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SimCity That I Used to Know

On the game’s 25th birthday, a devotee talks with creator Will Wright

Doug Bierend
Oct 17, 2014 · 7 min read
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SimCity, the classic PC game that makes mayors out of middle schoolers, turned 25 last week. Well, actually that’s a common misconception — the IBM version of SimCity was released in October of ‘89, but the original (for Mac and Amiga), came out in February. I found this out from Will Wright, the game design guru behind SimCity and the genre of games it spawned, whose mental history of the legendary game is presumably more accurate than the Internet’s. “I think everybody just puts too much trust in Wikipedia,” he said.

Regardless of its precise birthday, SimCity was a hugely influential game. Popularizing a genre of “software toys” that presented players with an interactive, complex world writ little, gamers growing up in the ‘90s may remember a time when any new PC title from Maxis (the company Wright founded with partner Jeff Braun) bearing the prominent ‘SIM’ prefix promised endless hours of play time that wasn’t about winning or losing, but experimentation and discovery. The Sim series also represents a philosophy about design, and the role of play in our learning process.

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A screenshot from the original SimCity game for the Macintosh.
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Will Wright
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A screenshot from the first Windows version of SimCity.
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A screenshot of the 2013 version of SimCity, its fifth major installment.
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re:form

A field guide to the designed world

Doug Bierend

Written by

In Search of Mycotopia out in March 2021 w/ Chelsea Green 🍄 Bylines @ Wired, Vice, Motherboard , The Counter , Civil Eats , The Atlantic, Outside Magazine, etc

re:form

re:form

A field guide to the designed world

Doug Bierend

Written by

In Search of Mycotopia out in March 2021 w/ Chelsea Green 🍄 Bylines @ Wired, Vice, Motherboard , The Counter , Civil Eats , The Atlantic, Outside Magazine, etc

re:form

re:form

A field guide to the designed world

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