Games for Non-Gamers: Civilization

Humans are wired to play.

There is a game for every person, if you (or someone you know) hates games, it may be because that person just hasn’t found the right game OR something else made the game unpalatable. This series explores games for non-gamers. This week is Civilization.

Civilization, and it’s creator Sid Meier are legendary in the world of gaming. Civilization has been responsible for more sleepy office workers than about any other franchise… okay that’s probably an exaggeration. But I’m sure the line “One More Turn.” was coined during one of the earliest installments of this game.

Who is it for?

Non-Gamers who have said the following:

  • Games are stupid: there is no thought to them
  • I don’t think I like fast paced action.
  • I like to be challenged
  • I would want to spend some time on a game
  • Controllers are intimidating
  • I may want to play with someone, but maybe not.
  • I like making things from scratch, building things up the way I want to build them

What is it? The Game Defined for the Non-Gamer.

Civilization is a  “Turn Based Strategy” game. It’s a strategy (i.e. thinking) game where you take a turn, then the opponent, either the computer or a person, takes a turn. It’s basically a board game, turned into a videogame.  It’s also called a “god-Sim” (god-simulation) because you play as an omipotent being, or leader, and you control your people. Take care of your people, they prosper, don’t take care of them, they fail.

In this case, you don’t play as a god, but you play as a real life historical leader. Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln all get play as well as about a dozen others. The object of the game is to take over the world. This game is incredibly complex, however, so taking over the world might mean you become the dominant cultural force known to mankind. Or you may be the richest, or you may colonize another planet. Or you may just drop tons of nuclear weapons on your neighbours and walk all over them, the choice is yours. But there is no wrong way to really play or win this game.

Why Would Non-Gamers Enjoy This Game?

Turn based games are great for early gamers. They can sit and think before they do anything. They don’t need twitch reflexes (i.e. to be really good at moving a controller fast) in order to win the game. All they have to do is pay attention, and learn the rules of Civilization. Then have fun.

But while this game is slow on the second to second action, it is fast on the cognitive skills. It’s a thinking person’s game. It isn’t silly or dumbed down in any way. There is even a civilopedia that will give real life information on the leaders, Wonders, units and so on.

It’s also a game that real gamers play and love. If you want to start being one of the “in” crowd of gamers, this is a fine place to start. (Note: we’re not really all that cool…)

Advice for the Non-Gamer

You will need more cities than you think. In the beginning, if you city fills up to over 6 people: make a settler or a worker. I find cultural victories the easiest to get, but that’s because I tend to only have five HUGE cities that have every Wonder imaginable.

Other Ways to Make the Game Fun

This game is able to be played in multiplayer! That’s right, you can try to take over your buddies’ territory. Once you get the hang of the game, it’s always fun to play with people you know. The trick to on-line play, especially at first, is to play with people you actually know. The on-line gaming community is not known for being generous with new players.  If you are lost, and need a partner, post a comment and I may be able to hook you up with a Civ gaming buddy. No promises though. YellingAtPixels Favorite Pick

Before I self-identified as a gamer, I enjoyed playing Civilization a ton. Or as I told my husband “I’m going to take over the world.” Why? I enjoyed creating the Civilization. My favorite part of the game is playing until you discover other civilizations. Then I often started a new game.

Important Last Words

While games can be fun in and of themselves, it’s also important to have the right atmosphere. Every non-gamer is a unique individual, and can’t be described in a monolith.  All girls do NOT like pink and cute for instance. Listen to the non-gamer, to find out what she or he really enjoys. Try something out, get feedback, try again.

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  • Dan  On July 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Civilization Revolution is one of my favorite games! If you’re interested in learning how the game was made here’s a link to the Civ Rev Community Podcast on iTunes:

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