Friday, April 25, 2008


A conflict involving the organized use of arms and physical force between countries or other large-scale armed groups. The warring parties hold territory, which they can win or lose; and each has a leading person or organization which can surrender, or collapse, thus ending the war.~~Wiktionary

When things are a little overwhelming on the writing front, I occasionally take a break and play a computer game called Age of Empires. I play the game in single player mode which means that I play against seven opponents who are picked at random from a possible twenty. My nationality is also picked at random and the playing field (topography and climate) is a random choice. My weapons and capabilities (soldiers, buildings, armor) are all determined by the nationality that I draw.

The things that I have control over are how I distribute and use my resources, how I arrange my "town", and whether or not I attack my neighbors. In single player mode, it is a given that they will attack me.

Why? Well, the object of the game is to capture five relics and hold them a specific amount of time or build a Wonder and keep it intact for that same specific amount of time. The opponents are trying to take the relics away or blow up my wonder.

That's the basis of the game--much like real war. War in the real world is about taking something away from somebody else (oil, gold, resources, religious freedom) or destruction of their wealth (oil, gold, resources, religious freedom).

I have learned much by playing the game. In the initial stages, you build a town, set your villagers to work mining, logging, and farming, and building your defenses. This stage of the game is about balance. Without enough wood you can't build the mining camp or logging camp or a farm. Without enough food you can't add villagers or soldiers. Without stone you can't build walls to defend your town.

By the second stage in the game, your neighbors begin to attack your village. At that point you must become ruthless in defending your town or your neighbors will wipe you out. I find that over time as I've gradually learned how to play the game that I've become something of a bully. My villagers roam around stealing stone and wood from my neighbors. My scout steals their sheep. I burn down their buildings if they are too close to my walls. My towers kill their villagers if they wander to close to my walls. And though it is a game, I'm vaguely uncomfortable with my aggressiveness.

In the beginning when I was learning to play the game, I tried all the various game modes, including one where you must totally wipe out your opponents in order to win. At that time, I wasn't quite ruthless enough to least not in a reasonable amount of time. After playing one game for eight hours and finding myself no where near an end, I decided that I would have to play a mode that was at least possible to win or lose in a couple of hours.

In the final stage of the game, you build a Wonder (large building) after you accumulate enough resources. In this game, there are no loan companies to help you so if you squander your resources, you end up sacrificing a lot of soldiers and villagers in order to obtain more resources. After all, someone has to pay for your lack of management. Right?

I suppose you're wondering by now why I'm nattering on about this game. It's simple enough. It's a life lesson in war and peace. From the dawn of time, there have been wars. Peace is a fragile thing, easily lost when people are hungry or thirsty or without shelter. A war for territory and resources is at least easily understood. There are wars fought to stop genocide and slavery. While one could wish that there was another way, again those wars are logical. There are wars fought in self-defense or vengeance. Again--understandable, if regrettable.

But there are those leaders who willingly enter war for one reason. They want what another has, not out of need but out of greed. There is no nobility in war. But of all reasons to fight a war, I think that greed is the most deplorable. Men and women die because of one person's drive to take what is not his. So you might say that the war is fought to enable theft. Ultimately, that is the type of warfare in most games we play--whether it's a board game or computer game, it's still a game based on acquiring what belongs to someone else.

I find it interesting that we play out reality in our fantasy. Nearly every game out there is about acquiring wealth through war. I wonder...

What kind of game would it be if we had to negotiate peace to win?


Check out Amarinda and Kelly and OhGetAGrip! Blessings on your day!


  1. Unfortunately there will never be peace as too many people like playing real war games and to them life is expendable.

  2. Too bad they can't all just play this game against one another instead of sacrificing real lives.

  3. You are ever so deep this morning, Anny. What's up?

  4. Even though I'm ex-Air Force, I now feed and help the poor in my day job. Although I know sometimes there's no choice in real life but to fight or bullies will burn us down and wipe us out, I think people should share abundance with their neighbors who don't have it. Thus I could foresee peace IF a lot of people are willing to share. I don't think we'll see complete peace in our lifetimes though.