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Who are we when we play Civ?

'Jeanne d' Arc', by Eugene Thirion (1897)

What entity are we when we play Civ? Not a mere king; these games span 5000 years without any change in focalisation. Despite appearances, we're not a race either; the tiles in Civ IV show a mix of ethnies almost from the start. We can't be an institution or government because I remain through my revolutions; in fact I cause a dozen revolutions when it suits me. Not God; there is too much we do not know and could not do if we did. (We can't even be a tribal god structure like Shinto, because all tribes begin without religion or even, mostly, the speculative mystical mindset.) A 'culture' is vague enough to fit, but almost meaningless, and worse, it gets in the way of my exciting idea.

But what does that leave - except the Geist of Hegel? Yes; our gameplay constitutes one tendril of one virtual iteration of Hegel's deistic God, the 'Weltgeist'. We play a Volksgeist which, through violent dialectic with other Volksgeister, creates history, and develops the world's consciousness through self-development. This process 'has to be' progressive; all our machinations and achievements are part of the generation of History/God. Though mortal, we feed that which is unkillable. Our eventual victory is the final synthesis, the contact if not actual identification with the Absolute; our eventual loss is our subsumation in another's final synthesis.

It's all because I became a serial addict of 'Civilization'. I played it for three months and then realized I hadn't done any work. In the end, I had to delete all the saved files and smash the CD. It is very unprofessional of me.
- Iain Banks

I'm playing [Civilization] thinking about sex. I'm definitely seeing Y tomorrow and I can't stop thinking about sex. I've got an erection and I'm sitting here in front of the machine in the darkness, crouched here in the box room of the flat with the light off and the radio on and the computer screen awash with the seductive, gently scrolling graphics of [Civ] and the light from the screen — blue, ochre, red, green — throws the shadow of my cock onto my belly
- Banks' Cameron Colley


  1. Just think how much more you should be playing Empire: Total War because it's better in every conceivable way and that should help you get over it x

  2. Who are we when we play Total War?

    Not a Civ player; a fortiori A COCK.


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