October 8, 2014
Civilization 5 analysis
Civilization 5 is a popular role-playing strategy game. In the game you play as a famous historical leader and try beat the other characters to one of 5 victories. Civilization is a fun game that also has some relevancy outside of itself, it uses gee’s principals, makes claims about society and possible claims about race.
Civilization V does a great job of instantiating many of Gee’s 36 principals. In my opinion the one it does the best job of doing is #36, Insider principal. You can customize pretty much everything in the game, from which leader you are to what kind of environment you want to play in. You can also change how people see you through out the game by the choices you make while playing. Other players will often be hostile toward you if you have gone to war with them in the past or if you are aggressive toward many other players. You can also mold how the game reacts to you in other ways besides being aggressive. Other characters in the game will react to almost any power play you make, from befriending city-states, to help you chances at a diplomatic victory, to founding a large amount of cities and taking up land that other players could take.
In civilization you can win in 5 different ways. Domination, by taking everyone’s capital city, Diplomacy, by getting enough votes to make you the leader of the UN, Cultural, by more tourism than all of the other nations culture, Science, by getting to Alpha Centarti, and Time by getting to the year 2050 with no one winning another ways and having the highest score. Because there are so many ways to win this game I think it brings in the Multiple Routes principal rather nicely. It allows for the player to choose which way they are most comfortable winning or which way they can formulate the best strategy but they can also try to find other ways if they feel like challenging themselves a little bit more. Because I personally like to stay on the defensive in this game and avoid conflict at all costs I chose to be Venice. Venice can only create one city but they get double the amounts of trade routes. Because they can make so much money I wanted to aim for a diplomatic victory. How this is achieved will be explained later in this paper. The fact that you choose a civilization to play with and then adopt all of their style of play bring in the Identity Principal. This is in play because you take on the role of someone and then have to make choices and interact with other players as that character
The discovery principal is in play in this game too; the game gives you some basic direction in the beginning then lets you loose. You can tell what kind of victories each player would be good for but the game does not tell you. It tells you how to do everything you need to know then lets you formulate your own strategy to win.
Here is my experience playing the game. Civilization lets you choose how you want your environment to be. You can pick what kind of terrain you want the world to be. You can choose how big you want it to be and how many other player you would like to play with you and can decide how good the other player are going to be. That’s one of the cool things about this game; you can have whatever game you want. I chose to play as Venice as stated earlier. You can tell what kind of victory each player would be good for by what perks the character gets. For instance Venice’s perks are the ability to buy city-states with great merchants and double the normal number of trade routes (the most beneficial perk they get) but they cannot annex or create new cities. Because Venice is able to make much more money than the average player they are best suited toward a diplomatic victory, money does run politics after all.
I wanted a sea based game because other civilizations tend to be less aggressive if you are not on the same piece of land as them so I played an fractal based map. Snaky islands around the map characterize fractal maps. I played on a small map because MacBook pros are not meant to play civilization and a smaller map helps the computer. Something about the graphics card makes it crash periodically while playing.
The game starts out with a bio about your character. It tells you about what they did to have history remember them. It reads it aloud to you as the map renders and it sets up other thing in the game. This “story” behind the game has no real meaning to how you play. You are almost entirely disconnected from you who choose to be after you click start the game when it is finished loading. The only mention to your character after this is when it randomly pops up the leaderboard for certain areas of game play, presumably so that you can recognize yourself. However knowledge of history it can be helpful in this game. The other characters in the game are programmed to have the personalities of the leaders they are emulating. Alexander the Great is very aggressive and will attack you whenever he feels that you are weak and he can win. The rest of time he is friendly. Siam is very peaceful and will not go to war with you unless you deliberately provoke him to the point of him wanting your gone. Bismarck will act the same as Alexander the Great except that after a war he will hold a grudge against you as opposed to Alexander who will act like nothing happened.
The game started, I got what I wanted and started by a coast on an island all by myself with plenty of city-states around to form trade routes with. I started with making a monument and a church so I could make culture to expand my borders and enough faith to have a healthy religious following (that can make you even more money if you know how to use it correctly and choose the right religious perks). I kept playing without much incident making trade routes with city states and eventually getting to the point where I was making enough money to start buying them into being my allies.
After a while I could no long fly under the radar of other civilizations and I started meeting them. This came at a good point in the game for me because I had already made allies with all of the city-states on my little island and had a surplus of money. When dealing with the other civilizations in the game I have found the best course of action is to have as little to do with them as possible if you are not trying to win a militaristic victory.
This is another interesting point about the game. The best way to keep peace with the other civilizations is to keep as far away from them as possible. You practically have to ignore them. The only thing that you can do with them that will not cause war is trading luxuries. They will often ask for an open borders treaty but these seemingly friendly offer is often just to see how big your military is and if you accept they will often declare war a few turns later. They also ask you to help go to war with them against some other civilization. The other times they talk to you is when you do something like buy land by them or spy on them or settle a city near them. In these cases they will ask you to not do the action again. The game gives you two options to respond to them an aggressive one and an apologetic one. The best way to keep peace is not to do any of the things they ask and reply politely if they tell you to stop doing something. The creator of the game may be saying that the best way for a country to keep peace is by being Switzerland and being neutral in all conflicts and not being a part of any treaties.
