Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned from a Video Game
September 9, 2002 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Everything I Needed to Know about Life, I Learned from a Video Game... Brad DeLong uses Sid Meier's CIVILIZATION 3 to teach his kids a valuable lesson about Democracy.
posted by crunchland (22 comments total)
"It's impossible to wage an aggressive campaign of conquest," says the nine-year-old. "They force you to make peace prematurely."

Yeah... *cough* sure.

(the "nine year old" then proceeded to shave, put a coat of wax on his Honda Civic, and check his PDA for his afternoon appointments)
posted by cadastral at 10:19 PM on September 9, 2002

I still find Master of Magic the best of the sims...Actually, one of the better simulation games that teaches you *something* about the real world is Capitalism (actually, I didn't even know capII was out, but the original rocks)
posted by jmd82 at 10:58 PM on September 9, 2002

This is the damn reason why you dont give a 9 year old child coffee!
posted by Dreamghost at 11:13 PM on September 9, 2002

"Not if another civilization on earth happens to be led by Genghis Khan and possesses nuclear weapons..." teach your children postmodernism.
posted by scout at 11:24 PM on September 9, 2002

I stopped playing that game right after the turn where a longbowman with two health took out my Abrams Modern Armor tank, also with two health, and then three Aztec ironclads took out my battleship.

Ok, I'll give you the latter, but the former? What, my guys can't button themselves up in the tank and drive away? Deleted!
posted by Tacodog at 11:29 PM on September 9, 2002

I waged a successful aggressive campaign of conquest while maintaining democracy in Civ III and won the game militarily. Admittedly, I had a pretty sweet setup. There were basically two continents, one considerably larger than the other. I started on the smaller of the two, and I easily conquered my two closest neighbors early in the game, giving me unchallenged rule over my entire continent. I then developed ocean faring ships before anyone else, built a powerful Navy and, after successfully colonizing three nearby islands, I invaded the coast of the larger continent. I set up my forbidden palace in the middle of my new stronghold (this is key!), and set about on a grand campaign of military expansionism. By the time 2050 rolled around, I had gained control of nearly half of the larger continent.

It wasn't difficult, but it did require an intellect beyond nine years of age. That being said, Civ III is completely unrealistic and heavily biased against military conquest, which I'm sure even the children understood, at least better than their father. As tacodog pointed out, I see.
posted by David Dark at 11:39 PM on September 9, 2002

And I'm just thinking - I thought my kid was cool at completing Freddi Fish when he was only four...

I don't think this is meant as a serious diary piece, especially if you read the last comment... No kid is going to be that distracted.
posted by sparehed at 11:39 PM on September 9, 2002

Wow, and I thought "Spearman killed my Tank!?! WTF?!" type comments were limited only to CivFanatics and Apolyton.
posted by nathan_teske at 11:58 PM on September 9, 2002

I found this only worth a chuckle; Brad's blogged much better than that. Look around; not only is he an Econ prof at Berkeley, he did a stint as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in Treasury back in Clinton's first term. (So he does know a bit about the topic, and has in a sense played the game for real...) Here's a much better sample of his incisive thinking, this about whether Stalin was as bad as that "other guy", and why the question is important. (The book being discussed is a precursor for parts of our recent the Amis-Hitchens thread.)
posted by dhartung at 12:08 AM on September 10, 2002

My life and world view have been enriched more from the insights granted by the game Alpha Centauri than from almost any other creative work. Civilization is checkers to AC's go.
posted by bunnytricks at 3:03 AM on September 10, 2002

I must say, Civ II did actually teach me a lot..
posted by Orange Goblin at 4:12 AM on September 10, 2002

dhartung..I added that blog to my reading list after seeing those other posts. They are much better than the one being discussed.

I do wonder why no one has yet mentioned the effects of playing Civ II on those young minds. Oops..I just did. I'm turning into my mother.
posted by ?! at 5:53 AM on September 10, 2002


I agree. Alpha Centauri was the best Civ game ever.
How can you not love a game that quotes Nietzsche & Kant?
posted by rhizome23 at 6:29 AM on September 10, 2002

I was never able to play Civ II as a Democracy. It was too much of a burden. Every time you tried to get something done you were eventually overruled by the house of representatives. I found being a good old dictatorship was much more productive. Nukes were always the best way to dispatch a resistant enemy. Now you know the life lessons I learned when I was playing the game, though I was a bit over 9 years old.
posted by evbogue at 7:18 AM on September 10, 2002

I've won every game of Civ I have ever played, and it's all been military conquest. I sign meaningless treaties, only to break them. I am usually a democracy, but I just revolt whenever I need to backstab someone. Or, if I get bored of that, Communism usually allows me the freedom I need.

In one game, I wiped out 7 other civilizations. Of course, I only needed to cause global warming 3-4 times, to achieve that end. But hey, the engineers can fix all that -- so no harm, no foul.

Civ is far from a life lesson. Addictive as hell, though.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:54 AM on September 10, 2002

Alpha Centauri rocks.

But it's a lot easier than Civ III... if I play the Gaians or University I will roll over everyone else. Usually it's a race between my military power and my scientific achievements; the other factions don't really have a chance.

Playing as the Morganites, now that's hard. Which is something maybe the US could learn from, heh.
posted by Foosnark at 9:19 AM on September 10, 2002

I'd usually get Monarchy as soon as I could, then build the Statue of Liberty so I could pick and choose...Republic for fast research to win by Space Race, Fundementalism to win by War..
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:23 AM on September 10, 2002

Note to self...do no play Dark Messiah in online Civ3.

Just to throw in another fanboy comment, the Civ series has been (along with the SimCity series) the most addictive set of games I have ever played. You win one way, then play again to try a new method. Great fun, but I'm not too sure about the whole "educational" angle. Having the despotic Egyptians rule the world just doesn't seem too real-to-life to me...go figure.
posted by JaxJaggywires at 9:42 AM on September 10, 2002

In Civ 2, Democracy is your key to fast economic and scientific growth. I try to get there as fast as I possibly can.

However, democracy is only useful if you expand like crazy and include safeguards to minimize anarchy (like the Statue of Liberty). Small Democracies die quickly and horribly.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:37 PM on September 10, 2002

Oh! And also, this is one of my favorite links ever.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2002

i'll second master of magic :) i need a hero!

brad is a member btw! well sort of i guess :)
posted by kliuless at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2002

i always loved the Civ series, but my true passion is reserved for Masters of Orion, or as it's also known: Civ in space.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on September 10, 2002

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