The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Academics and Game Addictions

June 2, 2005

Dan Drezner reveals that he was (is?) a Civilization addict:

Occasionally, despite my mental efforts, one of these activities sneaks it’s way through my defenses. I’m convinced that had I not gotten hooked on Sid Meier’s Civilization game, I’d have another article somewhere on my cv. [What about blogging?–ed. A more complex answer — I’d probably have another article or two, but the articles on outsourcing and blogging would not be there either.]

Now, I must admit that I’m a bit dubious about being addicted to Civilization III. Did Dan escape the snares of Civilization I and Civilization II, or was he merely a latecomer to Sid Meier games?

Without a doubt, Europa Universalis II cost me more hours in lost productivity than any other computer game. I warn all International Relations scholars who are both interested in historical world politics and have a gaming bent to keep far, far away from it.

Good simulation of diplomatic parameters, balancing behavior, the chronic instability of early modern states, trade competition, religious dynamics, and lots of opportunity to create historical counterfactuals (so what might have happened if the French Crown had converted to Calvinism anyway? If China had turned towards outward exploration? If the Eastern Roman Empire survived and turned the tide against the Turks?). In sum, a nightmare for an International Relations nerd.

For me, it was like “playing” my dissertation. If a dissertation could be a really, really fun game.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.