Virtual cities have some unique urbanistic traits. They are, to begin with, either completely imaginary creations, or playful abstractions of existing and historical urban spaces, and were thus never meant to be inhabited by actual people with real, physical needs.
We, their planners and designers, do not have to care about existing zoning regulations, traffic loads, pedestrian networks, infrastructure or building costs. We do not have to convince any mayor, corporation or politician about the feasibility and importance of our designs.
What we must do instead is trick players into – even momentarily – believing that their experience could be real. We have to construct believable civic illusions serving as the setting for often extravagant stories in fantastical worlds, and to make sure every aspect of their creation supports and enhances the way each game plays. It is the mechanics of play that lie in the digital heart of all video-game cities.