Playing Games with Technology: Fictions of Science in the Civilization Series

Slocombe, WG ORCID: 0000-0002-4350-102X
(2019) Playing Games with Technology: Fictions of Science in the Civilization Series. Osiris (Chicago): a research journal devoted to the history of science and its cultural influences, 34 (1). 158 - 174.

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This article investigates the ways in which the history of technology has been modeled in “4X strategy” games, especially in a series called Civilization (which comprises six games and expansions introduced from 1991 to 2016). Although there have been various studies interrogating the ideological biases in strategy games’ modeling of civilization and society, to date there has only been partial exploration of the ideological biases within their models of technological and scientific development involving “technology trees.” Moving from discrete analysis of individual instances of technology trees within strategy games, the aim of this article is to demonstrate not only the fundamental issues behind the notion of these trees in all of the Civilization games, but also to demonstrate ways in which they can reveal particular historicized perceptions of technologies over the period they were developed. This investigation furthermore reveals that many players of the games may bring assumptions embedded in their sense of the history of technology, and that these present a particular problem for those who might uncritically accept the games’ underlying axioms.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2018 09:56
Last Modified: 27 May 2022 11:38
DOI: 10.1086/703828
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