It is a common fact that video games are the perfect form of escapism. They offer a separate world to become encapsulated with, with no responsibilities and none of the mundane elements of reality. But they also now represent an opportunity to create a personalised civilisation in an idealised world. Gamers have the freedom to make a world with no sense of morality if they wish, or the choice to be a dictator of their own society. There are many games of this type including SimCity, Civilisation, Populous and Age of Empires.
SimCity is probably one of the most well known of these games, first published in 1989 and is an open-ended city building computer and video game. There have been many versions of the game, but the overall theme is to develop a city from the foundations and ensure that the inhabitants are happy, healthy and successful.
Civilisation was first released in 1991 and allows the gamer to create a civilisation from prehistoric times through to today and the near future. Not to be mistaken for the board game Civilisation created by Francis Tresham in 1980, which is built upon a similar concept where players compete to build the most successful civilisation.
Populous was released in 1989 and has been described as the first ‘God Game’. Players shape their civilisation by acting as a deity and control societies through divine intervention. The ultimate aim of the game is to manipulate the civilisation so that it can defeat an opposing one.
Age of Empires was released in 1997 and works in a similar way to Civilisation. The games span from the Stone Age to the Iron Age and focuses on historical events in Asia, Europe and Africa.
What all of these games have in common is that they are hugely popular. The concept of having complete control over a civilisation and society is very enticing, whether it is a case of sculpting the civilisations history, or manipulating events as they actually happen in life.