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SimCity 4

Getting Started Tutorial

Examine how a city grows and develops.

(per group)


How does a city develop?

Explorations, communication, solve      

Tell students to work in their city-planning teams with their city-planning notebook and one computer equipped with SimCity 4. Using selected Screen Shots (e.g., the mayor mode information, toolbars, Timbuktu region, and Getting Started view, etc.), review with students what they will encounter during today’s activity and how they will navigate the region. Ask questions about what the screen shots show, and ask students to predict what will happen next. [This is a good opportunity to introduce related content, including zoning, transportation corridors, alternative energy sources, and infrastructure.]

Test, record, and analyze results    

Have student teams launch SimCity 4. [The opening video can be skipped by pressing the ESC key.] Ask teams to practice opening, closing, creating, naming, and saving cities and regions. Once they are comfortable, have them run the Getting Started tutorial and complete all its tasks before exiting to free play.

Be sure students observe and practice:

  • Reading the instruction screens, dialogue windows, and news ticker at the bottom of the screen.
  • Using and understanding all zones.
  • Using Hot Keys to rotate the placement of buildings, change modes, zoom in and out, add city elements, demolish or dezone areas, and change day/night cycles.
  • Performing queries.
  • Dispatching appropriate responses to disasters (fire, crime, riots) as they occur.
  • Not saving any changes when exiting tutorial regions. If students save by mistake, the tutorial can be reset back to the beginning when they re-enter the tutorial.

Ask students the following inquiry questions:

  • How does the simulation connect power and water to zones?
  • What is the first source of power you added?
  • What steps did you have to take to successfully add a bridge across the water?
  • Do you make money or spend money when you bulldoze roads and buildings?
  • What took you longer to do than you expected?
  • What are some problems your Sims asked you to solve?
  • What was difficult for you to accomplish?
  • Can you share how you solved a task with others? Do you have any tips or tricks that worked for your team?

Final product, postactivity reflections        

Have students write a reflection in their planning notebooks listing 3–5 important steps they
learned from the exercise (e.g., navigation tips, views, hotkeys, inquiries, etc.).