The Best Type of Government

No game of civilization 4 is complete without taking advantage of the game’s many civics. Civics are ways to organise different aspects of civilization. They provide the civilization with unique bonuses that vary in realism.

For instance converting a civilization to a police state makes each city produce military units 25% faster and massively reduces the unhappiness during wartime, while adopting universal suffrage, which gives every citizen the right to vote, enables the player to speed up production by spending money and gives the civilization a production bonus from towns. Through the selection of civics it is therefore possible to organise a civilization to suit its current struggles.

Choose your style of leadership - Will you be a tyrannical or benevolent leader?

Choose your style of leadership – Will you be a tyrannical or benevolent leader?


I am currently running universal suffrage, bureaucracy, serfdom, state property and organised religion. There are mainly two reasons for this. Firstly, I am at war and the production bonuses from universal suffrage, bureaucracy, and state property are increasing the production of war units in my cities. Secondly serfdom and organised religion are providing a production speed bonus for improvements and buildings. Furthermore the state property civic decreases the cost of running far away cities, which enables increased focus on technological development rather than gold production.


My decision to utilize universal suffrage is to a certain degree realistic. For instance the production bonus from towns is something one might expect form a country where everybody, at least indirectly, participates in the country’s decision making. After all, if a major part of the population agrees with the decisions being made or at lest believes that the government is making decisions on their behalf, they would surely be more engaged and involved in society, which would result in a higher production and GDP. For instance an average Norwegian would most likely show a greater commitment to building a children’s hospital than a concentration camp for use during the holocaust.

On the other hand it is hard to imagine how paying a significant amount of gold would in any way speed up production to such a momentous degree. Surely paying money to direct attention and finish something faster is not in any way farfetched, but there is no obvious reason why only governments with universal suffrage would be able to do this, and in such an exaggerated manner, and is therefore not relatable to real life.

When relating the civics to reality I observed that the game does not make connections between civics, which is often the practice in our society. It is therefore important to notice that even though people are able to vote, it does not guarantee a democracy. Take Russia for example. Even though their constitution guarantees universal suffrage, the country is classified by the economist’s democratic index as an authoritarian regime and the same leader has been elected as the president or prime minister since 1999 (Britannica School, 2014 ) (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2013).


Still, the game does miss a connection between civics in the game. Having universal suffrage, emancipation, free speech and free religion should in most cases highlight public opinion and result in a system of checks and balances that insures that power lies with the people. Then an additional happiness bonus and a prohibition from starting unprovoked wars would be expected. This is due to the fact that a population does not always want to go to war and often does not care about the leader’s ambitions of world domination. Therefore unless a strong version of nationhood or police state was adopted it would be hard to start wars. Therefore if I was waging war against a nation that wanted peace, universal suffrage is not the civic I would use

On the other hand, if my civilization was attacked. There is no doubt what kind of civics I would use. As seen during world war two, being the last protector of democracy comes with a great moral benefit. Therefore I would probably go with all the civics that are associated with a high degree of liberty. Even though democracy is often associated with a slow decision-making process, my field generals would take most of the decisions.

Churchill was one smart cookie.

In addition if all states were democratic, there would be greater understanding of the importance of human rights and the likelihood of wars world decrease (NDLA, 2010). This would in turn benefit my citizens and ultimately my civilization and the global community.

This way the game disappoints in realism, it fails to portray connections between civics and focuses too much on balancing the game through numbers and percentages. Although the bonuses sometimes are realistic and comes with graeat observatios, such as a production bonus from universal suffrage, it fails to render the limitations and combinational advantages. Therefore civics that seem useful in the game aren’t always the best in real life.




Written by Alexander – 1STA

Power – in international relations and Civilization IV

It can be difficult to define the word ”power”, because the word has such a wide field of application. We use the word in our everyday life, like for instance with family and friends about who “who is the leader in the group of friends” or “does mum and dad decide whether I should clean the dishes, or not?” In addition to this we also hear about power in the media connected to power in one individual country, as well as in international relations. And this is what I am going to tell you more about in this text, power in international relations. defines the word power in international relations like this: “Power in international relations means power to affect other nations to get the ability to enact for it´s own nation´s values and interests in the world society.”

Like in the real world, Civilization IV has international relations with other nations. We can divide the term power into three categories; economic power, military power and ideological power. In Civilization IV, we can use all of these different types of powers to conquer the other nations and win the game.

