On Civilization and Facebook…

Despite what certain people argue, the Internet can be a wonderous tool—Bartering, critiquing, collaborating and writing the future trends of our world that will shape the minds of millions. But for the 95% of those not enlisted to such endeavors, the Web has evolved into the most efficient time killer ever created. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Trailers on Apple.com, they all serve the omnipresent need to…do something, even when there’s nothing to do. When I’m not brushing up on my internet meme knowledge on 4-chan or perusing the latest article on Cracked, I admit to checking in with Facebook like some virtual chaperon. It was innocent at first, but I sense my vigil towards the site, which has degraded into spurts of notice by use of my iPhone app, has turned into a vice grip around my usual rounds about the internet neighborhood.

But long before rick-rolling my friends and multiplayer frag sessions on Counterstrike took up most of my afternoons, there was Civilization…oh god was there Civilization. For many fans of the game, the mere whisper of it’s title sends shockwaves of euphoria through their brains, reigniting memories of gradual world domination through the use of treaties and machine guns. It was my addiction, my Evercrack before Everquest. It was one of the few games I can admit to sinking literally thousands of hours into playing before Heroes of Might and Magic came along. While current iterations of Civ. seems a little more graphic-friendly to catch the eye of new generations of gamers, the premise remains the same: start a civilization of people from square one, and take over the world. Like Othello, it was easy to learn, but near impossible to master.

Sid Meier’s announcement of merging a new Civilization with Facebook to surpass the likes of Mafia Wars or Farmville came with a slight wince of pain, however. While it will simplify the act of playing Civilization to keep the attention of today’s microscopic attention-span youth, I don’t find the idea of an easier Civilization game to be appealing. The title itself bears a god-term resemblance that encompasses countless ideas and opinions. Can something so massive be ground down into a series of Facebook pokes, comments, likes and dislikes? Do I have to ally with my fourteen year-old brother even if he’s still stuck in the bronze age? Should I nuke my ex-girlfriend’s profile for making out with that dude at the foam party?…not a bad idea actually, but I digress.

And what will this merge do to the sanctity of the Civilization name? While Facebook provides an easy way to stay in touch with college buddies, the vast majority of the site is devoted to minute-long diversions. Civilization is a cultural phenomenon that taught me the basics of political interplay, social stability and technological evolution. It taught us, in a rough manner of speaking, how we came to be the people we are today—should we risk tarnishing that experience for the sake of convenience? There are both positives and negatives to the argument, including the thrill of playing the game again since I haven’t touched it in almost two years, but I never imagined it would be through the machinations of a social networking website. But I suppose if it fails to strike the right chords with me, I can always go back to playing the real thing. Thankfully I can pause it and check Facebook every hour or so.

See you in the next level,

Gray

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