Turns out, video games are helping people develop real-world skills that can help them in real-world jobs.
Games like “SimCity,” for example, have helped peak players’ interest in city building and management, and prepared those players for actual city-based jobs, including building, transportation, housing, and other positions, reports the Los Angeles Times.
For example, since SimCity and its string of sequels were released over the course of 30 years, “the games have introduced millions of players to the joys and frustrations of zoning, street grids and infrastructure funding — and influenced a generation of people who plan cities for a living,” the Los Angeles Times says. In many cases, the games were today’s transit planners’, architects’, activists’, and others’ first exposures to running a city.
The Los Angeles Times also says that many people have said that “SimCity” helped them visualize “how a single change can affect a whole city,” how transit, livability and economy are connected, among other elements found in real-world cities.
Takeaway for decision makers: it’s not all fun and games:
But, while games like “SimCity” have played major roles in influencing job choices and skill development, they have their limitations, too.
The Los Angeles Times says, for example, “like most video games based on real-world jobs, “SimCity” oversimplifies some of the more mundane elements of urban planning. The game has never allowed mixed-use space,” which means that buildings currently seen in today’s cities, such as mid-rise apartments with ground-floor commercial space, don’t exist in the game. Plus, the game excludes bike lanes, includes unattractive parking lots, and never accurately depicts the square footage of parking lots seen in its digital cities.
Players also run the risk of growing accustomed to building cities in these games that are not feasible in real life. The Los Angeles Times says that one player who used “SimCity” built a city with no space for vehicle drivers – only for buses and trains. “But like in real life, mass transit is expensive to build and maintain in “SimCity,” and some of the residents still want to drive, no matter how convenient [a] rail system is.”
As a result, while games like “SimCity” are useful in sparking interest in city planning and building, and giving players a taste of real life, it’s not the same as real life. Decision makers who are hiring people in similar positions might consider a candidate who got their start on these types of games, but who also has real-world experience and add value to a company, and ultimately, a city.
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