Economic power is most often about wealth and dividing benefits. It is not always about how much money a country has, but also about their national resources, and how much they are worth. An example of how a country can make use of their resources can be to boycott another country´s resource supply. Sometimes it is not even necessary to do this, but just threaten the other country that “if you don´t do as we want we will stop supplying you with our resources”. An example of this in the real world is Norway and Uganda.NRK´s article from February this year tells about the new law in Uganda that forbidden homosexuality. The punishment for being homosexual in Uganda is now fourteen years in jail, which Norway does not agree to. To stop this new law, Norway discussed what effect it would have if they cut the financial assistance to Uganda. When Norway cut their financial assistance, it was a way using thwir economic power to influence Ugandan decision-making.

Like I already mentioned, one can also use economic power in the game. It can be a good idea to stick to one playing strategy during the game, like for example to settle for having a stable and good economy. You can for example start extracting oil. The oil can help you in several ways, it is up to you whether you want to use the oil yourself, sell it to other nations, or trade it exchanged with something else you maybe need more. Like in the real world, you can use ether of these strategies to get what you want. One example can be that one nation that you is selling oil to, are going to war against another nation, that´s stronger than you are. You also have negotiation with this stronger nation, because you are trading oil against something else. Let´s say that the country you are selling oil to is Denmark, and the nation you are trading with is Russia. Russia do not like that you are having negotiations with Denmark, because Denmark is declaring war against them. Your solution in this situation can be to tell Denmark that if they are going to declare war against Russia, you will not be selling oil to them anymore. I believe Russia would easily win this war, and Denmark would end up with nothing.

Military power is about military forces. The main point in this category is about having as big and strong forces as possible. However, the most important about having a lot of military power is not the use of these forces, but that other nations are aware of how big the forces are and what they can be able to do. An example of this can be Ukraine and Russia. A while ago Ukraine started a military practice. This was not just because they needed to practice, but also to show Russia how strong they were and that it would be a bad idea for them to attack. In the game, this can happen the same way. If you see that the nation you want to attack has a stronger military force than you, it´s a bad idea to attack them.

This is a picture of the US military forces. USA has a lot of military power.

This is a picture of the US military forces. USA has a lot of military power.

The last category is ideological power, which is about thoughts, values and feelings. Ideological power is about getting through with it´s own nations values and interests without using military- or economic power. One way you can show your power is through common values and thoughts to achieve support, and in this way have ideological power. The best example I can come up with is the Vatican State. The Vatican State do not have any military forces, and do not even have their own economy, because they´re a part of the Italian economic system. (, 2014). However, the Vatican State is a strong nation because the Pope is the leader of the country, in addition to being the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Because the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church is so important to so many people, the Vatican State has a lot of power. So if you attack the Vatican State, you kind of attack the whole Roman Catholic Church.

This is the Vatican State, and as you see, it does not have any military forces, yet is has a lot of power.

This is the Vatican State, and as you see, it does not have any military forces, yet is has a lot of power.

My conclusion is that there are similarities between the Civilization IV and the real world when it comes to power. For me it was not that easy to in the ideological power, but especially the military power has many similarities with the real world society.

Sources: 2014 Downloaded 28.04.2014 25.02.2014 18.04.2014

Educational Gaming

Games have become a time consuming activity, and a lot of parents are getting frustrated because their kids are using more time on games instead of something else, more useful and educational. But is it right that nothing useful or educating can come from games or is it just for entertainment? And is it a good idea to use it as a part of our education?

We see that games are being used more and more in education, many students seem to like this way of learning. I myself have to say that it is really nice to have some changes from the normal studying with reading and writing and a great way to mix up the learning methods. It’s a nice change to be able to do something and see the development instead of having to picture how it would be.

There are a lot of different games out there in the world, both good and bad. But what makes a game a good learning tool? According to Eirik Jåtten, principal at Røyneberg School, it’s important that the game is challenging and fun at the same time. He had a project where his students were able to play as a part of their classes, and the kids said it was fun because it was challenging rather then fun despite that it was challenging. Because it is challenging the kids had to work harder to get further and it made them more engaged in the game always trying to get to the next step. (E. Jåtten, 2011)

Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen said that by learning from games students tend to remember what they learned easier. This is because they where able to see what happens, able to do instead of just reading and writing. He describes games like verbs and nouns, where the verbs were the things that happened and the nouns were the layout and graphics. What happened was important, but the layout and graphics were equally important to make sure the player didn’t get bored. (T. Andresen, 2011)

In games there is a lot of hidden learning that we don’t notice that easily. Because often we continue playing a game because we like it and think it’s fun and don’t realize and consider that we are learning something. Take for example when you are playing Sims, you are going through a family’s daily life and making them go to work to earn money, to buy a house, a car, food and so on. You are playing Sims because you think it’s fun but at the same time you are learning how to finance a family and how family life works. For example you have to make sure you take care of your children to not have them taken away from you in the same way you would have to in real life.

