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Apparently, Sid Meier makes highly offensive and insensitive games.

firewaterwordfirewaterword SatchitanandaPais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
edited July 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Hi there D&D! Full disclosure - this is my first post here. Been lurking for awhile. Smart folks in these here boards. With that said, please be gentle.

I happened upon an article taking issue with an upcoming expansion for Sid Meier's Civilization IV game called "Colonization," which you may find here.

Here are some bits:
...the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling.

...the lack of outrage over the game does make me feel like I have to explain myself... Throughout history, colonization regularly involved stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and the exploitation or decimation of native people. Anybody with a shred of a moral concience who studies the history will be appalled.

The obvious comparison that spring to my mind would be if somebody released a game called "Civilization IV: Confederacy," in which players have to "lead a proud people to defend their values and traditions against their oppressive neighbors to the North." Sure the game might not require you to own and abuse your slaves. But defending the Confederacy is inherently about defending the racist practice of slavery. And "conquer[ing] and rul[ing] the New World" is inherently about engaging in the racist practice of exploiting and abusing native people.

Now, I've enjoyed a few games of Civ back in the day, and I personally feel that his outrage is absolutely misplaced, but I'm very interested to hear what this community has to say in regards to this article. Much like the author, I know very little about the game itself, apart from what's been put out via press release.

So, good people of D&D, what say you?

EDIT - Oh, and I just noticed, he totally spelled "conscience" wrong. For what it's worth, this gentleman works for Variety.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
firewaterword on
«13

Posts

  • ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Aren't there already Civ scenarios where you can play the Confeds?


    ...And the Nazis?

    Scooter on
  • KungFuKungFu Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I don't think you're going to get much of a different reaction from a forum based around a videogame comic.

    KungFu on
    Theft 4 Bread
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I have no words. Though I should clarify that it's not a Civ 4 expansion, it's a stand alone game.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • AibynAibyn Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    20010117h.jpg

    Aibyn on
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    -- (Terry Pratchett, alt.fan.pratchett)
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  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I have no words. Though I should clarify that it's not a Civ 4 expansion, it's a stand alone game.

    Thank you for the clarification! I was unsure as to that point. Frankly, prior to this article, I'd never heard of it, though I vaguely remember the older one.
    KungFu wrote:
    I don't think you're going to get much of a different reaction from a forum based around a videogame comic.

    While you may certainly be correct, this gentleman makes, in part I'm sure, his living writing about gaming. For a nationally recognized publication, no less.

    firewaterword on
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Caaba Beankomy XobthroRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    This just makes me want to go download super columbine massacre and play it in public to outrage more people.

    I think this guy needs to learn to lighten up.

    I played the original colonization, and yeah, you screw over the indians in that one too. It was just a game though. I can play GTA and not go kill hookers.

    Or can I...?

    JebusUD on
    And I won, so you lose,
    Guess it always comes down to.
  • TalleyrandTalleyrand Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Isn't an even bigger aspect of the game, and nearly every game, war? Isn't war a worse crime than colonization?

    Talleyrand on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Talleyrand wrote: »
    Isn't an even bigger aspect of the game, and nearly every game, war? Isn't war a worse crime than colonization?

    Colonization is largely economic, actually. War is how you eventually win, but it's basically building up a meaningful trading colony so that you can afford nice things and eventually rebel against your evil European oppressor.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • seasleepyseasleepy Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Talleyrand wrote: »
    Isn't an even bigger aspect of the game, and nearly every game, war? Isn't war a worse crime than colonization?

    Colonization is largely economic, actually. War is how you eventually win, but it's basically building up a meaningful trading colony so that you can afford nice things and eventually rebel against your evil European oppressor.
    Although, at least in the old game, completely destroying the Aztecs/Inca is a quick and easy way to getting more money than you know what to do with. ;-) (Aside from them, getting rid of any other Indian camp isn't going to help a whole ton. They don't give much cash, and you lose a trading partner and a training location for your unskilled workers.)

