Civilization IV: Colonization Called 'Morally Disturbing'

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Civilization IV: Colonization Called 'Morally Disturbing'

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The recently announced Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization has raised some eyebrows at Variety's Cut Scene blog, where writer Ben Fritz calls the game mind-boggling and "morally disturbing."

"Goddammit, am I the only one who thinks it's morally disturbing to make a game that celebrates COLONIZATION?" Fritz said in the article. Describing information he was given about the original Sid Meier's Colonization, released in 1994, Fritz says at first he took it for a joke. "But sure enough, it was real," he said. "However, I dismissed it as a relic from a time when neither developers nor players took videogames seriously as media with moral implications."

"But the idea that 2K and Firaxis and Sid Meier himself would make and release a game in the year 2008 that is not only about colonization, but celebrates it by having the player control the people doing the colonizing is truly mind boggling," he continued.

Fritz compared the situation to the uproar surrounding a Resident Evil 5 promotional trailer which showed African zombies being cut down by the game's white protagonist. Quoting Newsweek journalist N'Gai Croal, who said the imagery in the trailer was "messed up," Fritz said a game about colonization is 100 times more messed up. "Throughout history, colonization regularly involved stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and the exploitation or decimation of native people," he added. "Anybody with a shred of moral conscience who studies the history will be appalled. Whether it was British rule in India or slavery in Africa or Aboriginal children kidnapped and taken to Christian schools in Australia or the dislocation of Native Americans in the U.S., there were no positive colonization experiences."

He also decried the game's inherent racism, which he said is one of the underlying principles behind every colonization effort in human history. "The obvious comparison that springs to my mind would be if somebody released a game called Civilization IV: Confederacy, in which players have to 'lead a proud people to defend their values and traditions against their oppressive neighbors to the north,'" he said. Such a game may not require players to own and abuse slaves, but defense of the Confederacy is by default a defense of slavery, he claimed.

Fritz said he's not calling for a ban on the game, emphasizing that 2K has every right to release it for sale. "But I think personally they shouldn't release it, if it's at all what it appears to be based on the early marketing," he continued. "And I'm hoping a lot of people agree with me and will say so publicly."

2K announced Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization, a standalone expansion to the hit strategy game Sid Meier's Colonization IV, in early June.

Permalink

"Morally Disturbing"? Seriously, WTF?

Seriously, WTF?

/signed

Content = condonation?

Ultimately, there was nothing unique - either for good or evil - in Europe's colonization of the New World.

Colonization has occurred since the dawn of human history. When the Sea Peoples landed in the Fertile Crescent, when the Vandals settled in North Africa, when the Seljuk Turks took over Asia Minor, when Anglo-Saxons colonized Celtic Britain, and the Normans invaded Anglo-Saxon England, when the Moors colonized Spain, it was colonization, and there was "stealing, killing, abuse, deceit, and exploitation." These practices have been the norm of human history. But there was also dynamic growth, cultural exchange, inter-marriage, and rich blossoming of art, music, language, and technology. The beautiful English language is richer for the mixing of French and German roots. Wonderful Spanish culture is richer for the existence of Andalusia.

Fritz claims "there were no positive colonization experiences" but provides no evidence to back this up. The creation of the longest-lasting democratic republic in history in North America is not a positive colonization experience? The unification of India under rule of law and democracy and the end of Sutee in the Indian sub-continent was not a positive colonization experience? The creation of Hellenistic culture and the spread of philosophy and language throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Minor was not a positive colonization experience? Of course some positives occurred from colonization. (If I were a utilitarian I could probably even make the argument that it led to a net positive in human welfare, but I won't).

Nor is there anything inherently racist in colonization, except insofar as one ascribes all tribal-national behavior to "racism", which would be a foolish ex poste application of a modern moral notion onto our ancestors. Were the (white) Normans racist towards the (white) Anglo-Saxons? Of course not. No moreso than the Theban Sacred Band were "gay". Racism as we understand it today arose only in the context of a society that had first formulated the notion of "equality of man" - a very recent phenomenon - that enabled one to judge a person as morally evil for disagreeing with the equality of man. Up until then, suggesting that a person was a "racist" for favoring his tribe or people over that of another would simply be laughed at. Tribal-national thinking was, and is, the norm in the pre-Enlightenment world. The Aztec culture that the Spanish colonists displaced wasn't "racist" and wouldn't have known what the word meant. It captured and ritually sacrified other tribes' peoples and thought that was a moral good!

