Confirmed sighting: I'm in issue #215 of Edge, which has just come out, taking about SimCity 4, urbanism, Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. It's a long piece that takes some of the ideas expressed in this rambling blog post from a while back and expresses them rather more cogently. I express some of the pleasure that comes from playing a game badly, deliberately creating problems for oneself, so there's something to fix down the line.
An alternative approach is something like this: Magnasanti, a dystopian megalopolis created by exploiting the game mechanics of the earlier SC3000 to their maximum. (I'm grateful to Jim Rossignol, who first showed me the video.) There's an interesting interview with Magnasanti's creator here.