Colonialism is Fun? Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Gamification of Imperialism

This is the newest post in our fourth week of our roundtable on science fiction and imperial history, co-edited by Marc-William Palen and Rachel Herrmann. You can read our call for posts here, and the other posts in the series here, here, here, here, here, and here. Posts will run twice a week until the second week in July. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Nick Pullen
McGill University

If you were to tell the children and adults who first bought copies of legendary PC game designer Sid Meier’s Civilization in 1991 that they would still be playing some version of this classic game of imperial expansion almost thirty years later, they probably wouldn’t have believed you. Yet the record-breaking franchise, now in its sixth iteration, has continued to ensnare generations of PC gamers with its epic sweep, imaginative scope, and highly addictive turn-based gameplay that allows you to take an ancient empire to conquer the world—and then colonize the stars.

Yet Civilization’s staying-power also sits uncomfortably with an incipient opposition from those opposed to its imperial overtones, and provides a fascinating window into the persistent, underlying colonial assumptions of modern-day society. Continue reading “Colonialism is Fun? Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Gamification of Imperialism”