The Civ games are superficially just another turn-based strategy game, but they really function as a vivid interactive tutorial on how civilizations develop, how populations grow, how technology accumulates, how historical and geographical contingencies work, how superior trade is to warfare in promoting prosperity, etc. A lot of wisdom about history, economics, demographics, geography, etc. is built into these games, and players absorb that wisdom quickly and painlessly just through playing them. So Civ's designer Sid Meiers is arguably one of the great unacknowledged educators of the modern world. I also suspect that people who have spent at least 40 hours playing Civ will show a higher appreciation of modern life and more rational optimism about the human future.
15 December 2010
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