Throughout mankind's history, every invading and conquering nation has considered itself superior to the group which it conquered and displaced, and they didn't require modern notions of racism to do so. They knew they were better because they had won. "Right of conquest" has a far older and longer resonance than Wilson's 14 Points.

If Fritz wants to condemn Civilization: Colonization, he needs to condemn as well the entirety of the Civilization franchise, Medieval Total War, Rome Total War, every 4X strategy game ever made, and probably most grand strategy games set prior to World War I. Otherwise, let's just accept there's no moral difference between sending Pilgrims to colonize Plymouth and sending Romans to colonize Gaul, and move on.

Last time I checked, there was nothing inherently evil or immoral about colonization, it's not the concept's fault that it tends to go wrong...

And I'm sick of hearing abot the RE5 thing, too. Apparently killing undead is only fine morally if the zombie happens to be white? Give me a break, I understand if the reason people find it in bad taste is because of the atrocities in Darfur, but the reasons I usually hear involve simply race.

from wiki

Destroying native settlements yields a quick profit and makes land available, but prevents the substantial long-term gains to be made by friendly bargaining and trading. Destruction of native settlements also counts against your final score.

seems to me like the history of whiping out indiginous people is being discouraged, while still allowing for historical accuracy. +1 for Sid Meier, What does Fritz want us to do? re-write history?

Why would Colonization be any more disturbing that Civilization? I have to think that this author has actually never played either. And come to think of it, he could well have been traumatized by the board game Risk when he was a child.

Either that, or when viewing the blurb about Colonization, he was overcome by a sense of European-American guilt because this particular iteration of the common conquer-the-world-via-your-computer theme involved what he believes HIS ancestors did that was not so nice. In that case, this author may want to check out Galactic Civiliations or Alpha Centauri or Sins of a Solar Empire where he can happily conquer and subjugate others without historical referents. Or, who knows? Maybe he'd just be happier in Webkinz world...

Ranty Time:

Oh for fucks sake... COLONIZATION IS HISTORY, IT HAPPENED, DEAL WITH IT! Argh! it's not like the game is going "YAY SUBJIGATION OF NATIVE PEOPLES!" just like Medieval Total War wasn't like "Yay, Burn Heretics!" pretending "bad stuff never happened" is fucking moronic.

Rant Over.

The History Major rage in me is quelled.

Archon:
Ultimately, there was nothing unique - either for good or evil - in Europe's colonization of the New World.

Fritz claims "there were no positive colonization experiences" but provides no evidence to back this up. The creation of the longest-lasting democratic republic in history in North America is not a positive colonization experience? The unification of India under rule of law and democracy and the end of Sutee in the Indian sub-continent was not a positive colonization experience? The creation of Hellenistic culture and the spread of philosophy and language throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia Minor was not a positive colonization experience? Of course some positives occurred from colonization. (If I were a utilitarian I could probably even make the argument that it led to a net positive in human welfare, but I won't).

Spoken like a true and devoted eurocentric. Just as you've taken the time here to analyze and critique Fritz's position, surely you must be aware that the full extent of his understanding of colonialism wasn't expressed in his diatribe against Civilization IV. Anyone can argue that SOME good came out of ANY negative experience - like, depending on who you talk to, the founding of Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Does that make all of the events surrounding the Holocaust a "net positive gain"? Give me a break. You're probably the same person who would argue that sweatshops are ultimately beneficial to the people working one tier above slave labor, because without those shops they'd have even less money.

It is in fact, "morally disturbing" to even discuss the subjugation or annihilation of any peoples within the context of "net gains". Civilization IS a video game, but when talking about actual real life history, it seems perverse to me to discuss things as if by some sort of points system. There ARE no "net gains" when a people have been annihilated, as in the case of the natives of the Americas after European colonization.

And you talk about the positive outcomes of the British colonization of India without mentioning all of the negatives. For all your criticisms of Fritz ignoring the "net gains", YOU yourself ignore the obvious negatives.

As a brief mention to any FOOL - history major or not (and your background means nothing in this discussion) - who passes over the atrocities of history as things that just "happened" and need to be "gotten over", is obviously a member of some privileged class who has never had to contend with the detriments of any sort of historical legacy. It is always the people who stood to benefit from colonization - either directly as it was occurring, or from the wealth or status amassed on that foundation - who can so easily dismiss history as "just something that happened".

In the end, Civilization is just a game, and perhaps Fritz is wrong in thinking that games should not address history - it DID happen, after all - but he is not wrong to point out the game's unilateral (i.e. pro-colonial) perspective. That any of you would use this as an excuse to justify colonialism speaks to your own perverse understanding of the world.

The real mystery here is why the hell does this man have a video game blog?

