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The Fascism Simulator—CityVille Review

It was Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari who once wrote: “Groups and individuals are filled with micro-fascisms just waiting to crystallize,” and nothing is better proof of this than the extraordinary popularity of CityVille, wherein any individual with a Facebook account may become a tyrannical overlord of a capitalist utopia strangely lacking in any human demand and is solely composed of the values of the free market. It is the circulation of money—coins, cash, and commodities—that bring about the shape of your city; it is this convenient sort of literal Marxianism (obviously, not Marxism; but rather, following the organization of base/superstructure), along with economic (and therefore cultural) fascism that lets the single mom, bored dad at work, student after homework, or existentially impotent human being exercise a full-blast crystallization of the variety exposed by D&G.

The mechanics are not really fun; they are addicting. When you are rewarded for clicking things in a particular order, then there really is nothing stopping you from feeling that gratuitous greatness again, once every few hours; and when you do decide to stop, you cannot because by this time you have had a system going and there is no way to short circuit this system into destruction. The train is arriving in two hours, the plants need harvesting in six, and the house’s rent is due in eight. Before long you’re catching yourself arranging things so that they look nice, completely unaware of the fact that it doesn’t matter where you place the buildings. What matters is that you get money. If something is not giving up money, you destroy it. Though, of course, you do not build anything in CityVille if it does not have a corresponding monetary reward, no matter how deferred; that simply does not make sense.

And where exactly does the game end? What are the win conditions? The ultimate surprise here of course is not that there is no winning; rather, every time you press a building and it leaks money like a fiscal anus it is winning—clicking is the win condition. If anything means anything in capitalist society it is winning, because this gives you assurance that maybe you are not the mediocre cog in the machine that you are. So if clicking is all it takes to bolster an ego, why not? It’s small, and the work is tedious; but it is rewarding. It rewards a lot, and for almost nothing at all.

You plant crops, you harvest them to make goods, you use these goods to supply stores, and you get the profit. You build houses from the surplus and you collect the rent. You may also sell the surplus goods to neighbors. You have limited energy to do all this, so you either have to stop playing or pay actual money, such that the fascists on the other end of the tube can get to manage their own estates.

At one point you may even want to spam your friends in the guise of giving them things—so it is also a Trojan war simulator, within which Sparta is everywhere; upon invasion, it begins transforming everyone else into sad, capitalist fascists of their own virtual Troy, a utopia, where coins are all you need, along with a working forefinger.

Zero out of ten.

CityVille (Web). Developed by Zynga. US Release, Dec 2 2010. Continuous playthrough for five days through mother’s account in attempt to find out what all the fuss is about. Generally moderate income. Now a certified city. Significant agricultural and commercial production. Citizens totally subservient, regardless of constant infastructure modifications and economic exploitation.


Zero out of ten FTW!

Anonymous said...

funny but it seems you spent half an hour writing this vitriol seething with hatred over an innocent little game someone made on actionscript, you need to make it more obvious you don't take yourself too seriously or people will misunderstand and think you're a sad little man

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