Illustrasjon Andrea 1

At school we have been playing Civilization 4 as a part of our studies, and wewere told to do tasks around and about the game. This forces us to see deeper into the game and all the time be conscious on what we are doing and why we are doing it. If I was to play Civilization 4 at home just for fun I would not have had the same understanding of the game, I would just go through without really noticing many of the details.

By playing Civilization 4 as a part of our learning plan we get to learn about different types of government, international conflicts, how a society is built up as well as problem solving and strategy. But at the same time there is a lot of hidden learning in the game. Learning that you don’t notice at first glance. At the same time the same time as we learn the obvious we also notice and learn how to be patient, accepting that we can’t always see what comes next, how it is to make decisions and that what you decide has consequences.

Illustrasjon Andrea 2

So is it useful to play games as a part of our education? The truth is that there are many kinds of games and weather we think about it or not, there is always something to learn. And what you learn how useful it is varies from game to game. In some games you may learn to solve math problems, in others you learn how a society works and in some the learning is more hidden. And if we can manage to use the right games in the right way it could be a good way to engage students more in their studies.


E. Jåtten ((Norwegian link) downloaded 11.04.14)

T. Andresen ((Norwegian link) downloaded 11.04.14)

Written by Andrea – 1STA

Games and Gender

People have always told me that gaming is something almost only boys do. But according to this is wrong. is writing that a British survey showed us that forty-four persent of the gamers between sixteen and twenty-four years are girls, and fifty-six persent are boys. I know many girls who play video games, but I thought it was much more common to boys. That is wrong, and from my point of view this is largely because of the prejudices and expectations the community that we live in. Playing video games is not a typical girls-thing, and it has never been. I think some girls who usually play games do not want to tell other about their gaming habits. They may fell that people will judge them because they are girls.

I am positive that almost everybody does some sort of gaming, both girls and boys. But the game genre is different. According to, “Fifa”, “Minecraft” and “Call of duty” are some of the most popular games for boys. Games like “Sims”, “Go Supermodel”, “Sing Star” and “Cash King Islands” are more common to girls. What I have understood by talking to other students is that girls like when games are about interior, clothes and makeup. Many girls I know also like games if you actually have to think a little bit while gaming. When it comes to boys, the impression I have is that they like better when it is action. The most popular video games to boys are very often war and violence related. There are also some games that are popular to both boys and girls. Games like “Hay Day”, “Flappy Bird”, “Tetris”, “Candy Crush” and so on, are examples of games that appeal to both genders. From my point of view, these games are all games without any plot or story. Games without any plot or story have bigger general appeal because most of the persons who play the games do it to make the time to fly past faster.

Some girls play videogames like this, but there are not many.

I can see a big difference between the different people in my class when we are gaming “Civilization 4” at school. A few students have played it before, but it is new to most of us. The people who have played it before are both girls and boys. The boys are much more positive to this way of learning than many of the girls. They are more willing to work at this at home, and many of them also are really trying to understand the point. At the same time, a big part of the girls are surprisingly positive and into “Civilization”.

I am not one hundred present sure why our teachers chose to play “Civilization” with us. This is because I can not understand everything in the game myself, and then it is harder to learn something. But at the same time, I am positive that I can learn something by playing this game. When I learn more how things are working, I will understand more while gaming, and I also think I will learn more.

There are some differences when it comes to strategy when girls play civilization and when boys play civilization. In class I have seen that girls more often want to go in for good economy, science or wonders. What I have understood by talking to other pupils is that boys want to focus on war, weapons and violence. This is also something you can see by looking at boys and girls playing in the real world. In my opinion there is a big connection between the real world and how boys and girls play Civilization IV.


Dahl, I. “Ny undersøkelse: Så mye dataspill spiller unge gutter” (downloaded: 11.04.14)

Grønli, K. “Nye damer i spillverden” (downloaded: 11.04.14)

Written by Ragnhild – 1STA

Heroin or World of Warcraft

Videogames has become a big part of our society today. People use it as entertainment, while they are unaware of how hooked they actually are. Of course not everyone who tries a videogame gets addicted, but stunningly 8.5 percent of the youth living in the U.S. today are addicted to videogames (Griffin McElroy, 2009). Why does videogames have such a big affect on us, compared to books and movies?

Lets take the game “Civilization” as an example. You only get one task: Create your own civilization. It seems simple in the beginning. But suddenly, you are the master. You are responsible for the outcome of all the cities that you made, if they go to war, if they starve or if they are happy. You can even build your own Taj Mahal. Everything is possible, inside this screen of yours. You feel the sense of accomplishment because of the progress you are making. A lot of games are actually made so you will not know when you are getting your next reward, because the player will be less motivated to play when they know it’s a long time to their next accomplishment. In Civilization 4 there is always a new goal to acchieve at every turn: Discovery of a new technology, the building of a new city or even opening a new foreign trade route.