    But generally, yeah, it's a much more economic-based game, particularly compared to Civ. Unless you decide to go after people, you can get by with just one soldier in a lot of your colonies until the endgame. You're going to spend the majority of your time trying to maximize your production and figure out who to trade with to get the most bang for your buck.

    seasleepy on
    Steam | Nintendo: seasleepy | PSN: seasleepy1
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Ugh

    disgusting. Sid has created some of the most magnificent games to see the light of day and someone has to bring up this. Yes, colonization was dreadful and violent. However, so are all historical periods that games are based on. Age of empires has several campaigns based on warlike and brutal conquesters, like the spanish conquistadors and the mongol hordes. Look at how many games are based on WWII, a truly brutal period of time.

    I thought this was based on the fact that colonization 1 basically (and wisely, in my opinion) sidestepped the issue of slavery in the colonies. I'm not sure if they'll do the same in the 2nd one.

    Casual Eddy on
    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I have yet to see any new features (besides the obvious multiplayer and improved AI/diplomacy) and the game is supposed to come out in the fall. It's weird.

    Also: where are my Portuguese!

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2008
    It's true that games tend to romanticize history to a large extent, and thus make more attractive actions and practices that we no longer accept. Which is normal; these are, after all, games.

    However I fail to see how this makes the material highly offensive and/or insensitive. If anything, one can argue that the educational value of games made by Sid Meier grossly outweighs the potential to offend a bunch of hard-asses who have nothing better to do than be offended.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    exactly

    A huge amount of what I learned about american history came from playing colonization

    Casual Eddy on
    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • BlackDragon480BlackDragon480 Bluster Kerfuffle Master of Windy ImportRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    exactly

    A huge amount of what I learned about american history came from playing colonization

    In much the same way that Sid's games taught me way, way too much about Gettysburg.

    BlackDragon480 on
    First they came for the Muslims and we said...NOT TODAY MOTHERFUCKERS!
  • matisyahumatisyahu Registered User
    edited June 2008
    seasleepy wrote: »
    Although, at least in the old game, completely destroying the Aztecs/Inca is a quick and easy way to getting more money than you know what to do with.

    I think this is what people find offensive. Yes, it's true that this was the effect of colonization, the colonizers got more money than they knew what to do with. That is, on a very superficial level, historically accurate.

    The fear isn't that kids are going to travel back in time and indiscriminately slaughter natives in all corners of the planet, the problem is you're supporting a really bad, impersonal version of world history. Maybe that's a limitation on video games as a whole, but even Call of Duty has been more empathetic (50,000 people used to live here, etc) than the Civ games I've played.

    People are defending this game saying "well at least it's semi-educational," but honestly, how educational is it? You learn Montezuma's name, what an Aztec warrior might have looked like if he were an 80x80 pixel sprite, and you learn how to manipulate the turn-based game mechanic in a very specific way to win. The colonization aspect is just a bit of frosting to make the pill go down smooth.

    Would this be a problem if it were a board game? I don't know, but my gut says "probably not." The nature of computer games-- by which I mean the large amount of time invested, the somewhat cinematic presentation-- would seem to raise the standard a bit for a solid narrative. You can say "it's history" all you want. Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative was history, too, but no way could you publish it as a work of fiction in this day and age. In real life, other people are people too. In Civ, other people are just avatars that disappear if you research gunpowder fast enough.

    Do I honestly give a shit about this? No, but I'm culturally irresponsible and probably will die alone. All I'm saying is the complaint isn't without its merits.

    matisyahu on
    i dont even like matisyahu and i dont know why i picked this username
  • enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    You also learn who various colonial figures were and what they did and how that affects your colony when you get them to join you. And generally the natives were treated pretty fairly and if you thought about it all you felt kind of bad slaughtering them, so there's that.

    enlightenedbum on
    Herbert Hoover got 40% of the vote in 1932. Friendly reminder.
    Warren 2020
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2008
    People are defending this game saying "well at least it's semi-educational," but honestly, how educational is it? You learn Montezuma's name, what an Aztec warrior might have looked like if he were an 80x80 pixel sprite, and you learn how to manipulate the turn-based game mechanic in a very specific way to win. The colonization aspect is just a bit of frosting to make the pill go down smooth.

