SimCity Fanfic: The College Years

To celebrate today's release of the newest SimCity, fantasy writer Kaila Hale-Stern cooked up some juicy fanfic. So enjoy her tale of multiplayer planetary population, dorm-room politics, and, well, a set of Sims making their way in their respective worlds.

Ben gets back from class in time to see that Nina has built up the commercial district of Pluto, and business is booming. He helps with the expansion, then checks in with the Region's progress. They're all building fast, but not fast enough, not if they're going to show Davidson Hall what they can do.

James and Grant are in their room upstairs, but on-screen their industrial city Saturn is five miles away, busy providing jobs and resources and a bit too much air pollution for Ben's comfort. Carrie has lectured them enough about the benefits of building out green industry from the start, but they can't all afford to be idealistic R.A.s.

Carrie's sprawling Jupiter may be a shining beacon of environmentalism on a hill, Ben thinks as he invests in coal for the good of his utilities pricing, but he knows his Sims will appreciate the hospital he'll soon be able to build from the coal profits more than solar-powered paneling.

Martin has a chem exam but his megalopolis Mars is still prospering, earning him a tidy profit for future spending and expansion. Hard to believe Martin had been the most resistant to the dorm-wide effort, claiming he preferred his games on tabletops. But the whole floor took him under their collective wing, and he'd studied their tips and tricks in real time and now was at an envious fiscal advantage.

Ben is jealous of his multiple tax initiatives and will have to look at Martin's economic plan, since his own citizens keep breaking out in protest. At least unemployment is down because of the sector Nina's created. He's glad. Before he went to class, the rioting and his approval rating had made him fear a revolution, and he hates to have to be The Man.

The good news is that all of Kirk Hall's Region is expanding. Every day they weather the hazards of the world economy and plot expansion with increasingly advanced resources and clever planning. They are set to overtake Davidson's combined GDP any day now.

The bad news is that there's a massive fire breaking out in Venus' newest residential enclave, and if it threatens the airport they'll all feel the impact as tourism falters. Luckily Dee's already on the case, sending the fire trucks speeding over from their well-appointed base in Mercury.

We need that hospital, Nina messages. On the streets of Pluto, its Plutonians are turning visibly ill. Soon there will be a march about it, thinks Ben.

On it, he assures, but that's when Grant dials in with a code red, and it's a big one, a UFO sighting over Saturn's New London district. They reschedule the earthquake they had planned to test the infrastructure of Uranus' water systems and head over to meet the crisis.

As the lone political science major Ben's elected to the task of handling this particular crisis of diplomatic proportions. The dorm breathes a collective sigh of relief when the panicking local economy rebounds, then turn back to their developing projects while the Region's governments cover up the latest extraterrestrial visitation, as per usual.

To make up for the coal and the continued lack of hospital, Ben establishes a small arts district in Pluto's up-and-coming neighborhood and a new school in its poshest, next to the park.

Good monster wrangling, sends James. Saturn is so flush with cash that he's had time to turn his roadways into a masterwork of efficient art, upping the flow of constant industry. Ben's Sims might be envious of the Saturnian's standard of living, but they aren't in a hurry to move there. The wait for the hospital is preferable to the thick smog-cloud that hovers over Saturn, and Nina's contributions while he was away have saved the workday. There hasn't even been any call for Ben's resignation in the press since lunchtime.

Eyes on the prize, agrees Martin, back from being tested. Ben checks in on Mars and tries not to shake his fist over how much Martin's careful planning has paid off while he was gone. Martin has proved to be a stealth gamer.

He scrolls from his envy of Saturn's roads and Mars' sprawl and goes to learn healthier lessons from Jupiter. Carrie's city is scrupulously laid out, allowing for lush open green spaces where happy children frolic. Windfarms catch the breeze, and all of its service and sewage facilities are meted out to the satellite cities of Io, Europa, and Ganymede. Dense forests reach towards the sky, obscuring its view of Saturn. Perfectly partitioned subways race through the underground, reducing the street traffic to bikes. The quality of life allotted to the Sims on the bustling streets is so high that the tech industry has set up shop, raising the rents but sending the local economy skyrocketing.

It's almost unfair how much more quickly Carrie has taken to the game than the rest of Kirk Hall, but she shrugs when asked and points out that she is a few years older, was growing out SimFarms when they were learning how to touch-type. Even with the advantage, Jupiter is dazzling to behold.

Ben is confident of total victory in the end. He knows Pluto can't be counted out. He's proud of the city's vibrant rehabilitation from the verge of the epic disasters he can't help causing whenever his roommate is on the phone with his long-distance girlfriend.

The dorm knows the advantage they have in Carrie, who calls it "a matter of pride" to outstrip Davidson after they threw down the gauntlet, and a few rogue Davidson residents followed it up by moving Grant's bed with him asleep in it, and all of his possessions down to the pictures on the wall, into the common room in the middle of the night. Then it became a matter of honor. Kirk responded by choosing the largest possible Region size to play in, and the game was on.

Jupiter will help put them over the top, to be sure. Ben is confident of total victory in the end. He knows Pluto can't be counted out. He's proud of the city's vibrant rehabilitation from the verge of the epic disasters he can't help causing whenever his roommate is on the phone with his long-distance girlfriend.

It might be smaller than the rest, Ben thinks as he watches his city thrum and grow, but it will have just the right balance of life and industry, of give and take. Pluto's still a contender.

EA's totally collaborative (i.e., multiplayer), totally global SimCity is available now. Head here to get your specialized world started and filled with responsive Sims. You'll need them on board for those acts of God.

Kaila Hale-Stern is a writer who lives in your social media stream and works on saving science fiction's past for the future.