Civilization (Beyond the Pixels)

One computer game series you may not have heard a ton about is Civilization.  However, with the release of Civilization VI happening this Friday, October 21st (thus meaning my whole weekend is set aside for gaming), it seemed like an appropriate time for a TSU post on the Civilization series as a whole.

Civilization is a turn-based strategy game where you are the leader of a civilization just starting out in the world.  You get to choose which leader you control, and these leaders often vary in their abilities, available military units, and have special buildings that only their civilization can build.  You start from the ground up by founding your first city, beginning research in ancient technology such as husbandry, pottery, and masonry, while defending your city against invading barbarians.  You choose what your city produces and can either automate or fine-tune what land you want your workers to utilize around each city.  As you progress in the game by exploring and researching more technologies, you will meet other civilizations (controlled by the computer) and develop alliances, create trade routes, craft treaties and fight in wars.  You will expand your civilization by building more cities to acquire more land and resources, develop the land and build roads with workers, and ensure that you have a sufficient military to defend yourself – or invade a rival whose land you covet!  As time and your research progresses, you will discover things such as the Internet and rocketry, build navies and discover uranium, and construct wonders such as the Great Lighthouse, the Pyramids, and more.

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In many Civilization games there are multiple paths to win.  For instance, in Civilization V, military conquest, creating a rocket to colonize a new planet, getting voted into leading the World Congress, and being the dominant cultural civilization are all viable paths to winning the game.  Many civilizations tend to favor one path to winning over the others due to their unique abilities and units, but that does not mean that they cannot try to win by other means.  Many of the ways to win are locked to discovering certain technologies or require significant time investment, so each game can take a decent length of time if played at a standard pace.

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Each game of Civilization can be customized to suit however you want to play, which creates endless replayability and an insane amount of fun.  You can choose the size of the map, what type of map you want to play on, the age at which you begin (ancient, modern, etc.), the sea levels, the civilizations present in the game, the difficulty level, the number of opponents, and more.  There are a ton of different map types, such as pangea, continents, islands, ring world, and users can even create their own and share them with others.  User-created maps such as Westeros from the Game of Thrones series or Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings are fan favorites.  Fans have even created entirely new rule sets, animations, and civilizations that you can import into your game!

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So, what about the Civilization series can be useful for teens?  First of all, each civilization has a bit of backstory at the very beginning about the leader and civilization you chose to play.  Additionally, many of the research options have interesting quotes from famous people throughout history that relate to that research, along with a bit of information about the subject itself.  This also goes for the different World Wonders that can be constructed.  The game itself is a good way to practice strategic thinking and learn about how different civilizations may have interacted in the past.  I’ve played this game series since its inception and I’ve learned a lot about various leaders, civilizations, and technologies that I would have likely never learned had I not played the games.

The Civilization series has been around since 1991, with (as of this upcoming Friday) 6 games in the main series and a large number of expansions, some spin-off games, and even a board game.  I have personally never found a better turn-based strategy game that keeps me glued to my seat and focused on “Just one more turn…”, which is a common joke among Civilization players.  The game is thoroughly addicting – I’ll find myself saying that I’ll go to bed in a few minutes, and four hours later I realize that I’m not actually in bed and still sitting at my computer, trying to conquer that last pesky civilization.

If you’re looking for a game for teens or yourself that involves turn-based strategy, historical elements, endless replayability, and even some educational information, give Civilization a try!  Civilization V (with both expansions and downloadable content) is often on sale for quite cheap, since the newest title is about to be released this Friday.  I think I’ve mentioned that a couple times – can you tell that I’m excited to stay up all night, saying “Just one more turn…”?

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