Civilization V and Augmented Reality

I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, and don’t misread my intention, the technology is all well and good and I daresay cool but there’s something that’s been bothering me since the ol’ Google Glasses thing a few weeks back.

The photo above is via this post by @Sidv who is a cool guy and I do want to give him mad props for the post itself – it is an idyllic future.


I’m not sure I want it.

Time to relate something seemingly unrelated: last weekend was Easter and I pilgrimaged to my hometown in search of chocolate and ham and had the pressing excitement because I’d finally get some time to play Civ 5, which I had bought on Steam sale over a month ago and was promptly pushed to the wayside in shadow of actually important things. This post isn’t really a review of said game, because lots of people like it and my point doesn’t really apply to those who do / those who know what they’re doing. For my n00b level there are these advisers that inform you of the things you should be doing and hold your hand throughout your civilization’s evolution. This is nice because I’d be entirely lost without them, but I can’t help but feel like the game isn’t really mine anymore. Like I’m just a lackey that pushes the buttons they tell me to push. It’s not really a game anymore as much as it’s a list of instructions. Like, they should just press the buttons for me and play out the whole simulation and then tell me at the end if I won or lost. It’d be like flipping a coin and getting excited for the outcome.

Sure, it’s my fault I don’t know enough to fly solo, but my metaphor stands: augmented reality is a double edged sword that could downplay the more intuitive parts of life. The parts, I’d argue, that are the most rewarding and enjoyable. The marathon runners in the photo above; is it really a race if you know exactly how much energy everyone has? You’re just reading bars at that point. The point of the race is to try and outplay the opponents. Are they saving their energy for a sprint near the end? Are they actually in a comfortable lead, or did they waste it all running off the line? It’d be like playing poker while seeing everyone’s cards or… flipping a coin and getting excited for the outcome.

Translated signage in other countries? Awesome. I love that. But I’d still play hard mode and do my best to learn the language, because that’s part of going to another country: learning culture that isn’t yours. I can stay home and read English signage anytime.

Maps? Cool. There have definitely been times where I’d have liked a map on my journeys, but I look back on some of my best memories and a surprising amount of them have occurred when I’ve been lost. It’s a triumph to find a landmark or something and figure it out. It’s a spacial puzzle. A big maze that you get to walk around in. Explore. I love exploring.

So I don’t want to be down on the technology, I am really excited for it. I’m just not sure I want the things in my life doing everything for me. It’s fun living on the edge, and it’s sad that walking through the streets without a map is considered “living on the edge”.

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