Not Just Child’s Play

All of the professors interviewed agreed that the Civ3 gods created a universe in which war goes a long way. The gods, of course, are the game designers who determine the algorithms by which history, in the game, will progress. So in order for the game to accurately portray the inputs that spit out world history, the game designers had “better create a damn complex algorithm,” says Alexander Galloway, an assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University who used Civ3 in a media studies graduate seminar. “The game doesn’t progress the same way [as human history],” Galloway says, noting that a player controlling Russia would essentially have to pick one form of government and stick with it. “I’m sure there are lower level history textbooks that are reductive too.” —Not Just Child’s Play (Inside Higher Ed)

While it’s certainly true that all simulations are reductive, it’s not true that a player in Civ3 would have to stick to one form of government. Players start out with “Despotism,” but after they have researched such things as “Literacy” and “Code of Laws,” they have the option to research — and switch to — more advanced forms of government like “Republic,” “Monarchy,” “Democracy” and “Communism.” Each form of government comes with benefits and drawbacks, and just because you’re playing Russia doesn’t mean you have to move from Monarchy to Communism when the game reaches the 20th century. Each civilization starts out with a slightly different set of resources, and each civilization gets a specific military unit that is superior to the similar class units in other nations.

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