A visit to the Californian town of Emeryville reveals that straightforward reality can spawn visionary fiction. With its 10,000+ residents, this stopover between Berkeley and Oakland might seem tranquil and innocuous – yet while major global construction often takes years or even decades, an Emeryville-based company conjures up new buildings and metropolises almost every minute. It was here, in 1989, that local computer game developer Maxis came up with the ur-edition of SimCity, a true classic in digital entertainment and empire building. Ever since its inception, this construction and social interaction simulation has been capturing our imagination with many variants for almost any platform, sharing ultimate cult status with seminal titles like Pac-Man, Tetris or Super Mario Bros. by now.
One of the game’s most striking characteristics: From Day One, social factors like education, traffic or even crime played a major role in shaping the city’s and protagonists‘ futures beyond the obvious city building aspects.