I returned to Sid Meier’s Civilization V [Civ 5] over the last week, and it had nothing to do with the recently released expansion Civilization V: God and Kings. No, my return to this top-down turn based civilization game (where victory is achieved through research, diplomacy, expansion, economic development, government and military) was based on my desire to play a game that wasn’t frantic and could be enjoyed at my own pace. The beauty of turn based games is in their flow, which you dictate. What I was looking for (and found) in my return to Civ 5 was control, and the calming effect a turn based game brings – despite the constant harassment from the warlike civilization of the Songhai.
With the restart of my career potentially on the horizon, once again, I needed a game that could act as a sedative rather than a shot of adrenaline. With first person shooters [FPS] you are constantly on edge. The FPS experience is not relaxing, but an edge of your seat ride – it’s like you are Liam Neeson himself, in Taken. During times of high stress, where I am playing the waiting game, I find myself reverting to a turn based prescription. When things are a bit out of control, a game that places you as the leader of a civilization provides that dose of Stalinism that everyone needs.
The winning conditions of Civ 5 are within your control as well. One does not need to just kill the competition; culture and science are other routes one can take to victory. You can build your societies’ level of intelligence by focusing on education, or go greedy and go for the gold (non-Olympic style). Or, if you are like me, you can build a well-rounded society through education, capitalism and democracy; while you simultaneously mask your Manhattan Project.
Civ 5 provides you with a game that allows you to dictate pace, victory conditions, and about as many aspects of building a society that you can imagine. When everything else is out of your hands, Civ 5 provides just enough control to help you stay regulated. It allows you to make decisions that impact your entire society. You control your political relationships with other empires and city-states. You control your economic rise and educational aspirations, and when you get bored with being decent, you can unleash your Manhattan Project on the Songhai.