I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again, remembering the hours, becoming days, becoming weeks lost as I struggled to build a virtual empire.
In my teens I played such games as Command & Conquer, Sim City 2000, and Settlers. There was a beauty in making my own little world and watching it grow. I even played Theme Park but I wasn’t interested in becoming the next (more liberal) Walt Disney even if you could make people sick (add lots of salt to the theme park’s burgers).
I started playing Civilisation but It never truly grabbed me, or to be more honest I never grabbed it. I would direct my civilisation to economic bliss only to have my centurions bombarded by an enemies F15’s. I would forge formidable armies only to have cities revolt about not having enough cheese. I went back to Sim City arguing that I preferred my war and economic sims to be kept separate as after all ‘who wants to talk politics when you’re building a swimming pool?’ then Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth appeared on the Steam store and I sat and stared at it.
Once again a creation of Sid Meier beckoned me with the chance to build my new world, but this time in space. Space! The word reverberated whilst the mass of Sci-Fi Master Works books I’d read offered up a mental montage of all the cool things future space could offer. I brought the game, and six hours later realised it was 4am and I had work in the morning. I haven’t played it since.
This weekend Steam offered a free two day trial of the turn based Strategy game Endless Legend. To put it simply Endless Legend is like Civilisation but with cool monsters, heroes, and a expanded battle system involving a battlefield.
To those of you who’ve never dipped your mouse fingers into the deep well of Civilisation (or Endless Legend) they are games where you build cities and using these cities (and their surrounding regions) resources build army units (like spearmen or as the years tick by tanks) to defend your city and invade others. These war/economic strategy games can be great fun, but like a complicated board game can take a few hours to master the basics even.
Once the free trial ended I was faced with a dilema: Do I buy this game? Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, I can build elven cities and giant tree ents, but i’d also have to figure out how to actually play it. Most 'civilisation-esk' strategy games have several ways to win (like complicated board games). These win conditions tend to be things like obtaining military dominance (killing everyone), achieving diplomatic victory (gaining peace and cash, lots of cash), or obtaining a technological victory. For example in Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth you could win the game by researching technology to a point where you could build a giant teleporter and start shipping in relatives from your home world. I pondered watching some YouTube tutorials and to be fair, in this age of video I’m sure some nice human has made a good video about how to play or, more importantly, make your tree ents wear little hats. Then I realised:
I don’t have time for this.
The thought shocked me.
I don’t have time for this.
Then I realised: I’ve matured as a gamer. Not in my choice to avoid Endless Legend as that's just my call, but that I realised that it's a type of game doesn’t fit my lifestyle. At present I’m trying to write an hour long stand up show, several scripts to finish, and a book to plan. Plus I really need to dust my lego. This means I can play games to relax but only really as reward for progress on my main hobbies.
When I was a kid I would play anything and I could because in each game, good or bad, there were things to explore. As an adult I have to focus my time to explore what I can then mine and use. Big, epic, and intricate games although fun take too much time and I end up feeling guilty I wasted a day trying to get a tree ent to wear a hat. But you know it was nice to spend some time with that tree ent and to marvel at the depths a game can reach. Maybe I’ll play it one day… once i’ve cleaned my Lego.
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