“We're gonna talk about urbanism and economics and social issues.”
October 1, 2018 5:42 PM   Subscribe

The Socialist YouTuber Using Cities: Skylines To Explain Politics [YouTube] “Roczniak’s main Skylines series is centered on a city named Franklin. The videos are unflinching looks at how American history and politics have created its cities. The series approaches cities from a historical angle, beginning with the time before colonization in North America and then slowly building period-to-period from there. There is no blank slate from which cities emerge, the videos argue, but instead they are founded through mass displacement and control. The early videos are dominated by discussions of trade and mercantile systems because Roczniak is plainly claiming that thinking the American city without taking those things seriously means that you’re not really addressing what cities are. Franklin exists as a kind of allegory for real cities, not being based on any one in particular, but the things that happen in and around the city of Franklin are all based on the history of city development.” [via: Kotaku]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin, Episode 1: Prehistory [YouTube]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin, Episode 2: New Norway [YouTube]
• Cities: Skylines | Franklin, Episode 3: Founding Franklin [YouTube]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin, Episode 4: Revolution [YouTube]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin Episode 5: Eds & Meds 1 [YouTube]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin Episode 6: Wooder [YouTube]
• Cities Skylines | Franklin Episode 7: Liberalism [YouTube]
• Cities: Skylines | Franklin, Episode 8: TRAINS! [YouTube]
• Cities: Skylines | Franklin, Episode 9: Organized Labor [YouTube]
posted by Fizz (30 comments total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
For those just venturing into the first video, the opening 3 minutes feel a bit manic, but be patient, he's going somewhere. And it gets interesting.
posted by Fizz at 5:47 PM on October 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Very interesting. Thanks.
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:49 PM on October 1, 2018

If he doesn't have "And now for your moment of Zinn" at the end of every episode I'll write a strongly worded letter to the editor.
posted by tclark at 6:06 PM on October 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

Only a couple in, but this is fascinating, and so far well done (given that he is summarizing a lot to keep it short).
posted by Wretch729 at 6:14 PM on October 1, 2018

I say fascinating because it preserves the rhythm and slightly hypnotic quality of this type of Let's Play video (accelerated building placement, followed by slow pans to show off the final product) while smoothly integrating the sociopolitical commentary.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:27 PM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I liked that the first one starts by discussing how the way Cities Skylines normally plays has nothing to do with actual city development.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:39 PM on October 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

What software is he using?
posted by njohnson23 at 6:51 PM on October 1, 2018

New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens back in the spotlight. The NUMTOT agenda will be fulfilled.

Also, I'm really keen to watch these later.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:04 PM on October 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

numtots has too many liberal shills and landlord apologists. public housing memes for socialist teens is where it's at these days.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 7:37 PM on October 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

Some of the stuff is from his own steam workshop items.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:00 PM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can I get a city builder game that lets me do mixed use zoning I beg you
posted by The Whelk at 8:47 PM on October 1, 2018 [20 favorites]

So this guy says he went to Cambodia with SDS. Not sure whether that's a very dry quip or he was over there with Hayden et al.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:54 PM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

back in the sim city 4 days I got pretty obsessive with simulating mixed use by meticulously intermixing zoning on every block. I figured everything was sufficiently mixed when the average commute length was so low that I could use only streets (no roads, avenues, highways, or whatever) and still not have any congestion.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:54 PM on October 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

So this guy says he went to Cambodia with SDS.

He also explains what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa in the Organized Labor episode, if that influences your assessment of his veracity.
posted by ckape at 12:08 AM on October 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

The projector slideshow bit in episode three is ingenious. I was literally putting my phone away and a second later he chided me to put my phone away. Big Mood, as the kids say.
posted by Mizu at 1:41 AM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't care and also abolish ICE
I LOLed.

The stuff about how a book was either on the recommended reading list, or the banned books list, depending on where you went to school was great too.