The unilateralism of the scenario, in which the game takes place, shows a definite cultural imperialism. Just as CivIV offered the choice to play as one of many different cradles of civilization, why doesn't Colonization offer the chance to play as other great colonial empires? Instead it focuses on the fairly recent colonization of the New World, the effects of which are still profoundly, and painfully, felt in South America and the few Native American reservations left in North America.

It is also troubling that the original game, and perhaps this is being addressed in the new one, avoids the issue of slavery entirely. To ignore the fact that the new world was built on the backs of African and indigenous slaves amounts to a cultural sugar coating of one of the most painful realities Americans have had to deal with.

If Civilization IV really wanted to make its mark in the field it should offer a companion expansion called Subjugation, wherein you play as a Native American or African American who finds themselves repeatedly displaced and denied the opportunities Europeans have. There could be disease trees instead of tech trees, with the eventual goal of the game being to successively marry out of your race/ethnicity until you can finally be mistaken as a European and be entitled to all the benefits that come with that designation.

The battle over the merits and demerits of Western colonization has been going on in academia since the end of formal colonialism in the 1950s and 1960s.

If one defines colonialism in the broadest sense, of one culture or value system or tribe extending its territorial reach, then of course, it is impossible not to find merits here and there throughout history.

But colonialism, located within a historical context as Western colonialism in the last 500 years - can this be considered a net positive?

The problem with tallying up gains from said colonialism is that the exercise inherently assumes the indigenous people would never have made these - or even greater gains - themselves sooner or later. It also underestimates the long-term effects of interference.

For instance, British colonization of India did end Suttee - but British tax and agricultural policy also resulted in starvation of millions of Indians. The British also exacerbated - note that I did not say 'invented' - antagonisms between Muslims and Hindus in India as part of a divide and conquer strategy. The result was the 1947 partition along religious lines, during which hundreds of thousands died in migration.

At any rate, the goal of Western colonization was not to lift up the natives, although that rationale was often invoked while natural capital and labor was plundered. Occasionally, Western powers established institutions in the colonies, not out of generosity, but because they expected to control the country by grooming native elite classes to oppress their own populations. More often though the societies were simply left in tatters, like Belgium's role in the Congo and Portugal's role in other African states.

The long-term results of most Western colonization have actually been quite disastrous. Specifically, the creation of artificial states through arbitrary boundaries - ones that did not recognize ethnic and tribal realities, but were concocted so the great powers could carve up natural resources - has been disastrous. It is the kindle that has set aflame sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East in endless sectarian struggles, to the tune of millions of lost lives since the 19th century. (Think: Israel and the Arabs, Iraq, Hutu versus Tutsis, etc.)

Godheval:
Anyone can argue that SOME good came out of ANY negative experience - like, depending on who you talk to, the founding of Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Does that make all of the events surrounding the Holocaust a "net positive gain"? Give me a break. You're probably the same person who would argue that sweatshops are ultimately beneficial to the people working one tier above slave labor, because without those shops they'd have even less money.

Get the pitchforks! I think we've got a straw man! And one step closer to fulfilling Godwin's Law, at post 10! What progress...

Philosophical question: if a straw man flames, does he catch on fire?

It is in fact, "morally disturbing" to even discuss the subjugation or annihilation of any peoples within the context of "net gains". Civilization IS a video game, but when talking about actual real life history, it seems perverse to me to discuss things as if by some sort of points system. There ARE no "net gains" when a people have been annihilated, as in the case of the natives of the Americas after European colonization.

Morally disturbing, certainly. Rationally though? Everything is relative. The outcome for the Native Americans of European colonialization? Negative. The outcome for me? (Arguably) positive. If there were some way to add them together, you might end up with some sort of net (negative, or positive).

In discussing the use of atomic weapons on Japan, is it perverse to discuss the outcome in terms of lives lost versus lives that might've been lost had more traditional warfare been used? And better yet to evaluate the event in terms of lives lost had a completely peaceful resolution been reached. Why is that metric not useful? If we don't have anything as convenient as "lives", might we not use something more subjective, like "points" (to account for intangibles)?

If anything, Archon says he won't analyze it in a utilitarian manner, and then uses the term "net", which implies that he's doing addition/subtraction on some basis. Maybe better to rephrase your thoughts, and discuss the "gains" of various colonizations/annexations, rather than the "net gains", which implies the losses were made up for.

Yet another media douchebag that can't help but cause a stir over a game he's never played.

I think we should be emailing Sid Meier and asking him if he payed this guy for ad space on his blog. Really, don't we all know about the Streisand effect by now?

