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Ahistorical Accuracy: Bringing New Myths and Representation to 'Civilization'

Anton Strenger  (Lead Designer, Firaxis Games)

Location: Room 209, South Hall

Date: Friday, March 25

Time: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: No

For thirty years, the Civilization series has mixed historical accuracy with ahistorical fantasy. Players have delighted equally in recreating the Roman Empire and in sending Aztecs to the moon. A huge strength of procedural games is offering players intriguing narrative puzzle pieces, and letting them put those pieces together in their own unique way. It takes restraint on the designer's part to stop short of telling the player's story on their behalf.

But what happens when designers add actual fantastical elements to the game, like mythical heroes and secret societies with almost magical powers? More broadly, how can they include characters and myths from cultures that are historically underrepresented? What repercussions does this have for cultural representation, fan expectation, and the fictional grounding of the game?

Come learn how the Civilization design team tackled these challenges amidst a transition to live ops.


Best practices for playing with and expanding representation within an established IP without undermining what makes it special. Recommendations for and examples of how to add procedural layers to a game such that they enrich a player's story, but have minimal impact on cognitive load and mechanical complexity.

Intended Audience

Designers of all stripes, with no prerequisite knowledge required. Systems designers, designers of procedural games, designers involved in live ops, and narrative designers will find particular resonance with the talk.