Caesar IV and the Empire Online

I’ve enjoyed playing Caesar IV, a Roman city-building game. I’ve always gotten a kick out of city builders, ever since playing the first Sim-City on my brother’s 286 in college. Having read Bogost’s ‘Persuasive Games’, I’ve been wondering about the procedural rhetoric of the game, its anachronisms v. its historicity , etc. I’ll probably post something to that effect, eventually.

I haven’t played the online version of the game yet, and today I came across the website for the online game. It’s quite interesting in that, for once, there is no MMO, no MMORPG… it seems in fact to be a series of challenges and downloadable scenarios. Play the scenario, upload your results, voila, bragging rights. There’s an ’empire’ mode too, where you end up creating your own little province… and again, you get bragging rights depending on how large your population is, what kinds of structures you’ve built, how your economy is going, etc… Stats from the website: 4,109 cities by 1,742 governors. 17,021,836 population. 87,761,505 denarii. 32076 years, 7 months played (Clearly, time flows differently within the game). The site keeps track of who had updated which province, and what exactly they’ve done there.

What is neat is that new scenarios get added all the time, extending the game for you (the in-game editor looks like it needs an enormous manual to explain… which it doesn’t have, of course). What is particularly good is that all of this gets tied into some basic social networking type stuff, forums, and so on… so a game, that has quiet a lot of historical drapery on it, could become the locus for *real* historical discussion. A learning-through-doing situation. I wish I was better at the game though. I can only get through the first two scenarios.