A while ago I started playing Forge of Empires. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten involved in any kind of digital game, at least not since getting addicted to Pong when I should have been studying, back in library school.
The game has you go through different time periods, starting in the Stone Age, all the way through the far future. You get a little piece of land, a “town hall”, which in the Stone Age is an eclectic structure made of mammoth tusks, sticks and hides, and a few Mammoth hunter-style tents, also made of mammoth tusks and hides.
As you play the game, you get coins and forge points, with which you can expand your village, trading goods with others along the way, until you get to the next age. You go on expeditions to find new land, which you can conquer with an army, or you can negotiate with goods. You can also get forge points and other goodies if you fight battles for your guild.
It gets quite involved, and maybe that was one of the reasons I decided early on to take it easy and stay in the Bronze Age. But my main reason was that I didn’t want an army; I didn’t want to go to war or attack my neighbors. I was having fun just arranging and rearranging my people’s town hall, my huts and my craftsmen’s workshops until it looked as aesthetic, logical and practical as possible. I created dirt tracks, and the empty spaces I filled up with trees and shrubs, which were also essential for keeping my people happy. Because if you don’t have enough happy items or buildings, your people start to murmur and they don’t work as hard.
Anyway, I was perfectly content hanging out in my cute little Bronze Age village, which actually reminded me more of a Robin Hood village–and I’ve always been a big fan of all things Robin Hood. I did like the expansions, because I wanted my village to reach the water. After all, it makes more sense to have a village near water rather than in the middle of nowhere.
But I remained determined that this was as far as I’d go. No armies and conquering and all that other empire stuff.
However, it turns out that playing the game automatically gets you into the next time period, whether you want to or not. And the Iron Age was all Roman white marble. The moment I entered the Iron Age my town hall automatically became this gleaming white, blocky monstrosity–an absolute eyesore. It was an incentive to get through to the early Middle Ages as quickly as possible.
By now I’m in the High Middle Ages, approaching the Late Middle Ages. And guess what? I have an army, which I keep as up-to-date as I can afford. I go gleefully to battle in guild expeditions, because I can get more forge points and other goodies that way. I need those forge points, because expansion is addictive. One expansion is a mere 4×4 piece of land, the size required for my average granite mason’s building. Still, when I first get a new expansion, the possibilities seem endless. I can spend hours, in advance and once I’ve got it, deciding how best to use it.
I gradually learned that having a “great building” also gets me forge points and other stuff I need to keep getting bigger. These great buildings take up a lot of space, so I ended up temporarily taking away the streets from my residential area. My peeps can just climb over one another’s roofs to get to work, what do I care?
So here you have me, mostly a bleeding-heart, tree-hugging, anti-war lib’ral, starting off intent on just hanging out peacefully in my little village, and now I can barely wait for the next opportunity to send my vicious army off to kick someone’s ass for more forge points, and I have no qualms taking basic necessities away from my townsfolk if it will get me further ahead.
Watch for my next post to see what this has to do with Trump. Because, like it or not, right now everything has to do with Trump.