Who saw that coming? Yes, somebody has won the coveted £40 worth of Steam games! We asked you folks to send us your favourite experiences in games in interesting ways, and you certainly didn’t disappoint. We received all sorts of entries, including songs, pictures and anecdotes, but ultimately there can only be one winner – and the name of that person is…
Ciaran M! By the time people read this we should have notified you and asked for your steam ID and your game choices. For the benefit of everyone else, here is Ciaran’s entry in full, just as we received it:
This is a story about power, control, conflict, betrayal, revenge, and whatever other related nouns you care to spew out on your way to the top of the world and inevitably on your way down again. Or to put simply and not-like-a-pretentious-dick – this is my experience playing an online multiplayer game of Sid Meier’s Civilization II with 3 other acquaintances a few years ago.
This is also a choose your own adventure style montage, here I will present 3 doors, behind each a soundtrack to this tale. You may make your own choice as to which will accompany this story as you read:
If you’re unfamiliar with the Civilization series, it is a strategy game in which you are the ruler of your own nation or civilization, you build up your nation from the year 2000 B.C., building cities, military force, carrying out scientific research, managing your own economy, and later on researching components for space travel. There are different ways and conditions that allow you to win over the other opponents. You can work peacefully towards the goal of winning the space race, occupy the most land by the end of the game, or annihilate every bastard on the planet and run around whooping your shirt in the air and hollering, nuking tiny impotent cities for no other reason than just because. Obviously not everyone has the resources and research capacity to achieve victory peacefully, which leads to conflict at some point or another.
This particular game was long, an average game of Civ takes several hours at least. We played for about 8 or 9 in one sitting. Rather than playing on a randomly generated map, we played on the world map. I controlled America, aiming to rule the West as John Edwards might have if he had become President. The other players – who I will refer to by their handles were Orgun, who controlled Japan, Dire, who controlled Russia, and Chumgra who controlled the United Kingdom. We also had 3 A.I. players – the Sioux in Australia, the Spanish, and the Egyptians, just so we had someone to bully around and didn’t go for each others throats immediately.
Things started off slowly, I expanded my nation around the West, building cities across North America, and progressed south, not finding much sign of life except for the occasional barbarian attacks. Since the other players were in the East, I was fairly isolated for the earlier half of the game, presenting an opportunity to play more diplomatically (to clarify how diplomatic I was, here is a photo of me playing the game: http://cooliomandogg.com/diplomat.png). I built a considerably strong military force regardless of my exclusion, which proved difficult to manage at times, and would become a burden to my research progress when my own cities would revolt against decisions I had made.
While I played with myself in the West, Dire expanded his Russian empire around all of Europe, crushing the Egyptians very early on, Chumgra expanded a little outside of the U.K. into western Europe, and Orgun stayed fairly recluded in Japan and made immense technological strides on his own.
At this point in the game, some 1000 or 1500 years in, we had progressed far enough to build naval units capable of crossing oceans, and so I made my debut in Europe to join in on the raping and pillaging of the Spanish civilization. Orgun would later destroy the Sioux civilization in Australia while snooping around with his naval units, while Chumgra and I put out a claim to some specific Spanish cities before they were captured. I particularly remember claiming Saragossa. Dire ignored these claims, which was completely indecent, because obviously diplomacy in the real world is supposed to boil down to “I WANT THIS MUMMY, MUMMY BUY ME CRAYONS”.
After losing out on land in Europe, I was stuck over in the West, and Chumgra had to cramp his entire nation into the small U.K. islands and little pockets of France and Spain. Chumgra acted as an informant to me of how things were going on where he was. Upon trading maps I could see Dire controlled nearly all of Europe, Russia, Asia, and bits of Africa. He was expanding like some sort of super virus, like AIDS, bird flu and swine flu wrapped in a tornado boxed in a hurricane in a lion riding a dolphin inside of a harrier jet on cocaine. At this point I was thinking – “Who does this Hitler bastard think he is?”
At this point a secret pact was made, the three of us conspired to take down Russia, because Dire was expanding like it was nobody’s business, like he was the nancy-dance cock of the walk top of the world number one superman. The three of us pretended to be friendly with him for a few more hundred years, all the while secretly mounting a huge assault on two fronts which he would not expect.
At this point in my recollection things become a little hazed as the tension started rising, so I looked around for some old forum posts and found Orgun’s recollection from early 2008, and remembered what a bastard he turned out to be as well: “This was where the second part of my plan kicked in and I started preparing to go onto a war footing. Relations between Russia and America had become a bit icy and I took advantage of this by manipulating America and UK into thinking Russia was a bigger threat than he actually was. This process actually took a long time, but essentially I convinced them that I was trading him military technology for my own security, but was afraid that his expansionist ways would eventually put me and Ross in danger. This was all actually part of my master plan to destroy the UK + America’s navies, which would be a credible threat to my island in the event of immediate fighting.”
Whether we were manipulated or not, we saw Russia as a threat to us, and declared war. At this point I sent my fleet of bomber planes over Europe to the tune of Secret Door #4:
Destruction rained over cities spanning across from Spain to eastern Europe to Russia itself. It turned out he had barely any units stationed in his cities, and what was there was either outnumbered by a considerably high ratio, or vastly outdated – that means spearmen and archers vs. bomber jets ladies and gentlemen. I blew him up, I blew up his stupid face and his stupid railroads and shitty mens on the battlefield. They got blown up and they died, and then they were dead because I blew them up.
Since I was the one bombing the Russian empire from afar, I could not easily capture any of his cities myself. Instead Orgun cleaned up around eastern Russia and Asia, taking the plunder for himself, conquering the whole continent in only a few turns after having baited me into doing the hard (or not so hard) work for him. With his advanced technological research and now owning half of the world, there was no way the rest of us could stand up to him. I even tried nuking his balls to hell for having baited me so hard, but his defense capabilities thwarted anything I could throw his way. He recalls in his account – “Then everyone realised they were completely fucked and promptly quit and stopped talking to me for the rest of the day.”
Civilization has the capacity to destroy friendships and relationships temporarily. Rivalries and actions in the game can have people at each others throats worse than a game of Monopoly. It might not be such a big deal the next day, but when you’ve been playing for 8-10 hours feeling like you’re in charge of the situation and you suddenly feel the presence of another behind your back, just about to fuck you over like some maddened prison rapist, it can make the worst of enemies between any two people for the duration of the game. I struggle to think of another videogame game in which traits like deception and manipulation can be so central to clasping victory, and being a nice guy about things and helping others can put you in a position you do not want to be put in, which I like to call the “please do not bum rape me with ICBM missiles” position. This is why Civilization is a great series, and why it is probably one of my most prominent gaming experiences.
So there we have it, in the end it was a unanimous decision for Ciaran’s entry. This was mostly because of the way he managed to get across the joy of playing Civilization, to the extent that Slappy considered buying it and I reinstalled Civ IV to my PC. The inclusion of a soundtrack to read by was a great idea, and all in all Ciaran certainly deserves the grand prize of £40.
We’ll do a short update telling you what he decided to purchase with his winnings. Thanks a lot to everyone who entered, it was certainly a close competition.