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The working title of the original SimCity was Micropolis.
The working title of the original SimCity was Micropolis.Source: Maxis Software/Electronic Arts/Wikipedia

How Do You Build a (Digital) City?

More than three decades after SimCity, tech companies, retailers and governments are using the game’s basic building blocks to create three-dimensional worlds. 

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In the video game SimCity, first published in 1989, players start with a simple plot of land — digital sediment that gradually transforms into a couple of houses, grows into a suburban utopia and finally materializes as a booming virtual metropolis filled with inhabitants commonly known as “Sims.” In-game city planning challenges range from the prosaic, like collecting taxes and building an electricity grid, to out-of-this-world obstacles like UFO attacks.

Fast-forward more than 30 years from that initial launch, and today’s technologists are pitching a vision in which players don’t just control Sims-like characters — they become them.