Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
Complete with in-game music.
It's the oldest trick in the book. How do you make learning interesting? Turn it into a game.
Or at least something that looks like a game.
To spice up their interactive "2nd City Zoning" map of Chicago, Derek Eder, Juan-Pablo Velez and Aya O'Connor paid tribute to the SimCity franchise with some familiar color-coding. Blue for commercial, yellow for industrial, green for residential.
Then they got carried away, incorporating a few choice icons from SimCity 2000 as well as some of that legendary game music, which you can listen to while you browse the map.
Zoning is a little more complicated than the tri-color scheme implies, but by the time you get to the portion of the site that explains the difference between Manufacturing and Planned Manufacturing Districts, it's mission complete for the designers.
Then again, putting a SimCity stamp on a zoning map is like handing out free LSD at a Phish concert: it appeals most of all to the people who would have come anyway.
All images courtesy of 2nd City Zoning.