The End of the World is not Nigh?

I am grateful to my son, Sam, for alerting me to Lycerius’s dilemma.

I’ve been playing the same game of Civ II for 10 years. Though long outdated, I grew fascinated with this particular game because by the time Civ III was released, I was already well into the distant future. I then thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be. Naturally I play other games and have a life, but I often return to this game when I’m not doing anything and carry on. The results are as follows.

  • The world is a hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation.
  • There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands.

I found the post through Marvin Tokhai. He observed:

Whilst browsing Reddit’s r/gaming Subreddit last night I came across a post from Lycerius who has had a game of Sid Meier’s Civilisation II on the go for 10 years! I found it amusing and left it at that…

Returning to it this morning the post has gone viral leading to its own dedicated subreddit r/theeternalwar and even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has jumped on the band wagon. Sky News also found this newsworthy.

After reading Lycerius’s post I wondered about the parallels with investment in high performance sport.

The military stalemate is air tight. The post-late game in civ II is perfectly balanced because all remaining nations already have all the technologies so there is no advantage. And there are so many units at once on the map that you could lose 20 tank units and not have your lines dented because you have a constant stream moving to the front. This also means that cities are not only tiny towns full of starving people, but that you can never improve the city. “So you want a granary so you can eat? Sorry; I have to build another tank instead. Maybe next time.”

Lycerius’s goal for the next few years “is to try and end the war and thus use the engineers to clear swamps and fallout so that farming may resume. I want to rebuild the world. But I’m not sure how. If any of you old Civ II players have any advice, I’m listening.”

Photo Credit

Civilization II

The Game Is Afoot

Yesterday I wrote about Philippe Mongin’s game theoretic paper.

Whilst writing it I was conscious that I had yet to join Matthew Jackson and Yoav Shoham‘s Game Theory Massive Open Online Course.

Matthew and Yoav point out that this course “will provide the basics: representing games and strategies, the extensive form (game trees), Bayesian games, repeated and stochastic games, and more”.

I have downloaded a copy of Kevin Leyton-Brown and Yoav Shoham’s (2008) Essentials of Game Theory: A Concise Multidisciplinary Introduction and will start reading immediately.

I was mindful too of Stephen Downes‘ ongoing discussion of gamification.

David Zinger has some important insights to share about gamification. He observes that “I believe gamification is one of the key engagement approaches and tools for 2011 and beyond. I think the big challenge will be to ensure these approaches are meaningful, authentic and operate for conversion into work rather than a diversion from work”.

David links to some SlideShare resources that explore Gamification.

The title of this blog post comes from Henry V, Act 3, Scene 1 which in part includes:

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:

It is also featured in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.

My next few weeks will need to be a mixture of energy and detection.

Photo Credit

The Pattern Loft