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Computer games-obsessed Japanese local authorities decide to model their home town on SimCity

The Japanese, of course, are widely known to be fanatical about computer games. But planning a real-world city based on a fictional place inside a computer game might be going a bit too far. 

Kobayashi City, in Miyazaki Prefecture, and computer games giant Electronic Arts have agreed the establishment of “Kobayashi City Department of SimCity BuildIt”.

The partners are calling it “a unique regional planning partnership project”, which may well be true as we don’t know of any other city in the world which is modelling itself on a computer game. 

SimCity BuildIt is a freely available smartphone game in which players take on the role of mayor and build their ideal city.

Kobayashi City – the other party in what is being called “dream collaboration”, or “crazy daydream” as others would have it – is known for its unique municipal PR efforts, including the N’damoshitan Kobayashi video promoting immigration which has been viewed 2.5 million times.

simcity kobayashi
An overview of the real city of Kobayashi, which is being remodelled on a fictional place inside a computer game called SimCity

The Department of SimCity BuildIt, a virtual organization with the Mayor’s official seal of approval, encourages younger generations to participate in city planning.

The department is staffed by Kobayashi City employees and volunteers from Miyazaki Kenritsu Kobayashishuho High School, where SimCity BuildIt is used as a visualization tool in an official learning program in which students imagine the ideal future for Kobayashi City.

These workshops began in late September, and each student created their ideal city over the course of approximately three months.

By encountering challenges and exploring ways to resolve them, the students learned about the enjoyment and significance of participating in city planning.

“I have tremendous expectations and a sense of joy for the business we are developing through this collaboration with global game creator Electronic Arts, operator of SimCity BuildIt,” said the Mayor of Kobayashi City, Yoshihisa Miyabara, who may or may not know that he is entering a make-believe world.

simcity mayor
Mayor of SimCity: Kobayashi mayor takes a break from playing computer games

Mayor Miyabara added: “The ideal city means something different to each person. Through these workshops, I hope younger generations will take a fresh look at the place where they live, become interested in city planning and develop into the human resources needed to create a new era in Kobayashi City.”

The establishment of the department is accompanied by the release of numerous key visuals, featured on posters, shirts, business cards, and mugs.

Kobayashi City has also released an official video on the initiative, set up a dedicated Department of SimCity BuildIt website, and drafted plans for additional activities, including a special movie to be presented by Mayor Miyabara on November 14, the “Nice City Day” (Yoi Toshi no Hi).