SimCity Societies and BP

Launching in two weeks, SimCity Societies has a new feature set for creating cities based on the societal values of "productivity, prosperity, creativity, spirituality, authority, and knowledge," according to the Electronic Arts site. As the New York Times previously reported, Electronic Arts partnered with BP (formerly British Petroleum) to develop "a more nuanced power generation and pollution simulation." Today, Scientific American looks at SimCity Societies and how it's meant to model societal evolution. From the article:
SimsocietyThe goal is to produce a high level of "societal energy," by developing a city with one or more of the game's six values. Societal energy is a fairly intangible force, but players know they have it when their cities grow and their citizens are happy and productive. "If you put the city together right, it has the right energy," says Rachel Bernstein, producer of SimCity Societies. Players place buildings within their cities in order to maximize the values most important to them, whether they are productivity and prosperity or creativity and spirituality...

BP saw its role as helping EA–and by extension SimCity players–understand the role of electricity in climate change. "Globally, twice as many emissions come from generating electricity than from all forms of transportation–planes, trains, cars and others," says Carol Battershell, vice president for strategy and policy at the company's subsidiary, BP Alternative Energy.

"We wanted there to be a range of power sources and an understanding of the impact of each, including local pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the willingness of people to live next to energy-producing facilities," she adds. "SimCity is a strategy game, and these have been shown to be a good for helping people understand complex issues."
Link to Scientific American, Link to buy SimCity Societies

• SimCity adds global warming to the mix Link
• SimCity for Sims Link


  1. …Ok, so the graphics are getting closer, but will this version of SimWhatever *finally* allow us the opportunity to model Los Angeles as seen in Blade Runner -and- tell whether that sort of megalopolis would work?

  2. Pff. This totally goes against the true purpose of SimCity- namely to build a cool city then destroy it in as many ways you can think of.


  3. “Spirituality” and “Authority” are bugs, not features– they’re the means by which con men and/or thugs extract money from suckers. Why would you want either in an ideal city?

  4. Jayerandom, you’re talking about a game series which prominently features giant monster attacks… I don’t think they have a problem with portraying spirituality in an idealized way.

  5. @Jayerandom, that’s funny! But is the aim of this game to make an “ideal” city or to simulate various kinds of cities

  6. “Pff. This totally goes against the true purpose of SimCity- namely to build a cool city then destroy it in as many ways you can think of.


    …Funny you should bring this up. Some years ago, a friend of mine called me up after attending Sunday services at the church of his choice. The preacher – a rather devout fire-and-brimstone holy rolling bibble thumper – had apparently discovered his son with a copy of SimEarth, and after having witnessed the following:

    1) The explanation of the “Gaia” concept.

    2) The concepts of Evolution being played out.

    3) His son playing “God” and destroying the world *repeatedly*.

    …He decided that all computer simulations are the work of Satan, and that computers should be restricted from doing anything other than e-mail and word processing. Anyone using a computer for anything else is a sinner and must repent or go to Hell.

    …The congregation was, to say the least, shocked into silence. That was, until the Sunday School teacher stood up and asked the preacher “well, what about that Excel spreadsheet we use to keep track of volunteer schedules?”, which was followed immediately after with the church accountant asking about that copy of Quicken they used for keeping the books straight. The sermon then degenerated into a rather humorous debacle of “what about…?” that after 20 minutes the preacher was forced to admit defeat and switched to safer pulpit prattle, such as abstaining from teenage sex.

    Heh, wonder what he’d say about JFK Reloaded :p

  7. Am I the only one confused as to why EA decided a giant multinational corporation that’s been found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act (which was meant to let corporations like BP get away with a hell of a lot anyway) as well as being accused multiple times for price gouging (several big shareholders plead guilty) would be a good place to ask about an ideal city?

    Sounds to me like it’s just EA’s way of getting a bunch of cash and BP’s way of helping people “understand the role of electricity in climate change.”

  8. @3,
    They’re simulating the perfect city, not the perfect human being. You can’t have a functioning city with no authority until you first invent a type of human being that doesn’t require authority to function in large groups. Perhaps it could be a city for robots, though. They don’t require authority or spirituality!

  9. As you say, Nonesuch. And just look at spirituality — a range of experiences reported by millions of human beings over a span of time measured in millennia. How lucky we are to have finally been told it’s just a con game!

    Tsol (8), the New Deal was pretty much over and done with by the time urban renewal was invented in the late 40s, and it has no overlap with the advent of brutalist architecture in the 50s. The Great Society programs didn’t start until the 60s. Neither the New Deal nor the Great Society initiatives had the purpose with which you credit them.

  10. I don’t understand why I had to pay $50 for a game that so strongly promotes BP’s public relations agenda.

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