Meh, let him complain, I mean, he's got the right. But why don't people try and become more informed before they do something like this? Trying to cause a moral outrage like that is just stupid.

And whilst were talking about this topic, decrying what happens when "whitey" reigns supreme, we must also spare a thought for the white farmers who were run from their homes or murdered by the Zimbabwe regime.

Colonization is a required part of history it led to where we are today.

If they release a slave trade simulator then he has a point but not in this case

electric discordian:
And whilst were talking about this topic, decrying what happens when "whitey" reigns supreme, we must also spare a thought for the white farmers who were run from their homes or murdered by the Zimbabwe regime.

Colonization is a required part of history it led to where we are today.

If they release a slave trade simulator then he has a point but not in this case

Tell you what, buddy...when the general public (and by this I mostly mean so-called "white America") acknowledges the legacy of colonialism and slavery - be it just in general conversation outside the academic sphere, or in the content of a video game - then I'll be open to discussing the merits of a game about the plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe.

But honestly, from a gamer's perspective, that sounds pretty boring. Unless of course those farmers find a hidden cache of ASSAULT WEAPONS and get to go all Master Chief on those black bastards! Now that'd be EN-TER-TAIN-MENT!

I always find it hilarious when people want to dismiss racism or subjugation with one side of their mouth, then try to turn to tables and mention RARE instances of white disenfranchisement or subjugation out of the other side.

White people suffer from racism too! White people have been subjugated, too! Well no shit, and no one suggests otherwise, but looking at things from a global perspective, those instances are few and far between, and their lasting effects are mostly trivial if not altogether negligible (obviously not in the case of the Zimbabwean farmers).

So following this line of thinking, let's skip over any games that might address the atrocities of French colonialism in Haiti and have a game focusing on the plight of the woeful wealthy French who had to find a new home after being kicked out. It could be an epic tale of looking for a place to belong - kicked out of your home and culturally removed from the land of your ancestors. It would be downright heart wrenching!

Colonization happened, and this game had nothing to do with it and can't possibly lead to anything like the real thing. The _game_ is fun. It also reveals how easy economics become when the cost of inputs can be reduced to zero or balanced against each other, and shows what you have to do to achieve that unsustainable sort of stasis that exists with a triangle trade. The game is also not solely about subjugating indigenous populations. It's possible to assimilate in a non-violent manner; it's still a form of subjugation, sure, but it's not the bloody kind and at least it's an option. Placing the option for, or "forcing", reprehensible behavior in a game is a valid form of ethical exploration and preferable by far to attempting to model the same thing in the real world. Eliciting a reaction in the player over such things is a valid form of ethical demonstration, if one chooses to consume it that way.

If BioWare gets lauded for presenting basically a false choice over killing the Little Sisters, why does this game get punched (by someone who admits THEY DIDN'T EVEN PLAY IT, just like Jack Thompson) over presenting a hypothetical recreation of actual historical human behavior? Oregon Trail let you choose to kill the Indians or trade with them. The same exists in this game. There is no "Smallpox laden blanket" item that enables some of the most heinous behavior of the colonizing European powers. But, the colonization of the new world is still viewable as a contest between powers over resources that could not be held by force by the indigenous population living on it. A simulation of the human condition is not responsible for that condition, just like a movie depicting rape does not necessarily lead to rape. This isn't Montezuma's Revenge we are talking about.

So, first things first: Play the damn game before you condemn it. That's the first rule of criticism, I was led to understand. Second, quit using video games as a vehicle for accusations of thoughtcrime if you consider yourself a supporter of the medium. There is no third point.

I think people are missing out on the important point that this is a game. It has no bearing on real life and I really doubt anyone playing it 20 years later if in some form of power would say 'Hey! You know what was great? Colonization!'. We as a population are trying to be way to 'politically correct' it's a game, it's not trying to make a racially abusive statement it's trying to be fun. And as the Medieval/Rome/Shogun total war series has shown, a lot of people like the campaign/RTS style of gameplay that these games offer

If people may be offended by material in a game then it diserves to be disscused, however complaing about 'colonization' in a strategy game is the same as complaining about 'rape' in a drama novel.

The fact is the latter would never be subject to such critisism, we just need to explain to mr Ben Fritz that hes wrong, and then laugh at him for being suck a fucking idiot.

...Was he high?

another idiot whos just insulting games without knowing anything about them using small amounts of facts to denounce the game while also keeping any evidince to the contray firmly under the carpet,

Godheval:

White people suffer from racism too! White people have been subjugated, too! Well no shit, and no one suggests otherwise, but looking at things from a global perspective, those instances are few and far between, and their lasting effects are mostly trivial if not altogether negligible (obviously not in the case of the Zimbabwean farmers).

