Tom Chick on Sim City Societies and Conditioning

Some buildings apply conditioning, which pushes a citizen’s happiness level toward the middle. If your city is miserable, conditioning can be an effective way to keep everyone from rioting. It will tamp down the upper level of happiness as well. But if you’re not making a play for ecstasy, who cares? Conditioning is a mood stabilizer to even out the extremes, making sad sims happier and happy sims sadder. Urban prozac.

And if your city is primarily corporate, relying on office buildings for income, conditioning is a great way to optimize your economy by ensuring that office workers will show up merely content, not sad, not angry, and certainly not happy, elated, or ecstatic. Content. Which credits them towards those periodic cash bonuses that make office buildings so profitable.

So in the fiction of SimCity Societies, what makes for a city with the best office workers? How does conditioning happen? Incarceration is one way. When a sim is thrown in jail, it’s usually because his happiness level was so low that he was rioting. Conditioning is applied to get him back to normalcy. But the more practical way to apply conditioning is with really fun buildings like re-education centers, behavioral science labs, state housing projects, and the conditioning theater (which also saps money from visiting tourists!). Nerve stapling won’t be invented for another century or so, and it will be light years away.

– “SimCity Societies: joy is the enemy of clerical work

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