Mini Metro Image: Dino Polo Club

If there was ever a way to make your city transit planners seem like a superheroes, this is it.

Mini Metro is an addictive new game that lets users design the subway layout for a rapidly expanding city. Labelled a “strategy simulation game,” players draw lines between stations and trains begin running. Users must keep subway lines efficient by redrawing them when new stations open all while balancing limited resources and growing commuter demand. Each station can only hold a limited number of waiting travelers.

It may sound stressful and a little wonky, but the game is a hit. Early iterations of the game have been available since fall 2013, but it wasn’t until November 2015 that the game was officially released for desktop. It will also be playable as a mobile app in January. Players have already uploaded subway systems that they’ve designed within the game to YouTube, with some racking up views in the hundreds of thousands:

Mini Metro received Honorable Mentions for Excellence in Design and Excellence in Visual Art at IGF 2015, a conference dedicated to public policy issues related to the internet.

Peter Curry, co-founder of game developer Dinosaur Polo Club, said the idea of making city transportation planning into a game was an obvious one for its simplicity. “It’s important to me that when someone decides to play Mini Metro, their motivations are unambiguous,” he said. “I don’t want to encourage people to play just to chase an achievement, or to complete a checklist. I want people to play simply because they want to build a subway.”

And who knows? Perhaps the game can get people thinking about issues surrounding population density, sprawl, and infrastructure. “Could we affect even a tiny part of social change?” said Curry. “I know this sounds ridiculous, but who knows… maybe Mini Metro could take a few cars off the road.”

He cites the “harm of SimCity’s autocentric transportation model” when it comes to planning and hopes Mini Metro can be a step in the right direction to encourage smarter thinking about public transit.

H/T: 6 Sq Ft

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