The secrets of Sid Meier

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Dan Drezner shares some of the secrets of Sid Meier gleaned from The Weekly Standard‘s latest cover story:

Meier cites the strategy board game Risk as one of his major influences. “Conquer the world. All those cool pieces. You felt like you were king. It gave you a lot of power.” What about the game Diplomacy? “You had to have friends to play Diplomacy so that kind of left me out.”….

This surprised me a bit:

When Meier is not playing and testing his products, he spends his time with his wife and 16-year-old son (with whom he enjoys other videogames, like Guitar Hero). He plays keyboards and jams with a band consisting of members from his local church. The band’s name is Faith Unlimited. The church he and his wife attend is Lutheran.

Religion plays a major role in Civilization and can be more vital to victory than military prowess. Competing civilizations can send out missionaries, found a religion, create temples, cathedrals, and even launch crusades. Meier is quick to point out, however, that the role of religion is just another dimension to gameplay. The same goes for choosing nuclear power or heading a government that isn’t democratic–you could opt to run a fascist or Communist regime, though these choices all have consequences. (Your citizens may be less happy, but also less prone to rioting thanks to your secret police force.)

Nevertheless, Meier’s faith puts him at odds with other game-design geniuses like John Carmack, John Romero, and Will Wright, who are all avowed atheists (and Meier is, incidentally, the only one from this group to have graduated from college). To be sure, Meier has the utmost respect for them and their pioneering work. But it is yet another factor that sets him apart.

Leave a Reply