Think you can develop a system that transports 2,000 passengers in St Petersburg over 73 days? It took some training, but last night I was immensely pleased with myself for breaking the 2,000 passenger mark for the metro system I’d built for the city. The occasion was (yet another) evening spent playing Mini Metro, a seriously addictive strategy simulation game where you design a subway system to transport the growing population of a global city.
There’s a simple beauty to the game: all you need to do is connect stations to enable passengers to travel from where they are to where they need to be, from triangle to square, circle to teardrop. It’s straightforward premise, but soon gets complicated: as passenger numbers rise, you run out of tunnels and bridges to cross rivers, you don’t have enough lines and carriages, and that pesky new hospital decided to open up right at the outskirts of your system making transportation there a total hassle. In the end, a station overcrowds and you die. Game over. But thankfully, you can start again. And trust me, you will.
It’s been years since I’ve played anything but a bubble bursting game on my phone, so I’m by no means a regular video gamer and do not aspire to be one. My love affair (ok, fine, addiction) with Mini Metro arises from that it focuses on a topic I’m interested in – public urban transport – and thereby allows me to play the game whilst pretending I’m doing it for ‘educational purposes’. In short, it’s the perfect game for an urbanist in denial about the joy they experience playing video games.
The game is still undergoing development, but available for purchase in Early Access for US$6.99. For the sake of my general productivity, I hope the developers never come out with a mobile version.