The commentary about the systemic oppression of the working class was just depressing. Astute, but depressing.
posted by krisjohn at 1:48 AM on October 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I dont generally support things on Patreon (except for Chapo) but this guy gets my monthly five bux. The videos are very good; an oasis in the desert of speedruns and “hey guys” -type of “content creation”.
posted by Soi-hah at 2:49 AM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can I get a city builder game that lets me do mixed use zoning I beg you

This is literally the only thing I want in a city builder. Ground floor retail with apartments above, please for the love of Jane Jacobs I beg you

Also, less of a focus on traffic management would be great.
posted by Automocar at 7:23 AM on October 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

City building game based in Jane jacobian princpals is my only wish- stuff like Emperor kinda got close but c’mon it’s been decades.

All I want is a city building game that isn’t just a car traffic management sim with some buildings stuck on. Let me propose actual civic policy!
posted by The Whelk at 7:28 AM on October 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Wait, what is that Wawa doing there
posted by os tuberoes at 8:27 AM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I accidentally watched the first video in one of his other series - it was on Parking. That video was also really interesting.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:45 PM on October 2, 2018

I may be slightly biased due to having a fondness for the Peer Gynt Suite, but the few of these I've watched so far are the best made-for-youtube videos I've ever seen on youtube.
posted by sfenders at 4:21 PM on October 2, 2018

Since this was posted, I've watched all of it and all of his other series as well as passing the link around to other people.

I think the most poignant moment for me was in the video on highways, where he's bulldozing a path and then starts giving bios of the people living in the houses being destroyed.

also abolish ICE
posted by frimble at 12:15 AM on October 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

This was a fantastic post. I loved these videos. Thank you!
posted by snwod at 4:40 AM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I thought the 'liberalism' one was pretty weak, and I'm so very tired of declaring every politician a 'neoliberal' (except Trump, who builds golf courses and hotels around the world but somehow is not a neoliberal) and that elections are nothing more than a vote about abortion rights and LGBTQ (or whatever the actual quote in the video was). It's like this week, every person who is a 'white male urbanist' is standing on each others' shoulders to declare themselves above 'politics' and this 'Supreme Court bread and circuses'. I found it pretty odd too for this guy, because in most of his other videos he's really careful to explain subtle differences, like for example the slave vs indentured servant and the endless facts about trains.

Overall though, I don't think he's quite where he wants to be (in the life path of his city Franklin) to actually talk about what he wants to talk about, as he went to painstaking work to build his Laconi villages and then wiped them off the map with little fanfare. Also I find the actual city building process to be very dizzying, but that could be just me.

So it's not quite there for me, but I will keep watching because I think it'll be more interesting once he's in the time period he wants to discuss. I actually found the parking video he made more enlightening than any of these, just because I think it's the kind of place he's heading to.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:46 AM on October 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm on #4 and just want to thank you for posting these, Fizz. I just bought Cities:Skylines because I haven't played a city building game in over a decade and started feeling the itch. Also my kid is a tiny urban planner (specializing in transit and bus systems but with a broad range of urbanist interests because he's 6 and lives in a city) and I think he will flip his wig over the very idea of a city sim.

And also abolish ICE.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:35 PM on October 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is fantastic.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:46 PM on October 7, 2018

Capitalist present, collective future: Labor in Night in the Woods and Tacoma (Major spoilers for Tacoma and minor spoilers for Night in the Woods follow in Jacob Geller’s look at the employee’s sometimes unenviable lot – both inside and outside of videogames.)
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, that Killdozer. I thought he meant the band.
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2018

The new DLC is all focused around industrial areas that are, in effect, municipally-run rather than the being spawned by invisible corporations that you interact with only through zoning and taxation. I.e., you get no tax revenue from the buildings, but in exchange you fully control the supply chain operations and your city receives income from raw and manufactured goods sold to internal commercial buildings or exported off the map. Seems germane, and I'll be very curious to see if there's a similar overhaul to commercial districts in the pipeline.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:42 PM on October 17, 2018

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