SimCity

 

Learning(i)

Exciting but technically flawed city-building simulation.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game is all about building and maintaining a metropolis. Because you want to keep your citizens happy and make life enjoyable and productive for your people, it has a positive message. It also teaches players about choice and consequences: for example, if you build too many factories, it causes pollution and residents will complain. As a result, you might consider greener alternatives like wind power. 

Positive role models

You are the mayor of this city, so you become your own role model. Since there are consequences for doing bad things for the community, the game nudges you into becoming a positive role model.

Ease of play

As with its predecessors, SimCity can be a very challenging game to play. But there is a mandatory tutorial to teach the basics of the game. Still, even seasoned gamers will experience a learning curve for the first while.

Violence

While not graphic, violence can erupt in your city. You may hear gunshots and see cartoon characters engage in a shootout with the police while trying to rob a bank. Or you might see a monster or UFO attack your city. There is also some mention of violence in a news ticker.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy and safety concerns. Gamers can access other people's cities online, but there is no communicating between players (as there is with many other games).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that SimCity is a simulation game about constructing cities. Players must build and then micromanage a growing city, trade resources with neighbors, and work towards a goal. Parents should know, however, there is some violence in the game -- a bank robbery and shootout with police, alien and monster attacks, and natural disasters than can partially wipe out your city -- but nothing is graphic. Finally, parents should be aware a persistent Internet connection is required for this game.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • graphing
  • probability

Science

  • engineering
  • electricity
  • weather

Social Studies

  • events
  • government
  • citizenship

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • decision-making
  • applying information

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • developing novel solutions
  • imagination

Self-Direction

  • set objectives
  • work to achieve goals
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses

Collaboration

  • group projects
  • meeting challenges together

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility
  • honoring the community
  • learning from consequences

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Despite the game's technical problems, kids will love building bustling and attractive cities, although each is boxed-in.

Learning Approach

Kids learn about cities by building and managing their own simulated. By playing SimCity players see the consequences of their decisions, and learn about architecture, budgets, environmental issues, and more.

Support

Between the game’s advisors and interface, kids will almost always have an idea of what to do next and how to do it.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • estimation
  • graphing
  • probability

Science

  • engineering
  • electricity
  • weather

Social Studies

  • events
  • government
  • citizenship

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • decision-making
  • applying information

Creativity

  • producing new content
  • developing novel solutions
  • imagination

Self-Direction

  • set objectives
  • work to achieve goals
  • identifying strengths and weaknesses

Collaboration

  • group projects
  • meeting challenges together

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility
  • honoring the community
  • learning from consequences

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Kids can learn a number of things about creating and running a city, and how to keep the residents happy. The game teaches about zoning, power distribution, traffic congestion, money management, environmental respect, waste removal, recovering from natural disasters, cooperating with nearby cities, and much more. By taking on the role as mayor of an expanding city, kids will soak up a lot of business, city planning, and ecology concepts.

This Learning Rating review was written by Marc Saltzman

Parents say

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What's it about?

One of the oldest and most successful computer game series has just been rebooted. SIMCITY, the open-ended city-building simulation that first debuted almost a quarter of a century ago, has undergone a much-needed makeover. Once again you're a mayor tasked with building and maintaining a thriving city: you’ll build roads and construct buildings to lure in residents; provide job opportunities by laying down commercial and industrial businesses; ensure power, water, and waste flows smoothly throughout the city; and fix problems to keep your residents happy, such as addressing high taxes, pollution, crime, and natural and unnatural disasters (such as earthquakes and UFO attacks, respectively). As you’d expect, every single decision you make shapes your city. Traffic congestion could prevent emergency services from reaching a location in a timely manner. To reduce pollution you might implement greener technology, like windmills, but it’ll likely mean higher unemployment. If you want to build up your city into a tourist haven, you might build a casino and widen roads to other cities –- but this will cost the taxpayer. If you need to scale back on public schools to save cash, parents might protest at city hall.

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Seasoned SimCity players should know this new game doesn’t offer subways, agriculture, or land terraforming. Instead, for the first time in a SimCity game there’s multi-city play, where you can invite friends to see your city, visit other cities for business opportunities (such as trading resources), or collaborate to build a city together or compete in various online challenges.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

SimCity is an exciting game, but the launch of this game has been heavily marred by technical issues. You see, an Internet connection is required -- even though it's primarily a single-player game -- and what's more, your game information is housed on EA's servers, therefore you can't play if they're down or busy. Another problem with mandatory Internet connectivity: forget about playing this game on your laptop while flying across the country, unless the airline offers Wi-Fi. Just as there was backlash against Activision Blizzard for a similar restriction in Diablo III, many players resent this requirement in SimCity.

This is all too bad as underneath all the technical restrictions and connectivity woes there's a very good game. Hopefully EA will fix the issues sooner than later, so players can enjoy the thrill of building and maintaining a city they can call their own.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about SimCity's required Internet connection -- even though it's a single-player game. Yes, you can visit cities created by others, but EA has chosen to make persistent online connectivity mandatory, which has upset players. Not only won't you be able to play with no connection (such as an airplane) but you're relying on EA's server to host the games, which can be buggy or too busy. What do you think about building a game that has to be played online?

  • Families can also discuss why simulation games are so compelling. What do you like about managing this game? What do you not like?

Game details

Platforms:Windows
Price:$59.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Electronic Arts
Release date:March 5, 2013
Genre:Simulation
Topics:Cars and trucks, Magic and fantasy, High school, Science and nature, Space and aliens, Trains
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Violence (Windows)

This review of SimCity was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byslyfox432 October 13, 2013
age 10+
 

Great with some concerns.

On for ages 10 and up just like CSM said. LOTS of positive characters and role models. Not so much violence. Parents may be concerned because you need internet connection to play, and they might think it's not so safe. Overall a nice game, only concerns is the privacy and safety.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byMath345 December 30, 2013
age 10+
 

Good Game

Its a very good and entertaining game. Online, not extremely addictive. Very changeing and fun.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 15 years old Written byLetterz February 8, 2014
age 9+
 
LEARNING

Simcity

I think this game is great. There are a few times where it can get a little iffy, such as when there are police shootouts, or some of the disasters, but those are really the only concerns. It isn't the most realistic simulator, but it's ok.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Easy to play/use

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