Meeting the other civilizations helped open up the map a bit and find more city-states that I could make into allies. City-states will vote for you in the world congress, donate food, give you money, make you troops and donate culture and faith points to your civilization. If you choose the social policies for it, you can have your city-states produce science for you too. After a while all the other civilizations had been discovered and the world congress could have its first meeting. The person who meets all of the civilizations first becomes the leader of the world congress. Around this point was also when the first civilization hit the renaissance era and espionage was introduced to the game. The game gives you spies and you can either choose to use them as diplomats or spies. As spies they can steal technologies from other civilizations but run the risk of getting killed and possibly having the other civilization find out that you did it, as diplomats they allow you to make diplomatic trades with other civilizations.
I chose to use my spy as a spy and put them in the Chinese capital because they were the most technologically advanced civilization at that time. At the world congress the leader of the congress gets to recommend a bill to be voted on as does the person with the second most number of votes. Since at the first world congress city-states do not get votes I did not get to choose a bill. The bills proposed were banning a luxury and funding the arts, there are many luxuries in the game and they increase the happiness of your nation. Banning them is a political move to try to get someone’s happiness to decrease. If someone you are at war with relies on cotton for happiness banning it would be a good political move. The other one was arts funding which affects how great people are produced. Great people give you certain upgrades in the game. Great scientist help you get a science boost, great engineers help you get a productivity boost. Arts funding takes away from great scientists, engineers, and merchants and gives it to great artists and musicians. The banning luxury bill failed and the arts funding one passes. Some time passed and Rome decided to build a city on my island. They then decided they didn’t like me and declared war. Luckily they were surrounded by my city-states which also declare war if someone declares war against you. They were able to distract Rome long enough for me to build an army and take the city they had on my island. After that Rome was willing to make peace with me. The rest of the game was pretty uneventful. China caught me stealing technologies a few times and then the game ended with me winning a diplomatic victory.
The diplomatic victory in this game is an interesting mechanic. To achieve this feat you have to get the most votes in the world congress. Votes are given for many things being the leader of the congress, building the forbidden palace, discovering globalization, following the world religion, following the world ideology and lastly and most importantly befriending city-states. City-states are the best way of getting votes and they will vote with the person who has the most influence with them. City-states are not the only way of getting votes but they are by far the most effective. The way to get your ideology to be the world ideology, your religion to be the world, and to become the leader of the world congress is to vote on it in the world congress. The ways to get influence are to complete quests for city-states or to give them money. The quests can be difficult and trying to complete them to get enough influence for a victory is not practical. This leaves the best way of getting influence to get votes is by buying the influence. Civilization is probably trying to say that politics is run by money by putting this in their game. Another way this is supported is through the way that diplomats act. The player can put a diplomat in another player’s capital and they will tell the player how that character is going to vote and also make political trades with that person. The game allows the player to pay other players money or really anything you have so that they will vote the way you need the votes to go. No matter how much money the player pays no other civilization will ever vote for them to win the game, so city-states are needed to achieve a diplomatic victory.
Civilization used all races and genders. This can is a rare occurrence in a video game; I think they were able to do this so easily because they use great leaders throughout history. White men mostly dominate our history books, but civilization made sure that all continents were well represented. Africa had leaders from Gao, Ethiopia, Morocco and the Zulus. Asia has Korea, China, Japan and Mongolia. The Americas have Iroquois, Aztecs, Shoshone, Brazil and the United States. The Middle East has a bunch of ancient civilizations. They didn’t exclude women from these either. Russia, China, England, Spain and Portugal are all women.
The African characters are slightly less advantaged in comparison to the others except for the Zulus. Their special traits are significantly worse as a group than any other race. Ethiopia has no real advantage toward any type of victory. They get a 20% attack bonus from civilizations with more cities than them. This serves only for defense because if you want to go for domination you almost have to have more cities than other people. Morocco receives slightly extra gold and a small amount of culture. This is at least based toward one type of victory but does not help much when you get to the middle of the game. As Gao you receive more gold from barbarians and pillaging cities they also get a promotion for their units that help them travel over water. These help but not nearly as much. The Zulus get 50% less unit maintenance and units require 25% less experience to get promotions on military units. The African characters in this game got significantly worse traits than the vast majority of the other characters and they were one of the smallest demographic groups in the game. This may be because western culture does not recognize African history to the extent of other places. There are only two times i can recall learning anything about African history. The first was AP European History, in that class it was look at as something the Europeans conquered and then abused the inhabitants of. It did not show any of the history there only how cruel their European invaders were. The other class I was taught African history in was French. We were taught the history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and how the Belgians took over their country and enslaved the inhabitants. In both of these classes Africans are looked to be people to feel pity for. They didn’t tell us about any African empires, any of their great leader or accomplishments of any kind. They are painted like savages. This may be the reason they are not overly available for play in this game. The difference in traits of the African characters versus the rest of the races in civilization can be attributed to a few possible reasons of a mix of them both. One that they are just racist and didn’t want to give the African characters good traits. Another is that they are trying to be historically accurate and those civilizations didn’t have as many advantages and lastly that they are pandering to their audience who have, for the most part, not learned anything about African history.
My experience playing Civilization was a good one. This has been one of my favorite games ever since my aunt bought me it in grade school. It’s a game that just grows on you each time you play. I have been playing it for years and still love it as much as when I got my first copy in grade school. No two games are ever the same you can start with different civilizations, different maps, different starting areas, different AI characters, and different relations with other people, the options are endless. It’s a game that can be played over and over and has societal value with pointing out some things about the world we live in.