“Hell is other people.”
— Jean-Paul Sartre
When I first saw this article on CNN, my heart almost skipped a beat.
Sid Meier was bringing his classic 1991 PC game, “Civilization” to Facebook!
In my opinion, “Civilization” was one of the most addictive games of all time. It allowed players to start a new civilization from scratch, and build it into a technological powerhouse that ultimately launches a space expedition to Alpha Centauri.
Alas, my hopes were quickly dashed by Facebook’s ritualistic emasculation of the original game.
Here is CNN’s description of the fundamental difference between the new “Civilization World” and the classic game:
“In ‘Civilization World,’ the idea of world domination still exists, but players can no longer control their own destiny and must rely on others to band together for success. It is a mind shift for longtime fans of the series, and one that requires changing strategies on the fly.”
Relying on other people.
Other than in the Army, I cannot honestly say that relying on other people has ever helped me achieve much of anything. In fact, it many cases it has led to betrayal, resulted in disappointment, or simply held me back.
Why? Because people always act to maximize their own interests, and will typically pursue those interests regardless of whether or not they hurt others around them.
“Civilization” was a fun game precisely because it did not involve other people.
I think I’ll pass on Facebook’s brave new world of pinko commie consensus-based indecision-making.
I prefer the clarity and accountability of a traditional hierarchy. It is far more efficient and features far fewer chiefs.
Plus, contrary to one former manager’s advice, we are not all quarterbacks. I mean, have you ever heard of a successful football team in which everyone was the quarterback?
It’s rather to be expected, sadly. The fundamental mechanic of social games like this is to rope in as many of a person’s contacts as possible, and the fundamental purpose of the game is to be a vehicle for advertising and/or microtransactions.
“You want to attempt this seemingly intriguing mission? First you have to recruit 5 more people into your gaming pyramid scheme! Oh, you want to attack more than once per day? We sell this handy Attack-o-Motron, yours for only $5 and good for 30 days!”
Yeah, I probably could have called this post “Civilization” Turns Captialistic Imperilist Pig as well, and just illuminate the very astute points you just made. 😉
Yet when you drive on a crowded freeway, you are literally putting your life in the hands of hundreds of strangers, whom you rely on to follow the rules of the road. The thing about self-interest is that it leads to an interest in cooperation in order to accomplish things in the real world. Humanity seems to operate through forming communities, which is one reason facebook is so popular. Individualism is a rather recent sociological phenomenon (and one still strongest in the West). I guess I compare this to the “is light a particle or a wave” in quantum mechanics. We are both individuals responsible for our lives, and we’re part of a larger whole, whose identity and possibilities are shaped and constrained by the larger community. That’s a bit of a paradox. (Interestingly, traditional conservatism is very community oriented and distrusting of individualism — so it’s not really a left-right thing, at least not in terms of the traditional right).
You’ve obviously never driven in California or Kentucky. I assure that you must do everthing in your power to avoid other people, who fragrantly disobey the rules of the road. It is self-interest and skillful driving that keep me alive. 😉
Obviously, I tend more toward right libertarianism. I also believe that 20% of individuals produce 80% of our economic activity (I have no data to support this, it is just based on experience). For instance, remember those ridiculous group projects in school, where one guy did all the work and the group got a good grade?
I was that guy.
I couldnt agree with you more