SimCity and the Creative Class: Place, Urban Planning and the Pursuit of Happiness

Frederika A Eilers


Used habitually in educational settings, SimCity has been drawing many young people to design by highlighting popular aspects of urban planning. The 2007 version of the game mimics popular planning theories that resemble the controversial work of Richard Florida and his use of the creative class. Florida's writings are in this article interlinked with texts produced by Will Wright, creator of SimCity, as well as the game`s websites, manuals, in order to track these similarities. It is my understanding that both Florida's and Wright's work share and emphasize certain cultural values, including cities'  personalities. The analysis reveals how significantly the existence of happiness is linked to place in contemporary cultural setting, although Florida and Wright seem to disagree on how exactly they may relate. Furthermore, critiques of Florida also evoke criticism of the game’s suppositions. Through interpreting SimCity’s application in pedagogy, its educational value is tied to discussions of in-game assumptions which promote academic critical inquiry. The conclusion frames the game as a simulation or model in game and play theory and problematizes Wright's intention to build elaborate models based on assumptions, which players as potential urban planners absorb and emulate.


Models, Pedagogy, Richard Florida, Simulation, Social Engineering, Urban Planning, Will Wright

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