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ERIC Number: ED384539
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Sep
Pages: 22
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Politics of City Planning Simulations.
Kolson, Kenneth
This research paper presents an analysis of the computer simulation, SimCity, used for an urban city planning class. The data were gathered by actual use of the simulation and an electronic mail network was employed to secure impressions from users of the simulation. SimCity (developed by Maxis) provides the player with rules of human factors, economic factors, survival factors, and political factors that are both opportunities and constraints to the master planner. In addition, there are numerous maps to monitor land use patterns, zoning, demography, pollution, and other factors as the simulation progresses. The simulation also allows the user to manipulate tax rates and funding levels for the city. The point of the simulation is to duplicate the real world of urban politics with the instantaneous ability of the computer. The attraction of SimCity is the resemblance to the real-life choices that city planners must make to keep the city functioning. Analysis of the limitations of the simulation includes: (1) the over-reliance on mass transit; (2) the tendency to clump zones together then destroy them completely through urban renewal efforts; (3) the premise that the form of local government has little effect on public policy; (4) deficit spending by cities in the simulation is not an option; (5) there is no interaction of the simulation city with the surrounding region; (6) the citizens in the simulation must reside in the city, unable to move to the suburbs, thus creating another level of conflicting bureaucracy; (7) the city residents are completely rational creatures in their calculation of their own economic interest, with no regard for the public interest; and (8) the unlimited role of the mayor in municipal government. Three insoluble problems of the simulation include: (1) SimCity's role of planning in urban development; (2) the neglect of race as one of the most salient features of U.S. urban life; and (3) the underestimation of the social, as opposed to the material, dimensions of city life. (EH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A