It started with Wall Street. It spread across the world. And it is met with an amazingly wide array of responses, from pepper spray to applause, by different municipal governments. As we think about the difference, say, between Irvine and Davis, both in California, it is natural to wonder if we really know enough about the different cities to understand why things unfold one way at one place but so differently at another.
City Planners will tell you at least part of the answer is in the operations of the cities themselves. City planners are trained to think of a city not as a line on a map or even a bunch of buildings and people, but as a machine, as a living, breathing organism made up of smaller organisms, all of which need to work together in order for population density, so important to industrial and post-industrial life, be bearable.
In the abstract this is, well, abstract. And most of us will never have the opportunity to visit all of the Occupy locations we wish would could see. But we can visit some of them, and we can apply what we learn to our understanding of others, all with a little brain boosting tool called, “Sim City“.
SimCity is a critically acclaimed city-building simulation video game, first released in 1989, and designed by Will Wright. SimCity was Maxis’ first product, which has since been ported into various personal computers and game consoles, and spawned several sequels including SimCity 2000 in 1994, SimCity 3000 in 1999, SimCity 4 in 2003, SimCity DS, and SimCity Societies in 2007. The original SimCity was later renamed SimCity Classic. Until the release of The Sims in 2000, the SimCity series was the best-selling line of computer games made by Maxis. SimCity spawned a series of Sim games.
On January 10, 2008 the SimCity source code was released under the free software GPL 3 license under the name Micropolis.
We will in a later article take a closer look at the GPL 3 license, but today just spend a little time thinking about cities as tech, and about how the different configuration of a city might possible affect the seeming disparities of traditionally conservative Irvine proclaiming it’s support of Occupy or of the ostensibly liberal college-town, Davis, dousing passive children with pepper spray.