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The Building Game That Doesn’t Let You Build

In “Sim Nimby,” would-be city-builders face an intractable foe in a video-game satire of Bay Area housing politics. 

Sorry, play again.

Sorry, play again.

Photo courtesy of Steve Nass and Owen Weeks

Imagine an even-simpler version of the original late-’80s “SimCity” video game: a crude digital map dotted with a handful of pixelated single-family houses. But try to click on the screen — like, say, on the icon of a bulldozer or a factory, or just anything — so you can start laying out commercial blocks and parks and creating your pretend metropolis, which is the objective of most city-building sims, and you’ll be met with a jarring sound effect and a pop-up message: “ERROR. CAN’T BUILD IN NIMBYVILLE.”

Below that is one of many snarky excuses: “Housing is a human right! Just why does it have to be here?”