Monday, February 01, 2010

I Get Along with Pain Relief from Building a Civilization

Computer games don't affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music. --Marcus Brigstocke
As a former stage electrician who loves to tinker with lighting, I sit in a bright room most of the time, munching pills for the pain, and I hate repetitive music (new favorite band: The Libertines). But my computer game, Civilization, does affect me, by relieving my pain.

Playing Civilization affects me in other ways, too, mainly in terms of interactive education about civilizations in general. In a recent John Robb review of The Evolution of Civilizations by Carroll Quigley, Robb points out that Quigley charts out the evolution of civilizations much like other historians:
These levels of cultural development play a roll in how a civilization advances through Quigley's model (very similar to Toynbee and other historians) for a civilization's development.  These are:  1) Mixture, 2) Gestation, 3) Expansion, 4) Age of Conflict, 5) Universal Empire, 6) Decay, and 7) Invasion.  His analysis confirmed that all civilizations progress on this path, with an occasional jump from stage 4 (conflict) to 6 (decay).   At the time the book was being written, our current level of development was 4, an Age of Conflict (the Cold War) and he was unsure about the final outcome.  
 I'd like to see the Civilizations computer game go a little further into the future (it ends in 2050, before steps 6 and 7). Having the challenges of maintaining a Universal Empire grow exponentially would be a more pertinent and fun way to end the game, which would provide the kind of challenge that would keep my brain busy enough to relieve even the worst pain, while maybe teaching me a few things about resilient communities that could prove valuable someday.

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