SimCity has always been a puzzle to many gamers; not only was it one of the world’s first open-ended video games ever, but it was also the first time that video games explored a facet of everyday life that would be considered bland and banal to many fans of fast-paced first-person shooters by putting players in the inglorious position of a city planner. There are no set objectives, no plot, and no endgame to speak of. The entire game is essentially a lesson in civic engineering and economics, and yet, few games can match SimCity for its ability to draw people in and keep them playing for hours upon hours. As a result, its designers have begun to realize the full potential that SimCity has as something more than just a video game, but an educational tool that makes seemingly dull aspects of modern society into something that can enthrall students of all ages.

With EA and Maxis preparing to roll out the next iteration of the landmark series on March 5th, the video game company has teamed up with GlassLab, a non-profit devoted to utilizing video games as educational platforms, to create SimCityEDU. The project is an online educational community designed to help promote student interest in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). With SimCityEDU, educators will be able to create and share digital lesson plans based on and using SimCity in order to promote critical thinking on real-world issues that affect modern towns and cities, and improve student understanding of environmental management, urban planning, and socio-economic development.

“For decades, SimCity has been embraced by the educational community as an engaging videogame that also provides a powerful learning experience, teaching problem solving skills through imaginative civic gameplay,” said Lucy Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and General Manager of EA’s Maxis Label. “We want to up the ante ofSimCity’s educational influence. Through our partnership with GlassLab, SimCity will become the foundation of a program to re-imagine learning in a way that will inspire today’s youth to get excited about STEM education and become the problem solvers of tomorrow.”

Given the increased popularity of hybrid courses centered around particular themes of modern life, it will be interesting to see how SimCityEDU will be employed on the collegiate level for majors like civil engineering, economics, public administration, green development, and other STEM-based concentrations, not to mention video game design. For more information on SimCityEDU, visit the SimCity website.