In her article titled “Guns, Germs, and Heroes: Cultural Exchange in Sid Meiers Colonization,” Rebecca Mir argues that the game Colonization is a tool to indoctrinate players with a skewed version of history that justifies suppression of native North American populations, as well as the stripping of their cultural identities for purposes of assimilation. The title of the game suggests that it is intentionally designed to be offensive, as there are certain key historical facts left out by the designers that indicate the game’s active promotion of misconceptions about American history. She supports her claim by providing critique of certain attributes of the game that are laid out below.
Mir examines the contrast between the way exchange of cultures and influences take place in the simulated game, and how those exchanges actually took place as indicated by history. For instance, she explains that the game does not take into account the fact that up to ninety percent of the native population perished shortly after the arrival of European colonizers. She also attempts to reveal how the game serves as an “ideological model of the idea of Colonization” rather than a simulation that equips the colonized with the capability to fight back and defend their land. Such is the case because the game intentionally presents the natives with traits that make them less playable than the colonizers. Mir states that native leaders in the game project such personality traits as “impressionable, indulgent, gracious, prosperous, and mentor,” while the colonizers are explained as “libertarian, tolerant, disciplined, enterprising,” etc.
That being said, there are certain attributes of the game that are indeed historically verifiable. For example, the game sets up players to trade technology and horses, which leads to cross-cultural exchanges between the natives and the colonizers. However, history also suggests “trading supplies and technologies with other cultures for centuries process no messy hybridized identities or beliefs.” In other words, assimilation of the kind witnessed among native populations following the advent of colonial conquest was a function of forcibly stripping people of their cultural identity.
Although these are no comments reported on the blog, and neither have I played this game before, I do think that critical examination of video games and many other mediums of indoctrination needs to be welcome so that misinformed notions about our history can be eradicated to the best of our ability.