Civilization’s Sid Meier on gaming’s contribution to culture

Perhaps this dates me a bit, but Sid Meier’s Civilization was one of the first PC games I was absolutely addicted to.  I would spend countless hours creating and destroying cultures across thousands of years.  Some of my friends even turned it into a multiplayer game through controlling certain cities.  This turn based strategy game is over 20 years old now.  It seems like yesterday.    

We are currently on Civilization V, a solid stretch over the years. Comparing the graphics then to now is truly night and day.  Just in making this article I combed the internet and made some of my own screenshots from the original Civilization.  The nostalgia kicked in something heavy.  For that reason alone I’m going screenshot heavy in this article.

Regaining my focus, Cid Meier recently had an interview with CNN where he talked about the Civilization games.  I’ve always considered Meier as one of those gaming visionaries.  In the second half of the interview he talked about gaming’s influence on the last view decades.

Meier: Games have become the entertainment of choice for people all over the world. I've always said that games will someday take over the world and that seems to be happening. There are so many different gaming platforms and a constant stream of new games for players to enjoy in any way they choose.

It's exciting to see the rise of games in popular culture in the past few years. Now it seems that everyone plays games on their phones and social networks. Games and game franchises have become an integral part of mainstream entertainment, and the industry is only 30 years old. It's just the beginning of the greatness still to come.

There is definitely a growing gaming culture.  The people who play games have evolved out of a sort of minute group into something mainstream.  Sure your average person may not be a hardcore console player or spend hours on a MMO a day, but how many people play browser games or phone games on a daily basis?  I’d say a pretty large amount.

Meier: It's a little bit of the chicken and the egg debate, but I do think advancing technology has allowed us to explore new platforms and areas of games that we didn't previously have at our disposal.

Social and mobile games deliver a different kind of experience than the traditional PC and console games, which seem to appeal to a broader audience than the usual gamer. The growth of gaming on so many different platforms, and the diversity of the audience is great news for the gaming industry as a whole.

I agree completely with Meier.  The categorization of ‘gaming’ is quite broad and covers quite a range of entertainment.  While many people wouldn’t consider themselves ‘gamers,’ they still play video games.  Even the term gamer is vague.  No matter if you participate in video games or whatever you title yourself as, it is seems clear that video games have become a major role in society. 

On a final note, technology is advancing rapidly and thus video games and consoles are following this trend.  Better graphics and better technology to create games open up new experiences to game developers and gamers.  By no means are newer games ‘better’ than older classics, but the potential now exists to make a type of game that could not have even been imagined thirty years ago.   

Meier: Technology is always changing and giving us new tools to work with. PC and console game designers have been taking advantage of this by creating dramatically better graphics and deeper gameplay experiences. New technology has also allowed developers to deliver games on a wide array of devices, so people from all walks of life have access to games everywhere from phones to tablets to the Internet. It's a great time to be a gamer.

A great time to be a gamer indeed.