Beauty Through Destruction

I like construction simulations. The idea of being entirely responsible for a certain place in a game, of managing highly complex processes there in order to lead a rail network, a luxury hotel, a metropolis or perhaps even an entire country into blossom and prosperity, appeals to me immediately. After all, who, if not me, with my obsessed organizational talent, an eye for detail as well as the big picture, and an impeccable aesthetic sensibility, would be better suited to transform sheer nothingness into pure perfection?

But despite this enthusiasm, I never really play most games in the genre that far. Whether it was the hospitals in the fantastic Two Point Hospital, the dinosaur park in Jurassic World Evolution or the rural Japanese rail network in A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism, somehow the joy of playing left me at the first big challenge. Let them die of clown disease! Get eaten by the T-Rex! Walk to the temple on your own! I can’t take care of all these self-inflicted problems of the virtual inhabitants if they don’t share my ideas of a perfect place. Unfortunately, my understandable tendency to creative subtleties and rigid orderliness is punished by secondary game goals, which put social components before my ideal of the setting.

But where does my nevertheless unshakable love for the genre come from? It all started with Sim CIty 2000. I could never share the hype about its predecessor and the Super Nintendo version, but Sim City 2000 with its clear isometric perspective, the at the same time detailed and yet easy to read pixel graphics is for me to this day the most beautiful and best part of the series. At the same time, Sim City 2000 didn’t overburden me with features back then. In addition to electricity, I felt it was silly to lay water pipes, but that was about it. Otherwise, the principle was clear: Here a commercial area, there a residential area, in between police, fire department and hospital and a bit further away the large industry and power plants. In order to stay within budget, I resorted to a popular trick in politics: illegal donations. These, entered in the form of a cheat code, ensured that nothing stood in the way of my building spree. So, with the greatest possible care, streets and neighborhoods could be constructed on the drawing board. After that, it was really just a matter of speeding up the passing of time and watching my city flourish in all its perfection.

And yet all efforts were in vain: Somewhere the residents were dissatisfied because the electricity failed, minor crime increased or the nearest school was too far away. Yet everything was positioned exactly as it should be! The perfect cityscape was simply more important to me than the satisfaction of its inhabitants. And those who couldn’t live with my creation should feel it. So actually every round of Sim City 2000 ended the same way: I reached for the next cheat code and watched how the unworthy people and my city were swept away by tornadoes, earthquakes or even aliens.

Many cities, theme parks and other locations later, little has changed in my gameplay behavior. And somehow I ask myself: Do I actually really like construction simulations? Or is it the destruction simulations that actually excite me? Because already in philosophy it is known: No destruction, no beauty!

Sim City 2000, which actually came out for the PC back in 1993 and was ported in numerous strange versions to just about every system of the time and even the Game Boy Advance, got to bring one of the stranger hobbies of my early childhood into the digital age: Drawing street maps.

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