Meta Learning while playing: Mini Motorways

Mini Motorways is a minimalistic video game that not only teaches you a basic understanding in how to manage traffic and therefore any kind of flow dynamics, but because of its focus on very few core mechanics, allows you to become aware of how you are learning its meta and improving while playing.

The basic goal is simple, you connect red houses with red buildings, yellow houses with yellow buildings, etc. The cars travelling between them share the same roads and they quickly become crowded. The more cars on the streets, the slower the traffic flows, and the sooner your game ends. Making the traffic more efficient becomes your goal and your approach to building streets will change quickly the more you learn.

At first, your layout changes, you try to isolate traffic directions, minimizing crossings and choke points at which the cars could get slowed down. The you separate residential areas from offices, and in the end, you start manipulating the game. You plan your layout in advance and force the AI to spawn houses and buildings in the areas you designated for them.

You learn the rules, then you master them, then you go meta and play beyond the rules, ultimately surpassing the game’s intention.

As an extremely minimalistic simulation, Mini Motorways gives you a basic understanding and appreciation for city planning, and lets you learn important skills that are valuable far beyond the realm of managing traffic, making you think outside of the box the creators of the game have put you in.

If you want something more than entertainment out of your video game, this is a prime example.

The beginning of the game and the flow problems are already obvious: All cars sharing the same road will clog it up quickly.
This is a lot better. Blue is isolated from the rest and residential areas separated from buildings.
A few colors later and it already becomes more demanding. All the colors are isolated and houses clumped together, but green and grey have to share the same road as there is no space to build around it.
Keeping colors separated to avoid congestion becomes a lot harder with the bottom left getting flooded with different colored houses. The few roundabouts luckily increase traffic flow.
The double-buildings in the top left are forcing me to connect different roads somehow, but because of my lack of highways, I have to build through other roads, increasing congestion and ultimately slowing down too many cars.
The red building in the middle don’t have enough red cars and there is no way for me to increase supply without connecting and therefore clogging up the rest of the streets. Game Over.
Peak Mini Motorways: Separating all colors and areas, manipulating spawns, and a bit of luck. At this point you understand the game and how to manipulate it. Take this skill and apply it somewhere else in your life; you won’t regret it.