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5 Reasons Why You Should Play Sid Meier's "Civilization"

Geek, gamer, writer, graphic artist. Ced's favorite shows and adventures are those that allow him to enjoy the world from his bedroom.

5 reasons why Sid Meier’s Civilization is worth playing.

5 reasons why Sid Meier’s Civilization is worth playing.

Civilization players have obsessed over these three words since the launch of the series in 1991.

Consistently praised as one of the most groundbreaking video games series ever, Sid Meier’s Civilization offers the perfect blend of relaxation and thrill, learning and entertainment, for any player willing to invest a few (hundred) hours in it.

And if you have yet to start, here are 5 great reasons why you too should be playing Civilization. The same reasons will ensure you quickly succumb to that irresistible craving for “one more turn” as well.

As for younger players i.e. kids, a few hundred “turns” could also be one of the most educational experiences they can benefit from. Parents: you can be assured that any child who plays the Civ games will soon be a mini-expert with world history and culture.

Screenshot of Civilization gameplay from Sid Meier's Civilization VI.

Screenshot of Civilization gameplay from Sid Meier's Civilization VI.

1. An Empire-Building Experience That Doesn’t Stress

Empire-building games are often addictive and enjoyable. However, some gamers are excluded from this joy because they lack lightning-fast reflexes.

By this, I’m referring to Real-Time Strategic (RTS) titles that require you to keyboard mash with super nimble fingers. Fail to do so, and your empire wouldn’t even make it beyond the prehistorical era.

Such reflexes are unnecessary in Sid Meier’s Civilization, though, thanks to the series being turn-based. You have all the time in the world to contemplate, fiddle, and research, before committing any decision. You can even have a coffee and bun, and another coffee, before executing your next killer move; there is never any time constraint.

Irrelevant as this might sound, I think it is a huge attraction for gamers who wish to compete on tactics and not how fast one can type or mouse-click. To put it in another way, If you’re the sort who enjoys an accumulative competition of wit and strategy, similar to a game of chess, you will love this gameplay system. This alone might be enough reason for you to start playing the series.

Civilization technological trees encourage players of all ages to research and learn.

Civilization technological trees encourage players of all ages to research and learn.

2. Civilization Is a Cultural and Historical Learning Experience, Especially for Kids

The short of it, each episode in this award-winning series is a global learning experience in two ways.

You are introduced to a myriad of cultures and historical characters from around the globe. At the same time, you also get to enjoy the tidbits of information regarding science, arts, history, and culture.

To make the whole learning experience “fun,” newer Civilization titles feature voiceovers by renowned personalities. In the fourth episode, Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, reads a representative quote each time your civilization gains an upgrade. In Civilization V, this was done by Morgan Sheppard. In Civilization VI, Sean Bean takes over.

Needless to say, the games contain extensive glossaries too. Given the turn-based nature of gameplay, you can easily surf over to read up what piques your interest, then return to your empire building.

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In fact, the potential of the series to educate is so strong, academic institutions have used Civilization as teaching tools in the classroom. While there is debate over the efficacy of these implementations, I personally believe playing the series at least encourages students to research different topics.

In my case, the technology trees in the end game stages piqued my interest in modern production methods, to the extent I started reading scientific journals regularly. To further share, this was something I have never done throughout my actual academic life.

Thanks to a few late-night world battles though, I finally became a more knowledgeable person.

3. Sid Meier's Civilization is Renowned for Epic Music

Civilization is famous for its soundtrack, but not in the same way as games like The Legend of Zelda or Castlevania.

While it does have beloved original compositions, such as the Grammy award-winning opening theme Baba Yetu from Civilization IV, the series is more famous for its use of classical and ethnic music. All newer episodes, to a great extent, could all be considered as extensive samplers of world music.

To give some examples, in Civilization IV, classical masterpieces by Mozart, Brahms, and Dvořák accompanied the Renaissance and Industrial Age segments of the game. A perfect introduction to the European musical styles of those eras.

In Civilization V, a more ethnic approach was adopted. The leader of Brazil, Pedro II, had a soundtrack drawn from the Bossa Nova standard, Chega de Saudade. The Empress Supreme of China, Wu Zetian, was accompanied by the classical Chinese composition, “Gao Shan Liu Shui.”

To put it in another way, all newer Civilization games are world music festivals. For students of music, especially younger ones, it’s no doubt an immersive learning experience too.

