The Joy of Playing God

It starts with a settler and a warrior; a little family sat in the wilderness of an unknown land. Your settler can form a community anywhere but you pick a space by a river with cattle nearby. The warrior explores the unknown lands, discovering natural wonders, barbarians and, eventually, other nations.

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Your community grows and new settlers strike out to form new towns by valuable resources. You build a small army to defend your borders from raiders while your workers connect the valuable resources around your nation. New technologies are discovered allowing you to trade with others, build great wonders and support your expanding civilisation. Religions are founded, benefiting those who follow it while angering those with differing beliefs.

Eventually your borders meet those of other nations and the competition for space and resources naturally leads to conflict. Wars devastate the land and cities are pillaged. Wonders of the world are lost for good.

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Centuries pass and those nations that emerge victorious from the early wars often emerge as powerful juggernauts of production and military might. But for those nations that kept away from conflict their success can be measured by their technological prowess or the development of the arts. They now find their time to strike out at the lumbering behemoths that surround their national borders. Their riflemen gunning down helpless regiments of archers and swordsmen.

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As the clock ticks towards the present day, world ideologies form that go on to shape international issues. World congresses and the UN try and police some of the negatives of scientific and social development but the issues get bogged down in petty squabbling more often than not.


Your capital city now forms a bloated mass of production, wealth and human resource. From the top down, the unknown world that first surrounded your few citizens now seems coldly familiar. Mountain ranges that saw battles in ancient times are now monuments to the classic conflicts. The oceans are criss-crossed with trade lanes and dotted with oil derricks and fishing boats. Missiles are aimed at other nations and planes are put on standby for the possibility of future conflict. Social uprisings occur across the world as culture and propaganda shape public sentiment in those nations which are dissatisfied.

In Civilisation 5 you can continue to play things out until you are the victor. Sadly I’ve actually been describing parts of human history in the vaguest of forms and not some typical play through of a computer game. In Civilisation 5 I get to look down on the world and tinker and play as I see fit – it’s great fun. But in the real world, I sadly have to look upwards and wonder if the politicians of the world are staring at me through a satellite. Not that I matter of course, but I live in Britain’s primary naval base which is probably important to someone.

(Photo credit should read RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/AFP/Getty Images)

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…


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