Video Games


An indie video game shows the follies of central planning


Dorfromantik is an indie video game from Germany. (The name translates to "Village Romanticization.") The player is fed a randomly generated pile of hexagon tiles, each representing a different physical feature: a town, a forest, a field, a river, a railroad. The challenge is to place them, one by one, onto the playing field, lining up matching features so that a handful of trees becomes a forest, a couple of houses become a village, and so on. Gradually, the player builds a fiefdom.

You start with a limited number of tiles, earning more of them—and increasing your score—by carefully completing challenges to create lengthy rivers and large, connected tracts of forests and towns. Over time, the randomness of the tiles you receive makes it increasingly hard to place them in an ideal matching pattern. Ultimately, no matter how devoted you are to centrally planning your bucolic village, there are just too many variables. You will be unable to make that perfect match, and your tiles will run out. There just might be a lesson there.