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Thread: Facebook city games

  1. #1
    May 2009
    Denver, Colorado

    Facebook city games

    I wanted to explore a Facebook game that dealt with building cities. To my surprise there were quite a few to choose from: Cityville, Social City, Top City, Hello City, Millionaire City, etc. Now I know they are just simple games that attempt to tap into the human addictive nature but I was hoping for some urban planning fundamentals. What I discovered is that all the games start with building single family housing. In the directions for starting these games there is a statement like, "you need to increase your population, start building homes..." This premise has just reinforced to me the suburbs are the city to many people.

    Any thoughts on how games and other media impact the general public's view of cities?

  2. #2
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    I play(ed) Cityville. It is a horrible representation of anything near real life. I imagine that it is like video games in general - people like Sim City, but it doesn't change their perception of the built environment.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  3. #3
    Jan 2011
    Sheffield, UK
    These games aren't sending any messages out about city planning, they have their own rules and ways to achieve goals.

    Although the game 'CityVille' is all about building a 'city', all it is really is a sequence of events, one farm makes x money, can be exported for x return, can be bought in at x, makes x profit etc.

    The same applies to Farmville etc.

    Simcity(4) is a bit different, it has more underlying issues about planning (houses are affected by their surroundings, commodities are exchanged between cities, transport issues are raised etc) but in the end, it doesn't reflect real life.

    Undoubtedly however most games put very basic principles of planning in a general market. I know Simcity 4 got me interested in planning for a fact.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    Of all the town building games on Fboo, Social City seems the most "complete" though they all trend toward cartoony. Social City is decent but drags, as most of these games do, after the first few days and subsequent levels.

    Cityville is just farmville in a city package, relatively linear and only working for goals. Though Social City has goals it is much more open ended and has a variety of buildings and decorations to customize your town. I still have my accounts but haven't touched them much recently.

  5. #5
    Nov 2010
    Washington, DC metro area
    I personally don't play Facebook games, but I would imagine that the reason they focus on the design elements they do is for the sake of simplicity. Like it or not, suburban development is familiar to most people and is what they think of when the words "houses", "shops", and "urban areas" are mentioned. Mixed use development is not as familiar to the general public, and the people who make the games can risk alienating the players if they incorporate such concepts. As stated above, the games aren't necessarily about designing fully functioning urban areas, but about using an urban environment as a background for something else.

    As for Simcity 4, there are ways to incorporate some aspects of New Urbanism into it (i.e. building blocks of shared uses, but guess again if you think you'll find this in the strategy guide), so it's not really as bound by "traditional" urban thought as you might think.

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