Why America’s Richest Cities Keep Getting Richer

They are not just the places where the most ambitious and talented people want to be—they are where such people feel they need to be.

In the fall of 2013, in a hotel suite overlooking New York City’s Times Square, the gaming giant Electronic Arts unveiled Cities of Tomorrow, the latest addition to its hugely successful SimCity franchise of computer games. Rather than racking up points the usual way, by killing bad guys, players of the SimCity series take charge of cities. In the role of mayor, they have the power to change things like tax rates, zoning ordinances, and land-use regulations, and to take action to boost economic development and create jobs. In the latest iteration of the game, by clicking on individual citizens they can see the effects they are having on people’s lives.

In Cities of Tomorrow’s grim future, there is a technologically advanced infrastructure that’s owned by an elite cadre known as ControlNet. The mayor can do things to limit their power, but only at the risk of stifling the city’s economic growth. Too little growth, and the city devolves into dystopian squalor; too much, and it becomes so unequal that its citizens can hardly afford to live in it. To succeed, players must find and navigate the precarious path between those two equally unpalatable urban alternatives.

Read the full article at The Atlantic.