Civilization: Beyond Earth from a Science Fiction Writer’s Perspective

sid-meier-civilization-beyond-earth-4I love to play video games, although they have to be of a certain sort. Simulation games are among my favorite. An among my favorite of those are the games of Sid Meier. What I love about them, particularly the Civilization series, is their complexity, and their ability to encompass many different philosophies of play.

You have to pay attention to many details, and keep track of multiple plans at once. There are economic, population, industrial, technological, military and diplomacy issues to keep track of, and there are lots of directions you can go in. I played Civilization V for at least 100 hours. I’ve won by being peaceful and cooperative, and I’ve won being warlike and acquisitive.

Civilization V is alt history. Civilization: Beyond Earth is science fiction, which is why I’m talking about it here. The premise is that instead of starting on Earth (or something like it) with a known hero of a known country/kingdom (George Washington, Ghengis Khan, etc.) you start with a fictional hero, from a fictional group (with connections to Earth,) on a new planet. The technology, instead of being historical (steam engine, road building, etc.) it’s science-fictional.

It’s world building. It’s constrained by the framework of the designer, but it is world building, and it’s fun. And I can imagine individual characters in the world I’m creating. That explorer – what is she doing? The scientist that just discovered a way to harness Xenomass – what is his world like? And a¬†soldier, who I can choose to make sit idly or go out and kill things – what is her life like? Who does she hang out with when she’s not sitting on that little hexagram?

Anyway, if you’re a fan of sim games, and have ever played any of the Civilization series, and you like space and space colonization, etc., it’s worth it to check out.

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One Comment

  1. I’d been hesitant to get Beyond Earth out of fear that they would either a) do it poorly or b) it would just be a rehash of Civ V. Glad to know that neither are the case!

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