Thursday, February 23, 2006

Civil Unrest In Babylonia Today

Civilization isn't your ordinary computer game. It is not a game based upon gore, or sex, but it does involve destruction, and creation - on a global scale. It's design has lessons to teach. I'll share some of those lessons, despite their non-politically correct nature, as they sadly seem to reflect the world in which we live. Although hopefully not the world we must settle for.


In Civilization human players are presented with the opportunity to build their own civilizations from scratch. Players can spend enormous amounts of time, and intellectual energy making a never ending number of decisions. Decisions as basic as installing a sewage system in a city, or starting a secret program to develop the Atomic Bomb.


AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and at the heart of Civilization is it's AI. AI is the program component within Civilization which assumes the role of all other Civilizations which the human decides to play against. Civilization can be played via the Internet against other human players as well.

AI, despite it controversial nature (some insist that it cheats), does a remarkable job.

War! What Is It Good For?

The AI also consistently pressures you to become an interventionist. No matter how much you'd rather be a peace loving hippy, start a peace, and love commune you'll find yourself embroiled in the darker side of human nature.

Pacifist will lose immediately. Even those players fortunate enough to develop their civilization on an island continent, far from other civilizations, will eventually through the passing of time, and the advancement of technology, end up confronting other civilizations - not all of them willing, or able to make compromises.

In the end war is the means of grabbing up the space, and natural resources any civilization needs to grow powerful. Eventually, as trade develops resources can be obtained in this manner, but trade doesn't seem to solve all problems in a world filled with civilizations hell bent on territorial acquistion.

Those Unprepared Get Wiped Out

No matter how much one may want to develop economically, scientifically, and socially unless one has a kick ass military of a large enough size your civilization is doomed.

Compromising Ethics Advantageous

My first reaction to another civilization's attempt to blackmail me into paying homage was an ideologically based refusal, but as I became a better player I recognized that paying tribute to other civilizations is a nifty way to avoid conflict, and to buy "friends" who otherwise would attack my civilization.

There were always aggressor civilizations hell bent on world domination, and eventually no amount of tribute would work, and so an attack was inevitable.

However, waiting for such an attack was rarely fun, or in one's own civilization's best interest. In fact by quietly waiting your turn you just allow your opponent to become stronger.

Bad Alliances & Unprovoked Wars Vital

Alliances always lead to war there really is no other way of looking at it, but without them your civilization may never survive for long.

Starting wars was always a messy thing, but inevitable even against other civilizations that have caused you no harm. In some cases you simply can't risk allowing another civilization's territory, and resources to fall into the hands of another aggressor civilization. In the end stabbing your best friend in the back becomes inevitable.

Good Guy Wears Black Hat

Total war is messy. Vast cities which took hundreds, even thousands of years get razed in wars. Economic development is wiped out, and take decades to rebuild.

Genocide A Temptation

Once your weapons are sufficiently advanced using airpower, or nuclear weapons to destroy whole cities becomes tempting, but it has drawbacks. Drawbacks which only democratic civilizations, and those that care about the environment consider. Dictatorships possessing such weapons of mass destruction use them without much consideration.

Differences Lead To Conflict & Nothing More

Religion, Racism, Nationalism, Heredity, Imperialism, Idealism, Paranoia, and Greed were motivating factors within the AI justifying war, and conflict. War was never ending no matter at what level of technological development even when prosperity was achieved for all civilizations. With weapons of greater killing capacity in a world of competing Civilizations only greater levels of misery, and bloodshed resulted.

There Can Be Only One (New World Order)

In the end it is possible to take over the planet through military means, and create one world order in which peace, and prosperity are finally achieved.

Game Evolution

The game's evolution continues. FireAxis is currently selling Civilization 4, and with each version it becomes more realistic, more complex, and more troubling.


Dave said...

You know, there is one little rule in Civ that I think about a lot: Once one civilization gains the knowledge needed to build a nuclear bomb, all the other civilizations automatically get that knowledge too.

I think about this because that's what's happening (more slowly) in the real world. Trying to stop Iran or North Korea or any nation bent on getting the bomb is futile in the long run. The genie is out of the bottle.

The Eleventh Hour

AmericanPatriotLegion said...

I am about to go get Civ 3 because of this post. You have peaked my interest and I am curiose to see how close to humanity this game really is.

email jp






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