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Journal of Geography


For millions of gamers and students alike, city building games (CBGs) like SimCity and the more recent Cities: Skylines present a compelling initial introduction to the world of urban planning and development. As such, these games have great potential to shape players’ understanding and expectations of real urban patterns and processes. In this article I argue that, despite the fundamental role of agency in CBGs and other sandbox type games, players are constrained by the developers’ assumptions and biases regarding how cities ought to look and function. Of particular consideration is the tendency among CBGs to emphasize personal transportation over transit, autocentric over mixed-use development, and simplified social dynamics over a more realistic model.


© B. Bereitschaft This is an Open Access article. Non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly attributed, cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way, is permitted. The moral rights of the named author have been asserted.

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Funded by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Open Access Fund