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No one expects Stalins Mongol raiders… February 21, 2012

Posted by sandyclaus in Uncategorized.
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Lately, I’ve been thinking about history and games, especially the relationships between technology and history. One of the classic games to take on this topic is is Sid Meier’s Civilization. I had already wasted a chunk of my youth playing the Avalon Hill game of the same name and theme by the time “Civ” came out on the computer. Apparently the Avalon Hill game was very influential with both the late Danielle Bunten Berry (MULE) and Don Daglow (Neverwinter Nights) credited with starting their own versions.

This is the genre of computer game I miss most, and similar games used to abound. One early quirk of Civ I found charming where the “leaders” of factions. I used to love playing Boudica and rolling down on all opposed witha  little Celtic whoop-ass. early in the game, she looked suitably period. Later, she seemed fashionable retro in her mode of dress. Not so the characters of the 19th and 20th centuries.

There is nothing quite like facing off agains Stalin and his mongol hoards or Abraham Lincoln’s deadly Centurions. Behavior can be quirky to the extreme. Ghandi has a “thing” for nuclear weaponry. Ah well, there is always the next life…

I’m looking at older games right now trying to identify which ones have tech trees that make interesting historical observations. The choice of technologies represent an active choice by the designer and reflect some apocryphal cultural assumptions about how technology works. One fact that comes through loud and clear though, technological superiority is usually followed by victory and domination.

Such an end state precludes other strategies that may have worked historically. Technology suppression in the form of the Imperial Chinese and technology assimilation, like post-war Japan are harder to pull off. Generally, the plan is to reorganize your entire culture like the Manhattan Project and make for Alpha Centauri.

I’m thinking about this and looking for more exploration and colonization games. If you have ideas, or war stories, let me know.

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