Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Civ II shows us the future

  Thanks to Ahab Pope for the spot on this one.

Do we live in a computer-generated simulation?  If we do, the overlords of the game might call it “Civilization.”

As many are aware, the Civilization series of turn-based strategy games by Sid Meier, challenges the player to construct an entire human society based upon actual ones from history.  Loosely based, I should say.  There’s just something wrong about seeing Gandhi shake his fist at you and demand tribute.  Anyway, you guide your civilization as it develops different technologies, new religious points of view, experiments with different forms of government, and of course, go to war with other nations.  Such a task of global expansion and development allow for longer hours of game play.  Don’t I know it.

A man known by the Reddit user ID of Lycerius has probably topped all of us, though.  He has been playing the same game of Civ II for ten years.  In game time, the year is now 3991.  So the online discussion is “if Civ is semi-educational in regard to learning human history, what does it have to say about the future?”

Nothing good, it would seem.  In this future, the world is a “hellish nightmare full of suffering and devastation.”  There have been dozens of nuclear wars, leaving entire expanses of the world uninhabitable due to radiation, leaving available farmland in low amounts.  Complicating matters, the polar ice caps have melted and coastal flooding has occurred, driving populations into the mountains.  About 90% of the world’s population is dead.  Those who survive find themselves in a world of famine and ongoing war.

Who is fighting?  The last three superpowers.  Those being the United States, the Celts, and New Vikingland.  Okay, the “superpowers” aren’t overly realistic but that’s not the point.  Lycerius has been actively trying to end this war and bring peace to the world. As he says:

"My goal for the next few years is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I'm not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I'm listening."

More interesting still is how this game of Civ II has taken on an identity of its own on Reddit.  Called The Eternal War, the game has even inspired writers and artists to base fiction in this future dystopia.  There are speculative radio broadcasts and propaganda posters.  It really does fascinate me how a “pocket universe” has developed from this singular game, almost taking on a life of its own.

As a writer, I'd love to play in that sandbox.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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