I am a data fanatic; I love data! I love data in games even more. Even thought most games are basically simulations, not many surface the data to the end user in a way that is meaningful and beautiful! There are a few exceptions of course, and my favorite is Sim City circa 2013.
Intersection of art, visualization, and mechanics
What the Sim City team did to surface the data layers was a prime example of an intersection of art, data visualization, and of course, meaningful game-play mechanics.
Heatmaps (geographical range of attribute influence)
Sim city used surface heat-maps to show influence and prevalence of the particular attribute you were looking at (water level, crime, fire risk, etc…)
Building Color Gradients (strength of attribute influence)
Buildings were colored from light to dark colors, or even from one color to another, to represent the prevalence of a particular attribute (happiness, education, etc..).
Kinship’s take on data-visualization
Standing on the shoulders of giants and borrowing from this intuitive and gorgeous implementation, we’ve implemented a very similar data-layer mode in Kinship. I hope you’re excited to give our implementation a go in game, and find it incredibly useful in planning and managing your city!
Oh, and here’s another excellent data layer example from “Oxygen Not Included”