Civilization IV: Not RealisticPosted on October 28th, 2005 1 comment
But as much as I love Civilization, I can’t embrace many of the historical assumptions that the designers coded into the game. A Whiggish progressivism permeates the game’s outlook; civilizations invariably grow and flourish unless outside forces stunt or destroy them. Governments and religions have only utilitarian value; freedom and decency are not uniquely useful in Civilization IV. The superiority of the modern to the medieval is everywhere assumed, and the atomization and ennui of contemporary life is thoroughly ignored. To be sure, the game takes cognizance of unhappy citizens and social unrest, but civil wars, religious schisms, and collapses into barbarism simply don’t happen in Civilization IV. These absences make for a smoother and more entertaining game, but not a more realistic one. . . .
In the great Civilization IV game that is the modern world, the West is in no danger of losing to an outside civilization. Osama bin Laden will not beat us to Alpha Centauri. China will not acquire cultural hegemony over the world with its thrilling movies and catchy pop tunes. Africa will not send tank columns to capture our capital cities. But the West may lose to its own self-disgust. Our appetite for wealth outpaces our willingness to produce it; our sense of justice grows ever more rarefied even as our capacity for self-discipline declines; and our achievements cannot keep pace with the speed with which we forget our own history.
A fair indictment, to be sure.
I just want to say that it is precisely these reasons that caused me to develop a certain distaste for the Civilisation franchise (although I respect it as a commercial product). I’ve never played it because I am personally horrified by the arrogance of its paradigm. Democratic Atheism is essentially extolled as the One True Way, every other approach is seen as a step towards the glory of the modern world. I personally find that morally offensive, although I have no problem with other people playing the game – each to their own.