Throughout my years as a designer, I have spoken with journalists and fans to represent games I worked on as well as my personal design philosophy. Below is a selection of videos and articles.
GDC 2022 Speaker – Ahistorical Accuracy: Bringing New Myths and Representation to Civilization
For thirty years, the Civilization series has mixed historical accuracy with ahistorical fantasy. Players have delighted equally in recreating the Roman Empire and in sending Aztecs to the moon. A huge strength of procedural games is offering players intriguing narrative puzzle pieces, and letting them put those pieces together in their own unique way. It takes restraint on the designer’s part to stop short of telling the player’s story on their behalf.
But what happens when designers add actual fantastical elements to the game, like mythical heroes and secret societies with almost magical powers? More broadly, how can they include characters and myths from cultures that are historically underrepresented? What repercussions does this have for cultural representation, fan expectation, and the fictional grounding of the game?
Reddit – Thank You post for fans of Civilization, after a year of live ops during COVID-19
As a Venezuelan playing as Simon Bolivar was the first time I’d ever seen someone who talks like me and music and people from my culture and history presented in videos games as anything other than a villain. I think the only other time I’d seen Venezuela come up was in COD where we were cookie cutter terrorists for the player to shoot at. I don’t think it clicked how much I wanted that kind of representation until I saw it so thank you. I love the dedication you put into the civs and leaders and only hope you can continue to do that for other cultures too.u/pflz
Thank you for a truly beautiful work of art that has caused this healthcare IT worker some respite during a terribly stressful time. I appreciate you, I sincerely hope there is more Civ VI content to come. If not, know Civ VI will hold a special place in my game library for as long as compatibility allows. Thank you for allowing me thousands of hours of enjoyment when many other forms of entertainment couldn’t.u/PhotoCropDuster
Firaxis – March 2021 Developer Update
Steam – Digital Tabletop Fest Design Discussion
Firaxis – September 2020 Developer Livestream
Firaxis – September 2020 Developer Update
Firaxis – August 2020 Developer Update
Firaxis – June 2019 Patch Update Preview
Game User Research Summit – 2018 Keynote Panel
PC Gamer Weekender – Design postmortem panel of Rise and Fall expansion
Famitsu – Interview about Civilization VI (Japanese)
Slate – Interview about Mars zeitgeist and science victory
That realization led to a minor, but still significant, movement forward in Civilization VI. Thanks in large part to its growing place in the zeitgeist, Mars struck Strenger as a more plausible intermediary destination. It was also, he realized, very much on people’s minds, thanks to both fictional works such as The Martian and real-world initiatives to land astronauts on its surface—including one sponsored by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. (Incidentally, Musk has expressed enthusiasm for Civilization.) Instead of concluding the game with “generational ships or faster than light travel,” Strenger started to think that the red planet might make for a more realistic conclusion, one in line with the traditional mid-21st-century terminus of the games. Alpha Centauri was out as a goal, and Mars was in.
If he was going to shake things up, though, he wanted to make sure they got the science right—at least within reason. To that end, he solicited the help of Joel Green, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who has come by Firaxis’ studio to deliver talks on topics such as planet formation. Strenger and Green sat down over lunch with Beach—who cites Carl Sagan’s Cosmos as one of his inspirations for becoming a programmer—and another designer. Together, the trio quizzed Green on the state of astrophysical research. Green, a lifelong gamer who’s been playing the Civilization series since its first installment, told me he was delighted to find himself “sitting in a conference room with sandwiches with these guys for hours, drawing equations on the board.”
IGN – Civilization VI let’s play (2 parts)
Firaxis – Civilization VI gameplay reveal livestream
PAX Prime – Beyond Earth game panel
PAX East – Beyond Earth announcement panel
IGN – Empires of the Smoky Skies scenario interview
Strenger himself developed a lot of the base ideas for the civilopedia early on as well, because “establishing what the world was would be important. As a steampunk scenario it’s kind of in-between true history of the base game, and kind of something crazy left-field science fantasy.” Thus to place it properly Strenger developed a more fleshed out backstory, something he hopes will help players get into it since it rides the line between fantasy and reality.