"eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate": Affective Writing of Postcolonial History and Education in Civilization V


Civilization V as one of the most successful and definitive works of the 4X videogame genre presents a clear narrative of empire-building that, I will argue, is problematic when set against postcolonial theory. With many studies lauding the series for its educational capacities I argue that with an affective turn to the role of the player, the game’s homogenization of narratives of societal progression reinforces a Western-centric notion of history. This co-opts non-colonial societies into imperialism, while in the process silencing their histories. For this study, I will read the game’s goals and mechanics through postcolonial theorists such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Michel-Rolph Trouillot, and then turn to affect theory to consider what role the player takes in writing this history. To conclude, I will consider what implications this has on the use of 4X games like Civilization V for education and the conception of history in the minds of the players, drawing on other recent scholars who have similarly problematized the series.

Game Studies