Sid Meier's Civilization

Jeff Pack, Brown University '99 (English 112, 1996)

Sid Meier could easily be considered the Spielberg of computer gaming; almost every game he's created has been a gem. He's got at least two games - Railroad Tycoon and Civilization - in Computer Gaming World's Hall of Fame.

Civilization is a different sort of game than most of my favorites: there is no story to speak of. It is, in essence, an extraordinarily complex (yet not confusing) game of Risk played out from the dawn of civilization to the space age. It has more units and formulas than any board-based game could possibly keep track of, but - unlike board games - they are hidden from the player. When a unit of knights is attacked by a barbarian horde, or a nuclear missile is fired at a city, the player isn't shown anything but the attack and its outcome (though for die-hard number-crunchers Meier explains in the manual the algorithms used to determine this outcome). It's not the most in-depth of simulations (it doesn't even come close to the hypothetical examples put forth by Baudrillard or Borges), but it works.

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