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World domination may not be in the cards - A little less than a happy high
komos
komos
World domination may not be in the cards
I remember playing a game of Civ III not too long ago where I had managed to stake out a small but relatively productive territory in spite of the very aggressive settlements of my neighbors. The French in particular had posed a problem, dropping cities on several sites I had chosen a mere turn before my settlers arrived. Things progressed apace until I discovered gunpowder slightly ahead of everyone else’s research curve. Unfortunately, there was no saltpeter anywhere in my territory.

Scouting around the map, I discovered that the French city that had most irked me (because of its placement, my empire had a crescent shape as opposed to the more pleasing oval) sat controlling the sole saltpeter square on that end of the continent. Given the incredibly cynical cast of the game, my choice was simple – attack the French before they realized what they had or risk dissolution and falling into remembrance as the “once-shining light” of this Earth’s Middle Ages.

I agonized over this. I was in such a moral conundrum about invading the territory of another culture over resources to build my “modern war machine” that I had to walk away from the game for several days before I could actually go forward. I tried everything I could short of surrendering to try to negotiate the release of the city and then, finally, I went to war. I felt awful. Despite knowing that Joan of Arc was just a series of algorithms and that there was no real harm being done in the simulation, I was pained at having to be so callously aggressive.

Sometimes I’m far too sensitive for my own good.

Current Mood: Ol' softy
Current Music: Neko Case, "Things That Scare Me"

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Comments
cris From: cris Date: December 12th, 2003 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
dude, the first time that ever happened to me (though, it was coal that was the resource in question, not saltpeter) my first reaction was "wow, the game's forcing me to go to war over natural resources ... that's so cool!"

though, I do find Civ can be a little too difficult to play if you want to go the pacifist route on the game. The computers just have a tendency to squeeze a little too much out of you, so it's nearly impossible to maintain friendly trading relationships with them over the long run. Goddamn, greedy machines.
komos From: komos Date: December 12th, 2003 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the game has a lot of flaws, least of which being its basis around a model of geographic determinism. Trade is incredibly weak. Computer players' conduct of war is fairly haphazard thanks to an erratic AI.

*sigh*

I think it's interesting that it's possible to be forced to war over strategic resources, but I still find it difficult negotiating what it means to me.
cris From: cris Date: December 12th, 2003 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's really helpful to separate game theory from morals. It doesn't have to "mean" anything to you aside from a reflection of your ability to recognize the game's ruleset and your ability to formulate a winning strategy based upon that ruleset. I'm guilty of committing a dozen crimes that I would ordinarily find morally reprehensible, but usually so long as I can think of it as a competitive reaction to a game rather than an ethical decision, I'm fine.

(it's, of course, when you start applying one moral outlook to the other context that you get in trouble)
komos From: komos Date: December 12th, 2003 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, most often I can make the distinction. But even with that in mind, I still approach most empire builders with the aim of creating societies of which I would be proud to be a part.

Herein lies my escapism. ^_^
tarotchan From: tarotchan Date: December 12th, 2003 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

hrmmmm

I'm a pacifist too.. but when playing Civ, I let the aggression flow free.. sadly nothing gives me greater pleasure when I play that game than discovering I wiped out an entire Civilization.
komos From: komos Date: December 12th, 2003 07:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: hrmmmm

Technically speaking, I'm not a pacifist. I have a clear sense that military actions are at times necessary and unavoidable. When "necessary and unavoidable" is replaced with "ends justify the means" that my hackles start being raised.

Provided the other tribe isn't entirely intractable, I prefer not to wipe them out if I'm forced to go to war. This, of course, may simply be further evidence that I have too much conscience for the questionable world of realpolitik.
From: ex_cayetana730 Date: December 13th, 2003 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Were they tryin to tell me something? Were they telling me to run?"
komos From: komos Date: December 14th, 2003 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Her lyrics are incredibly vivid. Probably my favorite line is "With curves so comely and sinister..."
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