Gamasutra is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
March 1, 2021
arrowPress Releases

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

 Civ V 's Shafer: Context, Not Historical Accuracy The Goal

Civ V's Shafer: Context, Not Historical Accuracy The Goal

August 11, 2010 | By Staff

August 11, 2010 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

The Civilization series of strategy titles is practically an institution in gaming, with its spiritual traditions of empire-building and historical context. But how thoroughly does it incorporate actual history -- particularly with the newest installment, upcoming Civilization V?

"Historical accuracy, per se, is not really a goal," says Civ V lead designer John Shafer in a new Gamasutra feature. "We definitely try to use history as a framework. One good example of that is the social policies tree, which are part of the game for the first time."

Instead, the game structure is contextualized in branching paths, where each is themed: "There are ten pathways you can take, and each of them is roughly historical in the time that it appears," Shafer explains. "So, late in the game, there's the autocracy branch, which is focused on the rise of fascism and dictatorships. That was something that we knew we wanted to put in the late game, because it doesn't fit earlier."

"It's something that draws you into the game," he says, when players can correlate ideas and events with specific periods in time. "It draws you in, and you say, 'That seems familiar. I remember hearing about that.' It's not historically accurate per se, but it does draw upon the history to be interesting."

But the historical context isn't any less important for the removal of specificity, Shafer says. "You know, if you took out all of the history of Civilization, it would be a very bland experience. You might have great gameplay, but it's just not going to be the same as when you recognize things."

"That's one of the reasons having the leaders is great," he continues. "You recognize the characters. 'Oh, that's George Washington. I know George Washington.' If you just had nameless, faceless characters, it would be a very different experience. History is very important, but not the most important element. You need both."

Our full feature interview with Shafer, who at 25 years of age is leading the title's design for the first time, is now live at Gamasutra.

Related Jobs

Crate Entertainment
Crate Entertainment — Boston (Work Remotely), Massachusetts, United States

Senior Gameplay / Engine Programmer
DigiPen Institute of Technology
DigiPen Institute of Technology — Redmond, Washington, United States

Curriculum Developer in Visual Effects for Real-Time Engines
Sucker Punch Productions
Sucker Punch Productions — Bellevue, Washington, United States

Audio Programmer
Deep Silver Volition
Deep Silver Volition — Champaign, Illinois, United States

Studio Production Director

Loading Comments

loader image