    Well, there's a reason Civilopedia is there: to highlight the games' emphasis on education and awareness. Most Civilopedia articles I've read are fairly detailed and accurate, and they've led to further research on my part because I'm a fairly curious individual.

    Also, you have to realize the massive number of people who would never have learned who the Incas were if it weren't for Sid Meier's games. In this sense, I see his games as a means to make up what the American public education system lacks, and I think it goes a step further by instilling a habit of curiosity in the player.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Maybe we should stop requiring games to educate idiots in the first place? I mean, if you're cognizant and aware then you tend to end up learning something (or should know something, at my age) about the history of colonization in America so the fact you just wiped out the Incan civilizations for gold should stand out as an interesting lesson on what Cortez and them were all about.

    electricitylikesme on
  • matisyahumatisyahu Registered User
    edited June 2008
    The point, electricity, is that maybe we would, as a culture, know something more about colonization of the Americas if video games like this did a better job of teaching it.

    Media is a dominant educating force and it's unreasonable to expect someone to know x information before consuming games and movies because the media cycle gets to you first. If we can elevate the media narrative a bit, maybe we won't have as many idiots. Won't be easy, won't ever happen, but maybe it should.

    matisyahu on
    i dont even like matisyahu and i dont know why i picked this username
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I'm sorry but did you even play the original colonization? The manual for that game contained a history of colonization for each of the 4 major powers in that game, history for each of the founding fathers and a history of the interactions of the major amerindian tribes which appeared in the game and their interactions with the colonizing powers.

    All of which, I read, as a matter of course during and after playing the game.

    electricitylikesme on
  • UmaroUmaro Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    A video game depicting controversial activities?!

    Tittifuck!

    Umaro on
    Dogs.jpg
  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    The point, electricity, is that maybe we would, as a culture, know something more about colonization of the Americas if video games like this did a better job of teaching it.

    Media is a dominant educating force and it's unreasonable to expect someone to know x information before consuming games and movies because the media cycle gets to you first. If we can elevate the media narrative a bit, maybe we won't have as many idiots. Won't be easy, won't ever happen, but maybe it should.
    ....these are the games you choose to complain over? The vast majority of games are absolute shit from an educational standpoint. Sid Meier's games make up some of the best and brightest of that remainder.

    Further the whole thing is mildly silly. The games are intentionally apolitical. Fundamentalism is a viable governing option in all the civ games. Communism is really rather useful. Where possible it avoids trying to make value judgments and simply comes prepackaged with enough unbiased information to whet peoples curiosity.

    DevoutlyApathetic on
  • ZimmydoomZimmydoom Registered User
    edited June 2008
    Umaro wrote: »
    A video game depicting controversial activities?!

    Tittifuck!

    They do have those.

    They're not that great.

    6/10

    Zimmydoom on
    Better-than-birthday-sig!
    Gim wrote: »
    Zimmydoom, Zimmydoom
    Flew away in a balloon
    Had sex with polar bears
    While sitting in a reclining chair
    Now there are Zim-Bear hybrids
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    Watch out, a Zim-Bear is about to have sex with yooooooou!
  • matisyahumatisyahu Registered User
    edited June 2008
    Warcraft III came with a lengthy book full of Azerothian history that most people didn't read. The parts people read are a) how do I do stuff b) how do I win. When the product contains very little information, but the accompanying literature that most people throw away does, there's a problem. The accompanying literature needs to be better incorporated into the games.

    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.

    matisyahu on
    i dont even like matisyahu and i dont know why i picked this username
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Which comes back to "why are we requiring games to educate idiots?"

    Idiots won't read any of that shit. People who are interested and like learning will. Why should anyone be required in a selectively absorbed medium to try and throw learning in the face of the responder? Why not target a system where we intend for people to absorb knowledge, like I don't know, the education system rather then the entertainment medium?

    electricitylikesme on
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.
    Jerusalem is fictional now?

