Reddit: The never-ending video game

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Reddit user Lycerius has been playing the same game of Civilization 2 for the past 10 years, guiding his virtual people from the beginning of time to 3991 A.D. It didn’t turn out well:

The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation. There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands. 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.

Kelsey Atherton wonders why video games so often take place in post-apocalyptic settings:

Lycerius has plotted out the twin nightmares of the Cold War, both Orwellian and Apocalyptic.  The only reason given for this grim pursuit is a morbid curiosity in seeing the simulation through to it’s end. It’s that narrative, that fascinating pull through terrible consequences as viewed in a harmless media, as fleshed out through rigorous calculations and well-designed opponents, that makes games an ideal tool for seeing and plotting a way to, through, and out of the end times.

Alexis Madrigal explains why this specific Reddit post about Civ 2 has become an instant hit around the web:

I grew up playing the computer game Civilization and its successors. The games provide kids and adults alike with a playable introduction to world history: You come up with metallurgy, invent religions, discover the forms of government, war against neighboring countries, etcetera. When I was a kid, it felt like some expansive History of All Time, except that it was a turn-based computer strategy computer game. Which is why a 10-year game of Civilization II has struck a chord around the Internet today: if you could learn a history of western civ from the game, then its vision of the future feels oddly significant.

Reddit users are giving Lycerius advice on how to end the war. Alex Knapp summarizes:

The most commonly suggested tactic was for Lycerius to change his government to Fundamentalist (if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess). Then ally himself with one of the other nation states to wipe out the third. The primary problem with this tactic, though, is that according to Lycerius, the Vikings keep the Americans in a stalemate by using their Navy to constantly bombard American cities, for which the Americans have no response.

The original post now has its own subreddit, “The Eternal War.”

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