From these simulations, the logic of the game goes, you can abstract urban design principles. Where our cities appear unpredictably chaotic and impossibly complex, SimCity harmoniously tames this uncertainty into a manageable landscape. It offers a micropolis (as it was originally titled) to serve as a model for our own. It represents our cities not as they are but as they could be: calculated, optimized, controlled.

That vision is rapidly becoming our reality. The game’s simulational thinking has restructured how we relate to our politics and ourselves, to our work and our play — in short, to our social space. So-called “smart” cities have already started to deploy its techniques as Silicon Valley — home to Wright as well as Cisco and Microsoft — moves into the business of constructing cities.