    Quid on
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    Warcraft III came with a lengthy book full of Azerothian history that most people didn't read. The parts people read are a) how do I do stuff b) how do I win. When the product contains very little information, but the accompanying literature that most people throw away does, there's a problem. The accompanying literature needs to be better incorporated into the games.

    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.

    That's just your experience though. Colonization did a very good job of incorporating that history into the gameplay. The description and abilities of founding fathers, the strengths and backgrounds of the different nations, the locations and names of indian tribes, the system of warfare and naval combat, from indian raids to privateers, and of course the system of mercantilsm that you attempted to overcome by producing finished good in your colony. Not to mention the crown increasingly taxes your colonies until your products are either boycotted or it's no longer profitable to run things without declaring independence. Oh yeah, and declaring independence, which even factors in the continentals use of guerilla tactics and the european tendency to incite indians against the colonists, and of course the intervention of a sympathetic european power.

    Casual Eddy on
    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I'm not sure how this is any worse than any historical RTS ever where you can play as Romans, Vikings, Nazi Germans, etc. History is full of cultures doing horrific shit to each other, as a species, its basically what we do to each other, you pretty much can't touch on any era or aspect of history without running into something like that. And the alternative is what, never make any historical entertainment of any kind?

    Unless this game gives you bonus points to bringing in native scalps or handing out small-pox infected blankets, I'm really not seeing the outrage here as anything but an author looking for attention.

    Corvus on
    :so_raven:
  • matisyahumatisyahu Registered User
    edited June 2008
    Quid-- That might not have been the best example, but the Jerusalem you're playing in is accessed thru some heavy sci fi DNA memory regression deal, which might lead the player to believe that they won't be learning much. Civ, on the other hand, looks very much like educational programming. AC is probably guilty of some of Civ's sins, too, so it was a bad example.

    electricity-- Why should the people who don't like learning have bad history fed to them? Why do they have to think of 15gv3fc.jpg when they think of barbarians? Nobody's requiring anybody to do anything, but wouldn't it be nice to have a rich, human narrative or a responsible telling of part of history in a video game?

    matisyahu on
    i dont even like matisyahu and i dont know why i picked this username
  • ElkiElki get busy Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited June 2008
    Quid wrote: »
    matisyahu wrote: »
    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.
    Jerusalem is fictional now?
    He's probably talking about the portrayal of the conflict.

    Elki on
    smCQ5WE.jpg
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    Warcraft III came with a lengthy book full of Azerothian history that most people didn't read. The parts people read are a) how do I do stuff b) how do I win. When the product contains very little information, but the accompanying literature that most people throw away does, there's a problem. The accompanying literature needs to be better incorporated into the games.

    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.

    Good thing we're discussing Sid Meier's games, and not those other ones.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    electricity-- Why should the people who don't like learning have bad history fed to them? Why do they have to think of 15gv3fc.jpg when they think of barbarians? Nobody's requiring anybody to do anything, but wouldn't it be nice to have a rich, human narrative or a responsible telling of part of history in a video game?

    That would require the developers to be responsible and educated.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • dgs095dgs095 Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    The civ games are awesome, and at least somewhat educational. Its impossible to teach history in an unbiased manner, so it might as well be civ, and it might as well be an obvious bias "Woohoo! Colonization and slavery makes me rich and powerful! This is great!"

    Of all the video/computer games to pick on this has got to be one of the least offensive and most benificial to society. You have to balance a budged (taxation/spending), prepare for the future, prevent revolts, negotiate with other players or AI....and thats completely ignoring cultural or historical signifigance.

    The number of people who live pay check to pay check and have no understanding of diplomacy is astounding.

    Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe we should just boycot civ games and play more GTA IV and 3D shooters where you often play as criminals, natzi's or terrorists and get rewarded for "heatshots" and blowing shit up.

    News media is all about shock value, number killed/disfigured/starving, reporting on every horrible thing gone wrong with humanity. People need to cut video games some serious slack.

