Categories : Weekly Blog
Paradox Interactive’s award-winning city builder Cities: Skylines is now available on TeacherGaming Desk! Cities: Skylines - Education Edition lets your students build their own cities from scratch, play challenging scenarios and even design urban utopias with unlimited funds. Great stuff!
But how should you, as the teacher, approach using the game in the classroom, and which topics can you teach with it? Read on for a few great examples:
Planning, building and managing infrastructure is the bread and butter of Cities: Skylines. As the nigh-omnipotent mayor of your city, you need to not only build roads and zone areas, but provide crucial services to your residents. For example, a hospital needs good access to all its surrounding regions so that medical emergencies can be solved without loss of life.
The number of options the game offers when it comes to civil engineering are truly staggering. When building a power plant, you have a wide variety of choices, ranging from noxious coal plants to clean windmills to advanced geothermal plants. With roads, you are not limited to conventional roads: monorails, blimps, ferries, trains are just some of the options you have. And all of these choices must be utilized with proper planning, or your city will grind to a halt.
Cities: Skylines allows students to design their own city grid as they see fit. What’s more, it makes the process of understanding city construction and planning tangible. If your choices lead to congested gridlocks, the game will let you know why, and always provides you with the tools to fix any problem.
Teach 21st Century Skills
Want to let students flex their creative muscles? Make them consider how their own city could go green? One of the most fun things to do with Cities: Skylines is to toggle on infinite funds and just go wild. Will your students build a pollution-free utopia that utilizes every manner of public transportation imaginable? Or perhaps they will want a series of islands, all connected by ferries. Or a green paradise that only utilizes self-sufficient buildings, with organic produce and recycling centers round every corner.
Pick a theme for a lesson that the students need to keep as their guiding line. Maximize citizen happiness. Build the greenest city possible. Eliminate traffic in a large city. The beautiful part of all this is that you can use pretty much any approach you like: students can start from scratch, use a city you’ve built previously, or use any of the custom scenarios that are ready to be played right away.
A crucial element of any game of Cities: Skylines is managing your city budget. Just like in real life, the city budget comes from taxing the citizens, and must provide for the infrastructure, services, maintenance and the salaries of city personnel. Though a fledgling in-game city only needs the bare minimum - living space, water and electricity - other crucial needs soon pop up.
Can students balance various expenses, growth, happiness and a steady flow of income? Loans help to fuel rapid growth, but can become a crutch and lead to a financial downward spiral should they be mismanaged. Balancing service budgets is no easier: neglect something essential, such as education, and people leave. Overspend and other equally valuable services will be neglected.
City-wide economics is not easy, but luckily it is not merely challenging: it’s rewarding and fun as well. After the trying first hour or so, students will often be experienced enough to master even the hardest fiscal duties.
Or... Teach What You Want!
These are just some examples of using Cities: Skylines in the classroom. Why not also go for group activities, creative projects, and problem-solving assignments? A games as complex and diverse as this provides countless opportunities for learning and classroom activities.
To get started, check out Cities: Skylines - Education Edition on TeacherGaming Store!