“eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate”: Affective writing of postcolonial history and education in Civilization V

1 Dec 2016·
Dom Ford
Dom Ford
· 0 min read
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, 16(2)
Dom Ford
Postdoctoral Researcher
My research focuses on myth, digital game communities, monsters, spatiality and the representation and depiction of history and the past (both real and fictional histories) in digital games.