    1. Games are fake.
    2. Shit on the news and in the streets is real.
    3. Even children know this.
    If society is disallusioned or children are warped, stop blamming games, and do something more constructive than rant. Go be part of a "big brother" mentorship program or something. I'm tired of people trying to scapegoat video-games or the internet for all of societies problems. Articles "taking issue" with such and such a game are just trying to jump on the bandwagon, and should be ignored or made fun of, because they lack any merit whatsoever and are just trying to make a quick buck by trying to fan the flames of an issue that should be long dead.

    dgs095 on
  • ChurchChurch Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    I would agree that colonialism is despicable. But outrage over a game glorifying it, in an industry that almost invariably glorifies personal crime, is stupid.

    Church on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    How is civ an irresponsible telling of history?

    The fourth one especially is very telling about a number of historical concepts. Just because of the nature of the game it's not possible to tell history, but it still explores the progression of technology, warfare, and culture.

    Casual Eddy on
    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • ChurchChurch Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    The obvious comparison that spring to my mind would be if somebody released a game called "Civilization IV: Confederacy," in which players have to "lead a proud people to defend their values and traditions against their oppressive neighbors to the North."

    Actually, he has done this. Eleven years ago.

    Church on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    Quid-- That might not have been the best example, but the Jerusalem you're playing in is accessed thru some heavy sci fi DNA memory regression deal, which might lead the player to believe that they won't be learning much. Civ, on the other hand, looks very much like educational programming. AC is probably guilty of some of Civ's sins, too, so it was a bad example.

    electricity-- Why should the people who don't like learning have bad history fed to them? Why do they have to think of 15gv3fc.jpg when they think of barbarians? Nobody's requiring anybody to do anything, but wouldn't it be nice to have a rich, human narrative or a responsible telling of part of history in a video game?
    It's an RTS.

    EDIT: The player controls the outcome of colonization. How can it have a narrative?

    electricitylikesme on
  • dgs095dgs095 Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    matisyahu wrote: »
    Quid-- That might not have been the best example, but the Jerusalem you're playing in is accessed thru some heavy sci fi DNA memory regression deal, which might lead the player to believe that they won't be learning much. Civ, on the other hand, looks very much like educational programming. AC is probably guilty of some of Civ's sins, too, so it was a bad example.

    electricity-- Why should the people who don't like learning have bad history fed to them? Why do they have to think of 15gv3fc.jpg when they think of barbarians? Nobody's requiring anybody to do anything, but wouldn't it be nice to have a rich, human narrative or a responsible telling of part of history in a video game?
    It's an RTS.

    EDIT: The player controls the outcome of colonization. How can it have a narrative?

    Well, you could make a turn based game that still has a starcraft/warcraft type single player campain with preset scenarios, victory conditions and cinematics between levels.
    But you couldn't claim such a game to be "as historically acurate as possible" and not piss off several groups of people. Of course, I'd encourage sid to make a game like this, if only so my future children could play it in history class, because O-LOL games teach history!

    Edit: anyways, I said my rant about this article in a previous post, I need to get some sleep.

    dgs095 on
  • Casual EddyCasual Eddy Don't despair. Not even over the fact that you don't despair.Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Yes but understanding history is so much more than knowing when a battle happened or a certain event.

    It's more much the study of general concepts and trends over time. Sure you could make a campaign detailing some war or conquest but that would only give a narrow view of a certain event. Civ and colonization did excellent jobs at teaching concepts.

    Casual Eddy on
    Elki wrote: »

    Casual Eddy: best poster 2014.
    tyrannus wrote: »
    Casual Eddy: best poster of 2015

    gotta update that stuff man
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Elki wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    matisyahu wrote: »
    edit: It's obviously less egregious with Warcraft III or something like Assassin's Creed or whatever because they are fictional, giving people a fantasy world instead of perverting the real world.
    Jerusalem is fictional now?
    He's probably talking about the portrayal of the conflict.
    Which, while using real names and places, is not an accurate depiction. Kind of like colonization in Civ.

    Though he's already admitted that it was a bad example so this is mostly just to get in talk time with Elki.

    Quid on
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