In this satirical city builder, your goal is to convert walkable cities into parking lots and use propaganda to convince everyone it's what they want

A big parking lot seen in isometric view
(Image credit: Hilkojj Interactive)

Traffic is a huge component of just about every city builder. Heck, even in medieval city builders you need a good road system so your citizens can quickly and efficiently get around, even if they're leading oxen instead of driving cars. But in Car Park Capital, you've got more to think about than just the living, breathing human beings who live in your city—you've also got to keep the eternally ravenous automotive industry happy. That means building parking lots. Lots and lots of lots.

How do you convince people that having more roads, cars, and parking lots in their city is in their best interests? With in-game propaganda, of course, like massive signs declaring YOU ❤️CARS. That'll help them cope when you bulldoze their home and replace it with a massive parking lot. You're just teaching them, as the Steam page says, "the freedom of car dependency."

In fact, real pro-car propaganda was one of the inspirations for Car Park Capital. I spoke to the game's creator, Hilko Janssen, who said via Reddit chat that along with isometric sim games like RollerCoaster Tycoon, his game was influenced by a video called "Give Yourself the Green Light," a pro-car propaganda film created by General Motors in 1954. You can see it here on YouTube, where it speaks in almost reverent tones about lane after lane of gleaming highways stretching as far as the eye can see—a beautiful future as long as you're a car company.

In reality, the types of massive road projects proposed in that video eradicated entire neighborhoods and displaced thousands of residents (almost always people of color) while doing nothing to actually solve traffic problems. Traffic usually got worse since these major roadways made cities less walkable and thus required more cars: GM's whole strategy.

"Before seeing that video I was already building a parking garage simulator," Janssen said. "After watching 'Give Yourself the Green Light,' however, I realized the game could also take a more satirical turn since the reality in some places is actually quite bizarre."

Referencing a photo of Houston from the 1970s that was dominated by parking lots, Janssen said "I still want to recreate that picture in my game, and have the people pay for a taxi to go from their parking space to their actual destination."

Car Park Capital - YouTube Car Park Capital - YouTube
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The people of your city won't just roll over and take it, though. "I want citizens to become angry after the player destroys their homes for more parking space," Janssen said. "They will attack and encamp in the parking garages, drive-through restaurants and drive-in cinemas that the player originally built to keep the people satisfied. It will be a constant battle between keeping the automotive industry *and* the people satisfied."

Janssen is from the Netherlands, "where there are literally more bicycles than people," he said. "I think most people still own a car, but we do not have car-centered cities. In the '60s and '70s we tried making our cities car-centered just like the US: plans were made for destroying neighborhoods and filling canals with concrete, just to make room for more traffic congestion. Luckily, we changed our minds and made our cities livable again after that."

Janssen said there's no release date or window for Car Park Capital yet, but expects to open up playtesting "in the near future" to start gathering feedback. You can check out the game on Steam in the meantime. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.