MDA & 8 Kinds of Fun

Civilization 5 is a turn-based strategy game where players lead historic civilizations into the future, attempting to achieve victory through research, exploration, diplomacy, expansion, economic development, and military conquest. Despite being a turn-based strategy game that can take anywhere from 2-15 hours to complete in full, it is extremely successful due to well designed mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics.

  • Mechanics: The mechanics of Civilization 5 are intuitive, although they require time to master. Controllable characters can be directed through simple click-to-walk or click-to-act systems that allow the player to easily control how their civilization functions, without getting too “in the weeds” with one specific part. However, all different elements of the game (economy, military, diplomacy) are incredibly expansive and players can play multiple times before mastering these domains. For example, interacting with neighboring civilizations and city states to acquire a diplomatic victory is almost a modded version of the game, compared to an attempt at a military victory.

Dynamics and Aesthetics: Fantasy is explored through the game through the creation of “worlds” of civilizations that are impossible to have interacted. For example, a player can play as Queen Victoria’s England and have other civilizations such as Mongolian Empire, Byzantine Empires, etc. Players can exercise fantasy this way. Narrative also manifests itself throughout this game: as players move further throughout the game, there are increasingly more conflicts, wars, and alliances formed between civilizations. Therefore, there is increasingly more nuance in the narrative and the player electing to conduct certain trades may impact the narrative and their place in the game. Challenge is introduced in the game through barbarians, NPC’s that randomly attack your civilization to slow down your development and growth. Lastly, self-discovery is an essential element of the game because with each new game, the player can change how they play, how they want to win, their style, size, and aggressiveness as a civilization.

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