What Makes Civilization 6 So Popular?

Gaming as Education?


William Du, Staff Writer

When Mr. Carlisle first introduced another video game ibased in history during one of his lectures, even pulling up a short video trailer, I quickly dismissed it as another one of his tangents. After all, my 9th-grade history teacher often liked to go off-topic after the core materials were covered. Some days we’ll hear about a new mode in Assassin’s Creed that provides historically accurate information to explore. It danced through my mind for an entire year until my French teacher brought it up again. We were discussing what we enjoy doing in our free time using French words. “J’ai joué au jeux de video,” one of my classmates had said (I played video games). “Quel jeu vidéo?” my French teacher remarked (what game?). After my classmate answered with more popular choices like Minecraft and Rocket League, my teacher added on, “J’adore Civilization 6.”  While we quickly moved on to reflexive verbs, the topic of the day, I was still surprised that a 6-year-old game could be ubiquitous. I had to quench that curiosity, so four months later, I started my first game.

Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 is a turn-based strategy game from the Civilization franchise. The player’s goal is to advance their early settlement through 9 eras across multiple millenia, growing into a prosperous civilization. There are 6 victory conditions; one is achieved through the domination of every other civilization, one is achieved from creating a rich and influential culture, one is achieved from spreading your civilization’s religion until it becomes dominant, and a few others revolve around technology and trade. While victory may sound simple, it can become overbearingly hard balancing all the different aspects of an empire. Not only do you need construct buildings to house residents and provide amenities, you also need landmarks and educational structures to boost culture and science, and on top of that you need to manage a fragile economy, diplomatic relations, and provide for a growing army. Early blunders can result in a weak civilization late-game, and not enough research can cause a millitary to be severely underpowered against advanced tanks, planes, and infantry. Perhaps the difficulty and thought required to succeed in this elaborate strategy game is what makes it appealing to history buffs and students alike.

Several leasons can be learned form the game. In the atomic era, nuclear bombs are unlocked. A normal nuclear device would completely obliterate a tile, as well as leavve nucelar fallout in all the surrounding tiles. Meanwhile, a thermonuclear strike would destroy a 9 tile region, and make the surrounding 27 uninhabitable for a millennia. Because a nuclear war between two heavily armed nations could obliterate the entire map, it teaches civilzation to avoid large scale violence if npossible. Playing as Alexander the Great, other lessons that came up were to avoid foreign conflict were, don’t spread troops too thin, and destroy the Aztecs as early as possible.

Having conquered half of Europe now with no plans of stopping, I truly believe that moving troops across a screen is a form of therapy. Seeing the beautiful animations, the barbarians being scorched from the earth, and the difference you could make in a virtual landscape, Civilization 6 provides something classrooms do not; the ability to learn history by experiencing it.