Screenshot of our own SimCity (called, for reasons that made sense at the time, We Are The Champignons) after three hours of game play.
In the nearly quarter-century since designer Will Wright launched the iconic urban planning computer game, SimCity, not only has the world's population become majoritatively urban for the first time in human history, but interest in cities and their design has gone mainstream.
Once a byword for boring, city planning is now a hot topic, claimed by technology companies, economists, so-called "Supermayors," and cultural institutions alike as the key to humanity's future. Indeed, if we are to believe the hype, the city has become our species' greatest triumph.
In March 2013, the first new iteration of SimCity in a decade was launched, amid a flurry of critical praise mingled with fan disappointment at Electronic Arts' "always-online" digital rights management policy and repeated server failures.
A few weeks before the launch, Venue had the opportunity to play the new SimCity at its Manhattan premiere, during which time we feverishly laid out curving roads and parks, drilled for oil while installing a token wind turbine, and tried to ignore our city's residents' -- known as Sims -- complaints as their homes burned before we could afford to build a fire station.
We emerged three hours later, blinking and dazed, into the gleaming white and purple lights of Times Square, and were immediately struck by the abstractions required to translate such a complex, dynamic environment into a coherent game structure, and the assumptions and values embedded in that translation.