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Civilization’s End

An ode to one of my favorite games.

The interstellar mission reaches the Centauri triple star system. Our nearest neighbor. The victory video plays. The immortal spirit reigning over the last 6,000 years of our civilization takes a bow and receives a numerical score comparing their achievements to those of other great leaders of history.

Again I have finished a game of Civilization. This time the sixth edition.

I’ve played every edition of the game of Civ since the very first one. I’ve seen the flat world become isometric become three-dimensional. I’ve seen the square grid world shift to a hexagonal grid. I’ve seen doomstacks unravel into seas of units, then coalesce again into corps and armies.

It’s a poignant experience.

Every game begins with limitless possibility.

A settler and their warrior companion against an unknown.

Maybe this time it will be different?

Maybe this time it will be new?

Turn by turn, the map is explored, era by era, the future is locked down and it is a game of our own past. Pottery leads to irrigation, gunpowder leads to some other forgettable technologies then a blur. One thing after another. Slower. Slower and slower. The world becomes full of units and empty of mystery.

Maybe this time the victory will feel satisfying?

No. A grind, again. Click. Click. Wait. Move. Sleep. Wake. Place. Build. Click. Just one more turn.

For an elegant surprise, but no.

Don’t allow me to deceive you. I love to play Civ. I think it’s a wonderful sandbox. It’s pre-programmed “AI” opponents don’t offer much of a game, but it’s still a lovely playtime.

But. Yet. And. If only.

Again I have finished a game of Civilization, and again I am left with a mild despondence, a shallow emptiness, a feeling of hours donated to an end predicted and certain in advance.

Maybe I will play it again in days.

Maybe in months.

I will play it again, I’m sure.

But I’ll also be disappointed again, I’m sure.

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