This kind of statement is exactly what makes it so hard for we liberals interested in truth and justice to get our point across. When people bring up "White people suffer from racism too! White people have been subjugated, too!" they're not testing whether you are aware of those facts--they are testing whether your arguments are based on something noble and just.

And you just failed that test.

When you crash into a thread calling everyone names, well, what the hell do you really think you're doing? Nothing you've said is going to do anything but preach to the choir--and even some of us in the choir think you're talking bitter nonsense.

+++

I will however, say that the colonization of the western hemisphere in this period was a unique historical event. Really these are the first true 'colonies' in world history I'm aware of. In the case of the Greeks/Romans/Mongols/Chinese/Aztecs/etc. the aim was something along the lines of ruling the conquered peoples as a client state, or to integrate them into the empire proper. The colonization of the western hemisphere at this time was a combination of religious friction and Mercantilist economic theory which resulted in a type of 'colony' unique in world history.

If this period of colonization is comparable to anything, it would be either the Crusades, or Greek and Phonecian expansion in the Mediterranean. Even those comparisons are problematic.

+++

Let's face it: the game _Colonization_ is not really about the colonization of the western hemisphere at all. It is about the birth of nationalism. You don't win the game by wiping out the Natives or covering the land mass with colonies or exploding your population to some specific number. You win by getting your Sons of Liberty membership up and Declaring Independence and winning a Revolutionary War before some other European power can do so.

That is why Ben Fritz is a total moron. He doesn't even understand the game he's criticizing. I wonder if he thinks it's also horrible to make him take intelligence tests where he's forced to try and shove Eurocentric imperialist square pegs into defenseless, innocent round holes.

Lol. Attention whore with a video game blog.

Godheval:

electric discordian:
And whilst were talking about this topic, decrying what happens when "whitey" reigns supreme, we must also spare a thought for the white farmers who were run from their homes or murdered by the Zimbabwe regime.

Colonization is a required part of history it led to where we are today.

If they release a slave trade simulator then he has a point but not in this case

Tell you what, buddy...when the general public (and by this I mostly mean so-called "white America") acknowledges the legacy of colonialism and slavery - be it just in general conversation outside the academic sphere, or in the content of a video game - then I'll be open to discussing the merits of a game about the plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe.

But honestly, from a gamer's perspective, that sounds pretty boring. Unless of course those farmers find a hidden cache of ASSAULT WEAPONS and get to go all Master Chief on those black bastards! Now that'd be EN-TER-TAIN-MENT!

I always find it hilarious when people want to dismiss racism or subjugation with one side of their mouth, then try to turn to tables and mention RARE instances of white disenfranchisement or subjugation out of the other side.

White people suffer from racism too! White people have been subjugated, too! Well no shit, and no one suggests otherwise, but looking at things from a global perspective, those instances are few and far between, and their lasting effects are mostly trivial if not altogether negligible (obviously not in the case of the Zimbabwean farmers).

So following this line of thinking, let's skip over any games that might address the atrocities of French colonialism in Haiti and have a game focusing on the plight of the woeful wealthy French who had to find a new home after being kicked out. It could be an epic tale of looking for a place to belong - kicked out of your home and culturally removed from the land of your ancestors. It would be downright heart wrenching!

I am not from White America I am from Britain who was one of the worst colonial powers in the world! I feel you are rather trivialising the plight of those who are suffering. To be honest I dont want to paint myself into a corner and sound even vaguely racist.

People are revolting to other people, it's swings and roundabouts it is a factor of the human condition and has little to do with race or national identity, it's down to money and the use of human life as a resource.

Having said all that its just a game, come back to me when they come up with virtual concentration camp.

Archon:

If Fritz wants to condemn Civilization: Colonization, he needs to condemn as well the entirety of the Civilization franchise, Medieval Total War, Rome Total War, every 4X strategy game ever made, and probably most grand strategy games set prior to World War I. Otherwise, let's just accept there's no moral difference between sending Pilgrims to colonize Plymouth and sending Romans to colonize Gaul, and move on.

There's actually a huge moral difference by which I'll make the same point you are, only a fortiori: Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims. Native Americans even welcomed Peter Minuit 'buying' Manhattan Island. They just thought that these new people showing up intended to simply become fellow beneficiaries of the landmass held in an inalienable trust designed to continue in perpetuity. The lack of morality in the Pilgrims wasn't even that they wanted to start a colony, it's the kind of colony they started.

