The year: 2001. The location: the tiny tiny primary school I attended as a child.
Now, I’m talking 20 kids small and for some reason the state government of QLD at the time thought it money well spent to give our school 10 new computers. I really didn’t care, I was getting to use a computer, something new and cool that my mum didn’t let me use at home. For some other reason that I’m still not sure of each computer came with a copy of Sim City 2000.
Now, as a 10 year old I didn’t really grasp the complexity of the game at first. Hell, I didn’t even know how to make the green squares houses. The task of trying to make the city work seemed to me a lot like making a plant grow, give it power, water and some roads and you were set. However my tiny town still wouldn’t grow. Frustrated with the failure of my experiment I proceeded to destroy the older kids’ cities with monsters and fire. I gave up on the task of creating a city for a while.
A few weeks after my first experiment I decided to start again and this time I had so much more luck. One of the grade 7 kids was starting a city and, being the brilliant and sharp man I am, I did the only thing a respectable and clever person does: I copied the entirety of what he was doing, right down to creating and then deleting roads he didn’t like. Finally my dream to be a city planner had come to fruition. I WAS GOD. Except the kid next to me had a short attention span and within a hour of starting “ROSSISCOOLVILLE” it had died in a fiery rubble of mismanagement and stupidity. Yes, I may have created a inland sea and spend all the cities money on bulldozing but so what it was my town.
Since picking up the basics from that one game I tried again and again, eventually tiring myself from constantly blowing all the citiy budget trying to make a massive pyramid. I started to play properly, trying to manage taxes while giving the citizens all the things they craved. My teacher, impressed I had picked details of such a game, told my mum and much to my delight mum got a copy for the PC we had just bought.
I was so hyped on that day, I got to play Sim City at home with no outside distractions and no time limit. It was like 10-year-old-nerd-heaven. I even showed my mum how to play, which I would soon regret because she also became very fond of the game. Soon our whole family was playing and planning cities. I got mad with my sisters taking my play time so i resorted to the only possible retribution that would equal my pain. I named all my cities “Insert sister here” LIKESPOOPVILLE.
Birthdays went by and I received my new gaming addiction: Pokemon Yellow. I occasionally went back to Sim City out of boredom and each time I did i got hooked all over again. It just has a tremendous depth that absorbs all of my brain power. With the release of the newest Sim City in the franchise and the complaints that it uses always online DRM and the maps are smaller, to be honest, those facts don’t bother me that much. I fell in love with Sim City and I hope some more kids fall in love with the newest iteration and build their own “JAKESGOTSWAGVILLE” and “EMILYISDOPEVILLE” because those memories are special. Those memories are what gaming is all about.