“I’ve been playing the same game of Civilization II for 10 years”

The other day, in a conference about video-games I co-organized in Lausanne, I instagramed this presentation by Brice Roy in which the game designer mentioned a game that can only be completed in 250 years. One of my contact (@carinaow) wondered about the very fact that “it’s longer than a lifetime” and that “nobody can vouch for it”. Sure, that’s quite big amount of time but the point of the game is to question the notion of trans-generational play.

250 years is certainly very long, especially for a digital program to continue its life on different generations of devices. However, this notion of “long play” is interesting as it’s close to another weak signal that caught my attention: the story of this guy who has been playing Civilization for ten years.

The guy said he grew fascinated with this particular game and that we wanted to see how far into the future he could get and what sort of ramifications he could encounter. Here are some excerpts of what he learnt doing this:

The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.
The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn’t a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway.

As a result, big cities are a thing of the distant past. Roughly 90% of the worlds population (at it’s peak 2000 years ago) has died either from nuclear annihilation or famine caused by the global warming that has left absolutely zero arable land to farm. Engineers (late game worker units) are always busy continuously building roads so that new armies can reach the front lines. Roads that are destroyed the very next turn when the enemy goes. So there isn’t any time to clear swamps or clean up the nuclear fallout.
You’ve heard of the 100 year war? Try the 1700 year war (…) Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons. Even when the U.N forces a peace treaty. So I can only assume that peace will come only when they’re wiped out.

Why do I blog this? These kinds of accounts of long-time play are so scarce that it’s great to find one of them. It would be so fascinating to watch a replay and see how a narrative of such play could be inscribed in book or movie, surely an intriguing project to be done.