Zynga's CityVille is flawed (and brilliant): The issue of roads

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CityVille no roads
Ever visited a friend's city in CityVille and notice something odd. It doesn't look like a city at all. There are rows upon rows of sushi bars on one end of the town while there is a slew of expensive chateaus on the other. (If everyone is living in $1 million homes and eating sushi all day, who is working at the banks and post offices much less the sushi bars?) But continue to suspend your disbelief for a moment and look between these fine, unrealistically placed establishments surrounded by elaborate bushes. Where did all the roads go?

They're gone, because they are worthless in CityVille. Roads cost 10 coins per square and serve no other purpose than to give pedestrians a place to walk between Businesses. However, Sidewalks cost double that, but take up less space and are much, much longer. So, what reason would an illustrious mayor have to place roads in their city rather than sidewalks. That's valuable space wasted that could be used by more homes and businesses. This is a fundamental flaw to CityVille and one of several reasons why players have reached such astronomical levels so quickly.

Cityville roads
It's also why cities in CityVille are so far disconnected from what actual cities look like. Sure, it'd be near impossible with today's technology to transform the intricacies and neuroses of a real city into a videogame much less a social game. But it's oversights like this that make that distinction so glaringly obvious. Cities in CityVille are flawed cities because they fail to take into account even basic concepts like location and redundancy when placing homes and businesses. Surely most of you high-level players had a thought like this cross your mind as you were playing: "What Business makes the most money? That one? OK, let's build a ton of them and surround them with bushes."

This isn't to say that Zynga's Business mechanic is anything short of brilliant. It gets players to think critically and apply concepts, something more gamers, traditional and social alike, need to exercise. But it's oversights (or intentional design) like rendering basic infrastructure tools entirely worthless that make CityVille appear terribly flawed through one lens and clever in others. On one hand, CityVille's lack of functional roads is an insult to gamers' intelligence everywhere. Yet on the other, it's complete genius for helping turn one of the most complex professions, urban planning, into a game that over 95 million players enjoy. Would I like to see more realistic, organic cities? Absolutely. In that case, does the game need anymore complexity? Probably not.

What do you think of the look of cities in CityVille? Would you like to see this part of the game's design change? Do you use roads anyway for aesthetics's sake? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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