Run That Town

Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin: Australia
Languages: English
Developer: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Publisher: Commonwealth of Australia
Year Published: 2013
Platforms: iOS
Genre: Simulation, City Building
Age Range: 10+, even our adult reviewers found something to enjoy here.
Subject: Social Studies

Run That Town is a city-building game in the vein of SimCity or CityVille, but with a unique twist. Users choose their location in Australia and the city demographics, look, and gameplay change based on real-world census data. The developers hope that this creates a more personalized simulation experience – you’re not just trying to build a city, you’re trying to build your city.

Gameplay is quite simple. Players accept or reject proposals (like “build a college” or “fund school programs”), weighing their options based on the amount of resources they have on hand, as well as input from the community (and, remember, that input is based around the demographics of their actual community). The real learning starts when a great proposal crosses the player’s desk, but they realize that they don’t have the money to do so. The game forces players to make hard, unpopular decisions for their community, giving them a new perspective on civics and governance. And because all proposals have a long-term upkeep cost, future forecasting and forward thinking are a must.

Run That Town has great UI, sharp graphics and clean, easy to understand mechanics. While it might greatly simplify the dilemma of governance, it’s a unique perspective on decision-making that many other games don’t have. And while the census data and setting are specific to Australia, the lessons about decision-making are universal.