Civilization — Where Leaders Live Forever
Caesar and Gandhi signing peace treaties? That’s Impossible!
I have to say it’s good to go back to writing about languages and video games, after that saga with the whole Digital Museum shtick. I might go back to it in the future, but there are no plans for anything right now. Still, I wish someone would ask me questions about it.
So with that finally out of the way, I will dedicate this article to the game that is considered to be… you know what, it is Sid Meier’s Civilization, so no need for glorified introductions because it’s a famous game. Also, because it is a recurring joke among my various writings, I have a limited number of paragraphs. These reasons mean that I won’t be taking the time to explain what this game is all about. The year is 2021, people. Look it up on the Internet. But yeah, Civilization (or “Civ”, as everybody calls it) is known for being quite immersive.
The main thing you should know about the game is that it allows you to play as different nations throughout history. Interestingly, each nation is represented by one leader only, meaning that leaders that lived forever ago, like Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, are now allowed to live forever, or at least until they get to say hello to Mahatma Gandhi and his nukes (a classic joke among the fandom). In any case, it leads to some very seriously anachronistic scenarios. But that’s ok because there’s something that’s even more interesting than that…
Something something something multiple languages
The cool thing about Civilization, at least in recent titles, is that every nation speaks in their native language (which means that unless you have subtitles, you won’t understand anything), as if inaudibly. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you have set in your options menu; they still speak their own language. And they’re pretty dedicated about it too since you have Latin speakers, and I’m pretty sure the Japanese speakers are using a 14th-century dialect since I study Japanese, and that definitely doesn’t sound like any Japanese you hear in modern anime (I actually study Japanese; not just repeat sentences I hear on TV). I can’t say the same for the other languages, though.
That by itself is not a problem, as in “quite awesome”, so to say. Frankly, the problem I want to discuss isn’t with the game itself because it didn’t do anything wrong (at least not something that I want to talk about). The real problem is that other games don’t use this awesome feature (although it’s more of a gimmick).
I can’t think of any games off the top of my hat that does something like Civilization, at least not with this seriousness. I know that Smite has some degree of multilingual aspect, but it’s mostly just for humour and nothing that should be taken at face value. But yeah, the fact that there aren’t enough games with multiple languages is a crime in itself.
It’s simple: make more multilingual games
It’s already been established that the problem is not in Civilization itself but outside, leaving me practically nothing to examine. So I would simply say: make more games with multiple languages and do it seriously.
Frankly, I can’t think of a better solution myself (even though I came up with it). Since there’s nothing to inspect with the subject of this article (that is, the game), I can only say that, to solve the “problem”, there need to be more games like these. I know there are since I just remembered that Tekken has some multilingual elements, but I still feel like there aren’t enough.
So please, if you’re a game developer, dedicate several years of your life to making as many games with as many languages as possible… is what I would be saying if it was a plausible statement. But seriously, I can’t think of any other solution than just making more games. In the next section, I will ask you to contribute your wisdom since ‘here’ isn’t the place for it.
And ‘here’ it is!
Right, so… I already exhausted my well of possible solutions, and now it’s your turn. As per my usual writing style, I ask the readers to tell me what they think about any applicable ideas they might have regarding a solution or at least point out aspects that I missed, deliberately or otherwise. Although now I realise that this section needs more “meat” to it. I used to call out specialists; now it’s just “whoever is interested”. I suppose if you’re a linguist, you have something more to say, but that’s it.
Sid Meier’s Civilization is just as immersive as people say it is, so if you’re into strategy games, especially the hardcore kind, you’d want to play this. I tried, but it wasn’t for me, but it was neat to hear Latin because nobody speaks that language anymore.
The aspect of multiple languages in a game is really nice, but for the most part, developers aren’t really concerned with it since gamers care too much about it. And that means even more for Japanese developers because they aren’t knowledgeable about cultures that aren’t Japan. That’s not an insult; it show’s in their games and their complicated history. I read a lot of Japanese stuff, so I’m sure about this. Anyways, if making a multilingual game is important to game designers, they should probably focus on making it after they gain a reputation because, from what I understood, only the top game designers can call passion projects. Not that I know since I never climbed that high.
And there you have it. I wrote this article over two days, instead of my usual 1-hour routine, because my procrastination issues are getting stronger. I’ll be sure to get better at it, but until then, have a good evening… because it’s not night yet… not at the time of writing, that is.