Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate
When I was quite young, older than 5 but younger than 10, my parents were active in the local amateur radio community. This often involved going to hamventions. I was young and didn’t know precisely in what I was interested at the time, but the vendor booths intrigued me. There were all manner of radio, computing, and general electronic gadgetry around. In the particular memory I can recall at the moment, we were at some large convention center, and the vendor booths were plentiful. There was a warm lighting that reflected on all of the items and to my young mind it made everything something akin to magic. I walked around with my older sister and had to stop at each booth to examine what occult paraphernalia was on display, and because I could understand little of the jargon used my imagination ran wild inventing all kinds of capabilities and uses that had little resemblance to reality. I was energized and felt ready to burst apart with excitement and wonder.
Then my eyes made a line to a booth whose wares I most definitely understood. The box art of starships, battles, warriors, vikings, wizards, and cartoon characters hit my retinas with more force than the sight of a squirrel to a dog! GAMES! There was nothing more on Earth in that moment that captivated me. I was a slave to my own excitement. In capital serif letters emblazoned on one particular box stood the word: CIVILIZATION. I had no clue then, but a lifelong fandom was being birthed in my heart. I was a precocious youngling, and I had been told histories of Rome, Greece, Byzantium, Babylon, Sumeria, and other ancient Western polities by relatives and other elders in my life. I had begun reading about them as well. I had begged my parents for a set of encyclopedias that included more information about them. I didn’t immediately understand what type of game this was, but I did know that I wanted it. Naturally, my sister indulged me.
Once I got home and opened the box… well… oh my.
Now, there is one thing about old games that must be said. Before the internet made patch delivery an easy thing to accomplish, you might have software changes made after the first shipment, and this meant that addenda to the technical manual and game guide were necessary. This also occurred if you had many ports and wanted to save on the cost of manuals and guides.
Civilization was, by no means, the first 4X game ever created, but it was the first 4X game I played. It also happens to be my favorite game series ever. I might even go as far as to say that Civilization is the greatest game franchise of all time.