor neighbours instead of our citizens.

A bit later on, Amos talks about the pros and cons of small versus large grids for zoning, advocating bigger as you get more bang-for-your-buck with roads.

Unfortunately, traffic gets worse in SimCity when you have less intersections, so it doesn’t work out perfectly.

I don’t think anyone’s expecting SimCity 2000 to match reality exactly, but it’s interesting to see where things do line up.

An Urban Planner Plays Sim City [YouTube, via Fast Company]


  • How do the people living in the middle of those blocks get to their houses? I hope they’re friendly with their neighbours because they’ll be spending a lot of time walking across their lawn.

    • I always assumed the roads in SimCity 2000 where the main roads not the streets of a suburb.

      You place the main roads and the streets get built you just don’t see them.

      • That would explain why I was so bad it.
        I made sure every building faced onto a street.

        Everyone would have had a highway outside their front door. 😐

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