Sometimes Simple is Better
In this day and age, video gamers have so many choices. Companies spend billions of dollars a year trying to develop the most graphically advanced games they can. And yet, with simpler strategy games such as Sid Meier’s Civilization V, gamers can arguably input more hours of gameplay in those games than they can in any big name release.
Sometimes simple is better.
Civ V is a turn-based video game developed by Firaxis Games. In Civ, the player chooses a historical leader and leads their civilization from prehistoric times into the future. The end of the game is reached either when the player reaches the year 2050, or they achieve one of a number of different victories through research, exploration, diplomacy, expansion, economic development, government and military conquest.
It was released in September 2010, but with expansions in 2012 and 2013, the developers took an already addictive game and gave players even more ways to win and achieve their goals. What makes this simple (by comparison) strategy game so addictive?
One of the main reasons is that you are forced to think. Civ V is a strategy game, meaning you need to think about how you want to play the game and how you can achieve your victory. With most other video games, you follow a set story line and “win” the game when you complete the ending they have already thought out. However, Civ not only allows the player to decide how they would like to play the game, but their actions directly affect the final outcome.
For example, say the player wants to achieve through military conquest, they are going to have a much different experience and outcome in comparison to the player looking to win through science. The military player will probably have many cities they have taken and very little allies, while the science player could have the opposite. Being able to strategize and think about your play style makes for a more in-depth and engaging experience.
There is also the chance for surprises. Between the AI leaders and barbarians, players are constantly struggling to earn their victories while also responding to what’s around them. You can plan to build your knowledge and technology, but if you don’t have any military units, and France decides to declare war on you, then you’re kind of screwed.
Another reason simpler games can be better is because they are easier to put down and pick back up. When you are playing a game that’s very story-heavy, it’s hard to quit the game and return at a later time. It may take you awhile to get back into the story, or you may decide to start over in order to get reinvested in the game.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about the story and will play games again and again if the story intrigues me enough. But with games like Civ, it’s much easier to stop the game, leave for an hour and get right back into the gameplay without missing a beat. However, this is easily the reason why these types of games are so addictive.
It’s easier to keep going and going with a game when there is no end plot. When you do try to pull away, you find yourself saying, “Well, just one more turn…eh, maybe another turn. I swear I will stop after this turn!” Five hours later. “Mmmm…one more turn.” You are so invested in how you are playing the game and how you are going to win that you can’t pull yourself away.
Of course, with multiplayer you can drag your friends into the addiction as well. It’s easy enough to play against the computer. But when you are playing against your friends, it adds another level of play. Not only are you strategizing your next move, but you’re also able to think about who you are playing against and try to predict their moves. Which victory are they more likely to go for? What move are they most likely to do next? And why the hell did they conquer that city-state when they KNEW you were going for it, that son of a bitch!
Contrary to popular belief, most gamers actually like to be challenged when they play. They like to be able to think and to plot. But what is probably most important is the replay-ability. With numerous victories, leaders and expansions, Civ 5 has plenty of content to keep gamers entertained for years to come.