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eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate

Now I know what my husband and I are called – CivFanatics. Being part of a community makes all the long gaming hours, crazed dedication and strategy filled dreams suddenly all normal and worthwhile.

What we’re addicted to is none other than Sid Meier's Civilization V (also known as Civ 5). It’s the latest Civilization game released in 2010, 5 years after our previous favorite Civ IV. It’s a turn-based strategy, 4X computer game developed by Firaxis.

4X games are a genre of strategy video game in which players control an empire and "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate”. How can we not love 4X in the virtual world? The phase of exploration starting from the ancient era, expansion straight into the medieval era, exploitation continuing in the industrial era and extermination heightened in the modern era… suffice to say, the online world is our oyster!

It’s not just about world domination as there are more ways to win the game. A player may focus on scientific research (think Einstein) and become the first to assemble and launch a spaceship, winning a space race victory. Diplomatic victory requires (carry big bright smiles) support from other civilizations and city states in the United Nations. The one that we love but find difficult to achieve within allocated time is the culture victory which involves filling out five of the ten social policy "trees" and completing the Utopia project (who knew that even online, Utopia is elusive). The final option is time-based by having the highest score at the year 2050 AD.

I admire the many slants of what defines victory and thinl that if we spend more time experimenting with non-violent and win-win forms of collaboration virtually, then some of the behavior would also mirror in real life. Not to mention the game teaches us about historical civilizations as you choose any one of eighteen ranging from China’s Wu Zetian to Aztec’s Montezuma. Strategic and luxury resources pepper the land and inevitably, you’ll regret how little nature your cities has left yet marvel at the improvements and wonders you’ve built along the way. That’s the conundrum of life – we want material progress, yet we moan the passing of traditions and mother earth.

I for one believe there can be a way of 4X living where players in the game of life control their energy and "explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate”. Explore inwards, expand spiritually, exploit personal wisdom for greater good and exterminate self doubt. Sounds extreme? If so, I apologize and blame it on the lack of sleep as we were Oda Nobunaga of Japan trying to gain a cultural victory against Alexander of Greece before 2050 AD but time ran out at 2.30am.

Reload saved game, wait…just one more turn.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world
and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

- E. B. White