Adventures of a Non-Gamer: SimCity
By Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
Attention, gamers! I have found something that I am worse at than operating controllers. I know hard to believe, right? I have delved into the world of PC gaming. That is right, I have done the unthinkable and become one of those people I did not understand at all and I have completely changed my opin– actually, none of my opinions on PC gaming have changed at all. I don’t get the appeal, but maybe I understand it a little better. What I meant to say is I tried a computer game — the latest SimCity.
I have heard this name tossed around for years and I never understood what it was. I just know there was some version of it where you operated little people and made them do whatever you wanted. This was the hardest thing for me to understand because you can also do the same thing with dolls, right? Maybe everyone who plays The Sims was super obsessed with dolls as a child, and this is their adult version of exercising that hobby. I’m basically a psychologist, so you should listen to me on this topic. (Basically a psychologist = definitely not even close to being a psychologist/listen to me = please consider my theory). But this was not The Sims… this was an entirely different animal. This was SimCity. I can’t even express to you how ridiculous the thought of me planning an actual city is. Good thing this was just a virtual situation, or I would have destroyed some perfectly innocent lives when all they needed was some water and proper sewage systems.
First of all, it’s super fun to build cities… in theory. It was actually way more in-depth than I thought it would be. For example, do you like medium-density streets or high-density streets? Streets have density, you guys! Who knew? I mean, is this asking if I was a major highway or a little dirt road? I don’t understand this language. Also, I felt a little rebellious just putting businesses and neighborhoods wherever I please. Isn’t there some kind of zoning meeting I have to attend at city council? If they want it to feel truly authentic they should let you get into fights with the historic district representatives about whether or not the water tower you just invented is an eyesore.
In any case, I had one very specific question about this particular adventure — how is this a game? That’s not a joke, I really wanted to know. It seems like more of a leisurely pursuit than a game, and I’m not even knocking it… that’s just an honest observation. It’s possible I’m missing some major aspect of this (nothing has ever been more possible), but I wanted something to do other than “plan.” Can homegirl get some kind of objective or mission other than balancing my city budget? I can barely balance my own real-life budget, so really the city-wide budget made me want to cry. Anyway, I went to the one person who could tell me the point of this — little bro, of course! Pete said that people want to get their cities to be self-sustaining without having to constantly watch it or fix things. Okay, so that’s what we’re shooting for. How long does this take? Hours? Days? Weeks? Months? What happens when it’s self-sustaining? Build more cities? SO MANY QUESTIONS, SO LITTLE TIME. Overall, I guess you could say that my experience with this was enlightening in that I know to never be in charge of anything that involves designing traffic patterns or figuring out the best way to combat ground pollution.
I think one thing became clear to me towards the end of my session; this game is an investment of time. When I first logged on and it offered to let me join a game, I did a spit-take (the ladylike version) when I noticed that people were “active for six hours” and “active for eight hours.” There are people who sit and play this for eight hours? Whaaaaaaaaat. I hope that number means something else. Maybe if I was willing to invest more time into this, I would have more fun with it. We’ll see about that.
Happy gaming, you gamers!