The Endless Civilization

Posted 9 years, 11 months ago at 23:38. 2 comments

It is hard to speak to a non-gamer about gaming without getting that look where they try to decipher if you are a total addictive and antisocial lunatic. Even in this “day and age” I still get suspicious looks when revealing my hobby to the regular mortals. Especially as an adult, don’t expect the topic to be welcomed say at a couples dinner, or the family dinner. If you are a gamer, you probably have an addictive personality and will ruin your life if you continue. Actually, I have even heard from gamers, especially when talking about MMORPGs, complaining about how addictive they can be. An old co-worker once described WoW to be evil and bad for your health. Most of the time, I don’t listen, if you can’t play in moderation you probably can’t drink, smoke, eat, work, watch TV in moderation either, we all have our weak spot. My Mr Hyde, for example, comes to life in the calm and lush, turn-based world of Civilization.


I can frankly admit that my gaming reached a whole new level one summer when I was working in an amusement park. I would quit work around midnight and head home to play until 5 in the morning, then sleep for about 7 hours, get up as early as possible to play a couple of hours before heading back to work. That was my routine for the whole summer and the game that got me hooked was Civilization III, a co-worker had lent me his game and it was like opening Pandora’s box. Still today, playing Civilization IV - Beyond the Sword, I find it to be the most addictive of all the games I have ever tried. “Just one more turn” - has been the constant mantra that has gotten me glued to the screen. But don’t get me wrong, if I recall correctly I almost never manage to finish a game, my addiction comes from the need to restart the game over and over again.

The most unsatisfying aspect of this is that at the end of the day, I have accomplished nothing, no great civilization has been formed, I will be left with this empty feeling of… of boredom. One of the  attractive things of playing computer games, in my opinion, is starting with nothing and building something grand. Weather it is a city, a civilization, a nation, a character, a family, a hospital… I can even appreciate time spent away from the computer where I could refine my grand plan to later set in motion when I get the time. My problem with Civlization is that I seem to never be entirely satisfied with the options I have chosen for the game, so I end up restarting new games all the time. It is very rarely I load an old game when I sit down to play, I usually already have a new idea of a great way in which I should build my new civilization. I’m not sure if it is the nature of the game, with all the different options, or my compulsive idea of wanting to create the optimal civilization, to make all the right decisions.

I usually spend a lot of time choosing a map, it should be challenging and with variation, and I have a special fondness towards maps that enable settling cities to block the enemies from passing into large masses of land.  Climate and sea level can also make a difference to the whole game, but at the end of the day the choice of leader and of civilization (”unrestricted leaders” enabled) is what makes the whole thing so tricky. I pick a leader, start the game and play for a while, but I often find that I have early on made some bad decisions. If it isn’t that the opposing leaders are overly aggressive when I haven’t prepared my defense very well, it’s that I prepare for conquering other civs so much that I don’t put any effort in culture. Sometimes I restart because I feel that I have a map that makes everything too easy on me, or the contrary, that I find my self trapped and without resources. It might be that I expand too fast and end up in serious financial problems, or that I expand too slow and the other civilizations are suddenly huge compared to mine. For whatever reason I always end up restarting the game!

I will not take a stand to weather computer games are addictive per se or weather it lies in the personality of the human in front of the keyboard. I think that soon enough people will accept our behavior just like they seem to accept that people are glued in front of the TV all evening. MMORPGs are not evil. So what if I get stuck in an endless loop of turn-based decisions and have to ask my husband to drag me away from the screen? At least I’ve quit smoking.