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Computer Can Play Civilization After Reading The Instruction Manual

Scientists at MIT have undertaken the righteous goal of trying to raise computer literacy. No, not how many people understand and can use computers, but rather, how well computers can read. In their experiment, they "handed" a computer a copy of the instruction manual for the strategy game Civilization II , gave it ample time to read up (2 or 3 seconds if Short Circuit is any indication) and told it to start playing. Impressively enough, it proceeded to win 79% of the games it played, which is, according to my meticulous calculations, almost as high as a human geek. This is a really impressive example of software that can be used not only to take in and parse text, but also put it into some sort of context and use it, instead of just storing it somewhere. That last bit is what will probably lead to the robot apocalypse. Civ isn't a particularly simple game either, which highlights the computer's ability to construct a pretty solid algorithm from words that were never intended for a computer. Also, it's worth mentioning that the instruction manual must have been exhaustive and extremely well written in order to serve as an apt introduction of Civ to an entity that probably didn't even know what a game was before it started reading. Props to you, manual writer, may your future projects not lead to robots learning how to effectively defeat humans 79% of the time. (via Gamasutra)

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Facebook Game Civilization World Tries to Bridge the Gap Between Hardcore and Casual Gamers. It Doesn't

Legendary game developer Sid Meier's newest installment in the venerable Civilization franchise was supposed to be a big deal. It was supposed to be Civilization, but on Facebook -- Sid Meier's gaming genius unleashed upon the unsuspecting FarmVille, social, casual gaming masses. It may not have seemed like it, but some gamers knew Civilization World could've turned the tide of gaming, bridging the gap between casual and hardcore gamers, becoming a gateway game to the wonderful world of what hardcore gamers would call "real" gaming -- something Nintendo attempted with the Wii, but never quite achieved.

I've been loyally playing Civilization since it was released back in 1991. I was born in 1984. I built an entire scenario in Civilization II with the rudimentary map editors. I never succumbed to unhappy citizens in Civilization III, and I played Civilization IV -- easily the best installment in the franchise -- for more hours than most people play any singular thing. I was ranked in the top 10 on the head-to-head leaderboard for the PlayStation 3 Civilization Revolution, the franchise's surprisingly successful attempt at building a Civ that actually worked on consoles rather than PCs, for as long as I actively played said installment. I was also disappointed and underwhelmed by the recent Civilization V, like any good Civ fan. I know Civ, and after Civilization Revolution's successful attempt at translating the game to a faster-paced, slightly more casual crowd, I was looking forward to see what happened with Civ World. Despite my two decades of loyalty, Civ World would not let me into the closed Beta no matter how many times I applied. After the game recently launched its public Beta about a week ago and finally getting my hands on the product, the conspiracist in me thinks he knows why they didn't let me into the closed Beta: Because I am a Civ fan, made that very clear on my closed Beta applications, and so far, this game is, sadly, not worth my time and the dev team knew how I'd feel. Funny thing is, it doesn't seem worth the casual Facebook gamer's time either.

So, if you care about Civilization, Facebook, casual gaming, or the metanarrative of hardcore and casual gaming, head on past the jump, and don't worry, the post isn't as long as it seems. There are a bunch of screenshots.

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Civilization IV is First Video Game Nominated for Grammy

Composer Christopher Tin received a Grammy Award nomination for the song "Baba Yetu," the theme song for the stellar Civilization IV, making this the first time in history a video game has been nominated for a Grammy. The song, performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir, was nominated for the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists category. You can listen to the song after the jump.

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Geekolinks: 8/6

Director of Kanye’s “Power” Music Video Created a Elevator That Travels From Hell to Heaven

There's got to be a reason why Kanye West so wanted to specifically order Persian rugs with cherub imagery, and that reason may just be the director of his newest music video, Marco Brambilla. "Power," most recently and fittingly used in a trailer for The Social Network, was released yesterday as a controversially heaven-themed music video. Yet no one can deny the video's--or as Kanye calls it, the "painting's"--visual spectacle: King Kanye stands tall in the center of a heavenly tableau, a golden statue of the Egyptian god Horus slung around his neck, and the camera slowly pulls back to reveal an orgy of female "angels." Needless to say, wet toga contest ensues.

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Civilization Box Art Through the Ages

The box art for Civilization V was revealed today. We explore the evolution of Civ box art:

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Civilization V Has A Release Date: September 21st

Professors, if you're wondering why some previously very bright and organized students start turning in rushed or no assignments this September, I have the culprit. Civilization V is going to come out on September 21st.

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Civilization V is Coming! And the Map Finally Uses Hexagons!

In an announcement that is surprising no one, Firaxis has announced that Civilization V is under development. And while much is being made of the game's promised features -- including additional civilizations, leaders who speak in their native tongues, and long-range bombardment by units (but wait, wasn't that in Alpha Centauri a decade ago?) -- no one seems to be covering the drastic change apparent in the screenshots. That's right -- the map uses hexagons instead of squares! What is this, some Avalon Hill monstrosity? Sid Meier must be rolling in his #9 Power Grid slot.

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There Goes Your Work Day: Civilization Now Available in Browsers, on iPhone

Today was going to be MMO-focused, what with the launch of Star Trek Online and the debut of our associated Power Grid, but an unexpected deluge of Civilization-related news has turned this into Civ Day (or...We Love the King Day?)

Anyway: FreeCiv, the open-source member the Civilization family, is now available for free, in your browser. Forget Battlefield: Heroes and browser Quake -- this is how the twenty-something creative underclass should be wasting its daylight hours.

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