+++

In fact, the foundations of the modern liberal welfare state were laid when Native Americans, the people who had lived in America for generations shared their food with the Pilgrims, a bunch of immigrants who showed up with no capacity to survive themselves and spoke only a foreign language. And that's the story of Thanksgiving.

I have played the original Colonization too many days and nights to count. Many moons ago when it was almost 'underground' to have a strange game like Colonization on your computer to play. I found it interesting that even with the limitations of the game in general, just how honest it was about the colonization of what is now called the USA. The game of course said nothing about their (fun loving) canadian Neighbors to the north, but was straight forward about a couple of realities.

This game placed me a young teen (as I was at the time) into the possition to sit down and actually think about what I would do in some questionable situations. and not only what I would do, I also found out (sorta) how I would feel. Do I slay the natives, or preach at them to death? Do I cause domestic unrest and risk war (which was always HARD) with my englishman roots, or just continue jerkin around and failing to accomplish what was sitting waiting to happen. The inevitable.

Independence.

Its funny how if it really happened many moons ago, we are only to remember those that layed it on the line to have what we have now, and to never remember the crap we did to accomplish it.

I believe its called censorship. Makes things look pretty. Problem is, you need a reason for everything. If we arent to speak the truth of history (as best we can) then is history to be written as a lie?

Pink bunnies came and built us everything we need! YEAH!

Anyway, an updated version of this game is good blood for the young ones. Even the embarrasing parts of our past help us learn to steer into the future. Censorship got us NOWHERE. Except pink bunnies. They rock. Need more of them guys. Love 'em!

(edit)

tendo82:

The unilateralism of the scenario, in which the game takes place, shows a definite cultural imperialism. Just as CivIV offered the choice to play as one of many different cradles of civilization, why doesn't Colonization offer the chance to play as other great colonial empires? Instead it focuses on the fairly recent colonization of the New World, the effects of which are still profoundly, and painfully, felt in South America and the few Native American reservations left in North America.

Simple--the game _Colonization_ isn't about "great colonial empires" and it doesn't focus on "on the fairly recent colonization of the New World"; it's about the historical events leading to the American Revolution.

It's no different than how in _Civilization_ it doesn't matter if you play as the Sumerians or the Mongols you still expand from a single city-state, even though the Eurasian steppe wasn't exactly "one of many different cradles of civilization" and the idea of a 'fat cross' really doesn't capture how a pastoral nomad society works.

Sure the effects of colonization are "still profoundly, and painfully, felt in South America and the few Native American reservations left in North America." However, plenty of Native Americans consider themselves American; Latin America prizes its writers that use the language of their former European masters just like the Irish love how it took an Irishman--Joyce--to teach them how to use their own language.

Your characterization of the full impact of colonization isn't one shared in large part by the colonized, at least according to my impressions of how Native Americans have come to view their identity as Canadian/American citizens, and how the countries of Latin America view their national histories.
(end edit)

It is also troubling that the original game, and perhaps this is being addressed in the new one, avoids the issue of slavery entirely. To ignore the fact that the new world was built on the backs of African and indigenous slaves amounts to a cultural sugar coating of one of the most painful realities Americans have had to deal with.

I never saw that as a big problem for the reasons I also give in comment 23: _Colonization_ the game is not a colonization simulation: it's a game where you try and build a colony up to the point you can break away from the mother country. I don't think it was ever left out to 'sugar coat' the game; instead I think it was left out because slavery didn't play a large part in the 13 English colonies forming an identity that constitutes basically the beginning of Nationalism as an ideology.

Plenty was left out of _Colonization_ for the sake of gameplay: ever notice there's no provision for Canada in _Colonization_, that there's Sons of Liberty membership in all your colonies and they all join in declaring Independence? That even if you play as the Spanish and go all conquistador you still can build Universities and train Elder Statesmen? That the English and Dutch can send out Jesuit Missionaries? That the French can encourage emigration by Firebrand Preachers? There's a lot of history left out of these games because whatever European power you play as, the game is geared towards getting you to win by emulating the experience of the historical 13 colonies of Kobol British North America--the game was never interested in exploring alternate history beyond the bonuses and penalties given to each European power. And slavery doesn't play the huge part in that story.

I mean, it is after all a *game*: what exactly is the historical justification for an indentured servant taking up muskets and becoming a dragoon, winning a battle, and somehow becoming a free colonist, ya know? In fact, considering the game lasts hundreds of years, why do indentured servants stay indentured? Shouldn't their offspring be free? And why don't people have sex unless there's like 300 food in the colony warehouse?