Games have a lot different qualities that make them so addictive. Compared to books and movies you can choose what happens next in videogames, this satisfies the human need for control. Of course every human being is different, with different varieties of desire for control. This is one of the reasons why certain people are more exposed to addiction of all sorts, especially videogame-addiction.

Non-pathological gamers between 8 and 18 spends nearly 15 hours a week on videogames, and studies made by US National Library of Medicine shows that pathological players spend twice as much time in front of their screens than the others. People who are addicted to these kinds of games often have an underlying problem that most likely is the reason for their addiction. Bullying, depression, anxiety and social phobia are some examples of problems that the pathological player can have.

Digital games also have a social side. World of Warcraft for example, which is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game.) Currently, WoW has around 11 million active accounts, which makes it unbelievably easy to make new online “friends”. In this game you can join guilds, do raids, or just walk around in this enormous playing field. When someone is for instance getting bullied its easier to rely on online-friends, instead of real people.

Real life doesn’t have much to compete with when a dyslectic boy who is unpopular in school, can be a mighty Warrior in World of Warcraft. The road is short from being a hero to making gameplaying an easy solution to deal with your real-life problems. Overuse of computer games can be a symptom of something more serious, and it becomes very hard to treat it in real life when the person is already self-medicating with games where they can escape reality.

The addictiveness of computer games is based on a lot of different factors. Even though you can escape from you real life in books and movies, it is easier to escape from reality in videogames. It can become kind of your “second life” because of all the choices you have to make in order to progress. Another factor that doesn’t occur in books and movies are the friends you make. You can find fanbases to bond with over books, but you wont get as tight with each other as when you go on a raid together for example. But the common ground is that they want to escape from something in their real life.

The Economist Newspaper Limited: “What makes videogames so addictive?” (2014):

U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18: a national study” (2009):

AOL Inc: “8.5 percent of U.S. youth addicted to videogames, study finds” (2009):

Written by Ingeborg Monsen 1STA

Reflections – Civilization IV in Class

When we first we’re introduced to the idea of playing video games in class, I must admit I was a bit sceptical. I haven’t really played any video games on the computer before and I wasn’t very fond of the idea of playing games in school, because I’m probably not the best player. However, I did think it would be interesting and even fun to play, that is if I actually could manage to understand the concept of the game and then again understand what I’m doing. I have played a couple of games on playstation and xbox like snowboarding games, buzz, and actually grand theft auto 5 and a little bit call of duty. However, The only games I’ve played on the computer is sims 3 and facebook games. I don’t think any of them have anything to do with civilization IV accept for maeby Sims 3, at least thats the closest I get.

I think games can be used as a learning tool you can learn a lot of different things from playing. From playing civilization IV, you can learn a lot about history and former leaders, how to build a society, how to start and end a war, differences etc.I think playing this video game can be a good way for people to learn these things, and by learning it by playing video games it be much more fun and interesting. By being an actual leader that have existed or still exist, you can learn a lot about about them and how they where or is. People can also get a bigger interest in history by playing this game.

I think you chose to use computer games in our lessons because it would be a new and interesting way to learn, in addition to having fun while learning something new. However I also think you guys like to play video games and when you found out you could use to learn us something, then you just had to take the opportunity to play some more.

My expectations for using Civilization IV in class  is that I would learn something new in a different way than normal. I expect to learn how to play the game and have fun by playing. I think I could learn a lot about history by playing this game.

Reflections – Learning to Play

Nope… Playing to learn

Civilization 4: first impressions

So civilization is this going to be learning or playing, fun or boring? These are the questions swirling in my head when it comes to playing computer games at school. So first: why do I play videogames?

The reason I play videogames at home, is to escape the sometimes-boring moments in everyday life. What will then happen when I play games to do the exact thing I am trying to take a break from? To be honest I think this project might make me loose this free corner of my time where no thinking is needed. But I enjoy playing games, so maybe I will find some kind of crossroad where having fun and not thinking and school and thinking meets. I love the idea of playing games to learn it has been one of the things I have been looking very much forward to this school year. So I just hope that this does not kill either the fun of learning or playing.

What do I think of the game? Civilization is a game where it seems like you need to know what every decision does for you and what it takes away, so it basically need more thinking then all the other games I have played… combined. To become good at this game I plan to watch YouTube videos, read wikipages and guides and later both live and breathe civilization. But and there is a big but, I only do this with games I like, like… like a lot (for example LoL, Skyrim and TF2). Civilization seems like the kind of game it takes many months to learn to play properly, so luckily that is not the point of this assignment.


Bottom line I am looking forward to having a great time with playing and learning, hoping it does not ruin my relations to either of them.

I am a gamer at heart, but that is at home… but maybe just for now  ;)

Written by Øyvind A – 1STA