Sid Meier’s Memoir review – Civilization creator is all about fun

September 11, 2020 at 08:00AM

This enjoyable, if light, autobiography by one of the first auteurs of video games focuses on the games over the man behind them

One billion hours, veteran game designer Sid Meier notes in this light and enjoyable memoir, is an unfathomable length of time. And yet it took just six years for players to spend a billion cumulative hours on the fifth iteration of Meier’s engrossing Civilization series, a nation-building game that has seen them shepherding their peoples from the foundation of their first city in 4000BC to an eventual victory through military, cultural or scientific might, millions of times over.

What makes the Civilzation games so compelling? The fans are a cut above; I’d know as I am one of them, having racked up 530 hours on Civilization VI since I bought it at the beginning of lockdown. For Meier, good game design comes down, at its core, to a series of “interesting decisions”. Give players too few choices and you aren’t really making a game, you’re making interactive fiction; give them too much, and the panoply of options renders the whole thing more stressful than entertaining.

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