Who knew _Colonization_ left out the slavery, but kept in the Malthus!

I think slavery should be kept out for those two reasons. One, it would be problematic to include in a game that's always been so highly abstracted (why exactly can I move a Slave Colonist from one colony to another without compensating the old owner? What if I move a Slave Colonist north--does that trigger a Dredd Scott event?). Two, it would take away from what made the game *fun*. The fun is building colonies, selling goods, harvesting resources, and fighting wars. It doesn't really add any 'fun' to the game to distinguish Slave Colonists from Indentured Servants, just like it doesn't add any fun to _Civilization_ to allow Hitler to command those Panzer UUs instead of Bismarck or Fredrick. Sid Meier is always talking about making sure everything he puts into a game gives a player a meaningful choice.

Slavery...not so meaningful a choice in a game that's supposed to be about creating a new nation, at least given the sophistication of the original game. Maybe there will be a way of including it in the new game, but, my guess is that it'll wind up being ahistorical in that you'll quickly discard it because the victory conditions push you to model your colonies on Massachusetts, not Georgia. Like I said: the funny thing about _Colonization_ is that it's not a game about colonization; it's a game about colonies declaring Independence based on nationalist ideology (and I guess to an extent the philosophy of Adam Smith once you get the Thomas Paine FF)

Then again, _Civilization_ was never about building, literally, cities: it was about getting to Alpha Centauri! And _Railroad Tycoon_ was always as much about being a Stock Tycoon as laying down rail. That's...why Sid Meier games are awesome I've started to realize while writing this. Simulation games are only really fun if they are also wargames or sports games, unless they stray into 'toy' territory like SimCity. He takes really interesting historical developments other than war like the growth of civilization, railroads, and colonization and makes all those things the tools by which you accomplish some other goal, be it space colonization/getting rich/declaring independence. Rather than make a simulation to represent history, he makes games that capture history by nailing down history as change-over-time. What a simple, but brilliant idea. Rather than make historically accurate SimCities on a larger scale, make games that capture the change-over-time element of history because that's what is really fun in anything but a hardcore wargame.

Now there's an article someone should write: the historical philosophy of Sid Meier, some combination of the Whig interpretation of history combined with history as the narrative of change-over-time.

+++

This is maybe a little off topic, but institutional, plantation slavery in the 13 colonies/America suffers from a lot of propaganda on the part of people who want to make it seem like slavery was constantly in decline in America and there was no reason to fight the Civil War. The historical reality is that slavery was on the decline until the beginnings of the industrial revolution where large plantations finally made economic sense for the first time since the end of the Roman Empire. Slavery wasn't going anywhere in America in 1861 but north and west into states and territories that had previously been free and played a much bigger part in American history during the 19th century than it did during the timeframe of _Colonization_.

I think the effect of that propaganda put out there by people who have an ax to grind over the Civil War has had a large effect on our opinions about slavery in historical context, as by and large the Union won the war while the Confederacy won the peace, at least until the 1960s. But that's another discussion ;-D

Argh! Another critic with his head up his arse! There is only a link to the crap he is spewing if they make a bull-shit bridge to reach the other side, far, far away! In a way colonisation is a good thing! If colonisation didn't happen the US wouldn't be what it is today, or Australia! Things are quite underhanded when a new group of people move in, thats life, get used to it!

The resident evil 5 harrasing is going on too much as well! Thats where the dude decided to go, Africa, would you expect a bunch of middle class white peolpe walking around saying "Good day Sir!", as they lift there hat in acknowledgement?

The funny thing is, what about RE4? That was basicaly shooting the spanish! Even worse the plot of that game was as far from the RE true plot line than ever before!

RetiarySword:

The funny thing is, what about RE4? That was basicaly shooting the spanish! Even worse the plot of that game was as far from the RE true plot line than ever before!

Ah but you're forgetting they were white! Which makes turning them into mindless zombies completely fine!

OK, the above was sarcastic I'm not trying to plead that white people face just as much discrimination because they don't I'm trying to make a point that we are just way too politically correct.

Wait, I'm confused. It's morally offensive to colonize new lands in a birdseye view of a fictional version of the real world, but it's cool to hire, utilize, stab and rob a hooker in a fictional new york? Not that anything is wrong with GTA4 (I loves it myself) but if you're going to complain about the moral grounds on which a game falls, shouldn't you hop a more clearcut bandwagon game? Is Civ4 going to encourage me to go out and subjugate my neighbors?

