SimCity's homeless people are represented as yellow, two-dimensional, ungendered figures with bags in tow. Their presence makes SimCity residents unhappy, and reduces land value. Like many other players, Bittanti discovered the online discussions when he was searching for a way to deal with them.
At first, players wondered if they were having so much problems with the homeless in their cities because of a bug in the game. Like many of 2014's big-budget games that launched in broken or barely-functional states, SimCity originally would only work if players connected to EA's servers, which repeatedly crashed under the load of players. It seemed possible that the homeless problem in SimCity was simply a mistake.
"Has anyone figured out a easy way to handle the homeless ruining those beautiful parks you spend so much money on?" asks one player on EA' site. "Create jobs, either through zoning or upgrading road density near industry, that helped me a lot," another player suggests.
Amazing. Professor Matteo Bittanti has collected online discussions about how to eradicate homelessness in 2013 SimCity in a two volume book called How to get rid of homeless. Volume 1 costs $150, Volume 2 $70.
Since Simcity is a game simulation of urban planning, it's impossible not to regard it as a standard bearer for the arrogance of Silicon Valley technological solutionism and difficult not to invoke Baudrillard. Given the income inequality of the Bay Area and its own notable homelessness problems, this is the most Silicon Valley-ish story I've read in weeks, I'm surprised I didn't read it in Valleywag or Gawker.