One of the strangest parts about lockdown has been the lack of interaction with your town or neighbourhood. Regardless of whether you live in Manhattan or rural Ohio, when you’re really only staying in, our homes turn into our entire world. Maybe you’ve even started to daydream about creating your ideal town, with public toilets galore and water fountains with both sparkling and still options. (Just me?) Either way, you may be interested in learning about a new “game” (in quotes because the designer doesn’t consider it a game, but more on that later) called “Townscaper” that allows you to live out your city planning dreams, without all the red tape.
How to play Townscaper
According to Bloomberg CityLab, the creator of Townscaper made it a point to refer to it as a “toy” rather than a “game,” because “it has no goal apart from the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction you get from seeing a pretty town rising from the sea as you click.” Point taken.
Anyway, the premise of Townscaper is that you can build your own empty town that looks like something straight out of Scandinavia or a children’s book (or a Scandinavian children’s book). Left clicking builds something; right clicking destroys it. That’s basically it.
Here’s how Marie Patino at CityLab describes it:
“The colourful buildings can be stacked or juxtaposed. The first click on the water canvas builds a foundation. Clicking on the same spot a second time builds a house, and a third and fourth time makes the building rise. The algorithms of the game handle the details: They add terraces, arches, bridges, gardens when spaces are enclosed, ladders to go down to the water and clotheslines between buildings.”
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There’s no distracting music — just little plops when you decide to get rid of part of your town and it falls into the virtual ocean. There’s also no objective or competitive element: there are no friends to meet or turnips to purchase. It’s basically a digital mindfulness exercise providing a small escape from our current reality.
Townscaper costs $8 to download, and is available here.