A player of the classic PC game Civilisation II has given us a glimpse into the bleak future that may just be facing our own civilisation, by playing the same copy on and off for ten years. While most players tend to just fire themselves off in a spaceship to Alpha Centauri in the late 20th century, this player, known as Lycerius, carried on for another two thousand years, bringing him into the 40th century – quite a way off from now.
The result is a nightmarish struggle for power between three huge nations who cannot learn to get along. According to Lycerius, “the three remaining nations have been locked in an eternal death struggle for almost 2,000 years. Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a ceasefire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons.” He describes the situation as hellish, with constant struggles over the remaining resources after large swathes of the planet have been destroyed by nuclear war.
The need to constantly build weapons and armies for defence means that no resources can be spent on repairing damaged cities or trying to salvage something from the wastelands, so there is no way for any of the civilisations to recover. Even more worryingly, Lycerius “was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire”, after the people refused to vote to allow him to make preemptive strikes and prevent the devastation of his cities.
Many reports are comparing the collapse of civilisation in the game to the events of George Orwell’s 1984, and others are saying it represents what could possibly be a very real future for mankind. What do you think? Will we blaze off into the sunset in that shuttle, or is never-ending warfare our true predestined fate?