I mean I played Overlord in which my fictional evil(hero) guy and his army of goblins went out and wreaked comic mischief and death upon the fantasy style inhabitants of a world. In concept isn't that just as immoral? Or what about shooting demons in doom? I mean they have a right to exist don't they? It's all well and good that I thwarted their invasion of Phobos, but by invading hell and killing them there, didn't I displace an indigenous people whose only crime was being related by species to the people who invaded a space colony I was on?
Where were your Objections when I played Pirates and sunk Spanish Galleons to steal the gold they stole from the people of south America? Or when I played red dead revolver and shot Indians and outlaws? We can't discount the millions of Goombas or Koopa Troopas I've slaughtered either. Those poor, poor Goombas. Is it their fault that a member of their government committed a crime? Come to think of it, I remember throwing bowser into Lava on numerous occasions. Does kidnapping really warrant the death penalty? By God these are all morally disturbing!

Worst of all I think is Pikmin, a series of game in which the player character (Olimar) invades a world, enslaves the local inhabitants and uses them to rebuild his ship and strip the planet of natural resources. In the second one he leads a team back to further enslave the locals and profit off of the resources of the planet, nevermind how many of the little local creatures are killed in the process! His efforts end up drastically changing the ecosystem by altering the food chain! Morally disturbing? I think so.

jthm:

Worst of all I think is Pikmin, a series of game in which the player character (Olimar) invades a world, enslaves the local inhabitants and uses them to rebuild his ship and strip the planet of natural resources. In the second one he leads a team back to further enslave the locals and profit off of the resources of the planet, nevermind how many of the little local creatures are killed in the process! His efforts end up drastically changing the ecosystem by altering the food chain! Morally disturbing? I think so.

That's so true, we should start a society for the Protection of Pikmin Opressed by Olimar (PPOO).
Also, shouldn't this guy look at the games 'Europa Universalis'? One of the options given to a unit is to 'kill natives' when attempting to colonize new lands.

I think it'll be very interesting if one of a few possible endings happen:

1) The Native Americans take over.
2) The Americas decide to accept English/French/Dutch/Spanish rule. (It was a real possibility back in the day)
3) Islam, Buddhism or any of the other religions that were around take hold.

Now that would take a step away from "morally disturbing" and into "morally interesting".

And at least in Colo, you don't have nerve-stapling.

Cheeze_Pavilion:

This kind of statement is exactly what makes it so hard for we liberals interested in truth and justice to get our point across. When people bring up "White people suffer from racism too! White people have been subjugated, too!" they're not testing whether you are aware of those facts--they are testing whether your arguments are based on something noble and just.

And you just failed that test.

When you crash into a thread calling everyone names, well, what the hell do you really think you're doing? Nothing you've said is going to do anything but preach to the choir--and even some of us in the choir think you're talking bitter nonsense.

That is why Ben Fritz is a total moron. He doesn't even understand the game he's criticizing. I wonder if he thinks it's also horrible to make him take intelligence tests where he's forced to try and shove Eurocentric imperialist square pegs into defenseless, innocent round holes.

Oh really? I failed the test? Are you out of your mind? You REALLY think that when people downplay racism perpetrated by "white people" by saying that those same "white people" are also victims of racism, that their goal is to TEST whether or not others are truly in pursuit of truth and justice? Well, you accused me of calling people names even though I hadn't, but let me live up to that criticism now.

You, sir, are a douchebag - if you honestly believe the hogwash you wrote. The PURPOSE of citing racism against "white people" is to trivialize or at least dilute every other instance of racism, to "demonstrate" that it is not in any way uniquely felt by minorities. As if to say that white people also understand what minorities are "going through". And on that I call bullshit. NO white person understands the particulars of a non-white person's experience of discrimination, because there simply is no parallel. This is not to say that "white people" don't suffer, don't experience all sorts of injustices - I wouldn't dare make such a claim - but there is still a certain experience that they can and probably never will be able to internalize.

I am no obstacle to social liberalism. If anything, your comments are evidence of social liberalists' epidemic intellectual laziness. Perhaps they'll talk about the issues as a footnote, or with fad-like moral indignation, only to couch themselves in all the benefits of the very institutions they like to criticize as a hobby - you know, when there's nothing on TV.

Now, while there are those who cry racism or injustice at every turn, and indeed set up a sort of "cry wolf" scenario that can undermine the real battle against injustice, I am not one of those people. My criticism was of those who dismiss out of hand what Fritz had to say, as if it had no merit, or worse tried to justify colonialism in terms of "net gains". That is a far cry from what you're accusing me of...

I'd say more, but I really want to go back to my Chicken Noodle Soup... So maybe later.

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