Feel Like An Explorer

Try this. Find a recording of Dvořák’s Brave New World, Second movement, and listen to it with headphones. While doing so, imagine yourself before an expansive frontier, one full of danger and promise. The shivers you’d likely experience are exactly the same as what you’d enjoy when playing and listening to the Civilization games.

The “Gathering Storm” expansion included natural disasters as a game mechanic. While frustrating, no simulation of empire management is fully realistic without brushes with nature’s worst.

The “Gathering Storm” expansion included natural disasters as a game mechanic. While frustrating, no simulation of empire management is fully realistic without brushes with nature’s worst.

4. Civilization Gives You a Taste of Real-World Grim Realities

This will sound unattractive to some gamers. After all, don’t we play video games to escape the woes of the world?

That said, the right mix of reality and fantasy can make a gaming experience far more memorable. In the case of Sid Meier's Civilization, I’d say the developers mostly achieved the elusive balance throughout the series. Reality is never too far away, but neither does it depress. At least, never too badly.

To go into specifics, such realities are presented in the games as “unhappiness” and diplomacy challenges. In the case of the former, cities suffer from ever-increasing unhappiness as they grow in size. The end-stage of each game is therefore always a challenge of maintaining a large population for economics and defense while doing everything possible to keep citizens contented.

In the case of diplomacy challenges, these usually manifest at the most unexpected moments. Strangers who have ignored you for hundreds of turns might suddenly declare war. A neighbor who was your ally for centuries might be bribed into an alliance against you. To win the game, you must be ready for all such sudden disasters.

And in the 2019 Gathering Storm expansion, nature’s wrath joins the stage! In this add-on, it is no longer without consequence to establish a city beside a volcano or a major river. Before building your first seaside city, you must also consider whether it would be affected by rising sea levels. More importantly, whether your playing strategy would contribute to rising ocean levels too.

Again, such mirroring of real-world crises might be too upsetting for some gamers. However, embraced with the right mentality, it could be a great introduction to the complexities of the human race too. If anything, doesn’t it teach us to be patient and strategic, and never to panic when confronted or frustrated?

To also always consider the consequences of our actions?

At the same time, who knows? You might just remember a terrible diplomatic tragedy from the game the next time a friend or colleague backstabs you. What you learned from the game might then help you emerge from that betrayal unscathed. With a bit of skill, you might even emerge “victorious.”

Alexander the Great in “Civ VI.” How would you fair against the greatest conquerer of the Classical Era?

Alexander the Great in “Civ VI.” How would you fair against the greatest conquerer of the Classical Era?

5. There Is a Huge and Active Community of Mods

For some gamers, the worth of a game is measured not just by the gaming experience, but also by the number of fan mods written for it. In the case of this series, there are literally hundreds of mods found on different platforms. Many of these are elaborate and expertly scripted too.

Additional leaders. Additional civilizations. All sorts of new battle units, tech-trees, improvements, and wonders. The list goes on and on.

Such mods empower Civilization games with incredible re-playability, which in turn translates to fantastic worth for money. Just imagine, hundreds of leaders, each with unique strengths and weaknesses and personalities. How many ways of playing the games are there?

And if you have the necessary skills, you could make your own mods too. How about adding your favorite world leader to the list and seeing how he or she would fare against other giants?

Or, how about fashioning yourself into a tyrant, and seeing how long you would last? The way the Civilization series is designed, every session has the potential to be unique and unpredictable.

In my opinion, this alone is more than enough reason for you to start indulging in this addictive world of “one more turn.”

© 2016 Ced Yong

Comments

Ced Yong (author) from Asia on September 18, 2016:

Cheeky:

You should go for Civ VI next month! Firaxis being ... Firaxis, I'm confident they would churn out another classic, with the flaws of V addressed.

As for the time consumption, heh. That's unavoidable. I was so engrossed when playing V I "vanished" for two weeks. My friends thought I was in hospital.

Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on September 18, 2016:

I've played Civilization V and it's so vast it's time-consuming to grasp everything. It's pretty fun to play though. I'm actually thinking of getting Civilization VI.

Ced Yong (author) from Asia on September 13, 2016:

Actually, Gandhi or India never bothered me too much whether in IV, Revolution or V.

The one I really hate is Casimir. You know you're in a sucky time the moment he's beside you in Civ 5.

ReViewMeMedia on September 12, 2016:

Sure you don't stress in this game, until Gandhi gets nukes and uses them on you!

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