Holy Moley, Will This Crap Never End?
Hum. Interesting. May I sally forth with a couple guesses?:
1) I bet slavery isn't mentioned at all in the formation of these new "civilizations." Forget the fact that the "civilizations" of the "New World" could never have been built with the vigor, speed and structure they posses today with out the use of millions upon millions of African and African-American human beings employed as sub-human chattels.
2) I bet the "natives" are pretty stereotyped, as would be indicated by the image of the standard Plains Indian (who are the dominant imaginaire's stand-in for all 550+ Indian Nations in the US, let alone Canada, Mexico, or the rest of the Americas.)
3) I bet colonization is only ever a good thing in this game. You think they depict colonists setting up shop and then, a year after the establishment of their village, a pop-up window appears with something to the effect of: "Good news! European diseases transmitted by your colony to the local indigenous population have killed off approximately 90% of the surrounding hostiles. Time to start negotiating for land rights!"?
I'm kinda doubting it.
Cristina M. Perez: Rated "E" for Everyone...well, isn't that sweet.
We wouldn't want to leave anyone out of all the fun that colonization brings now would we?
Dameun Strange: I am not surprised. All of these games are very useful for those who continue to perpetually recolonize the lands of brown-skinned peoples. Not surprised at all. We still haven't learned the bad lessons of colonization and I doubt this game will be the beginning of the lesson.
Terra Equality Hartwell: Do you think some shmuck made a video game about the Nazis killing Jewish people during the holocaust?? It wouldn't surprise me since games about killing Indians are so damn fun and popular!! Where does the line get drawn...?
Zenith Cole: I am still a little shocked that this exists...and I just bet that ignorant folks would buy it for their children to perpetuate that ignorance!
Brian Bull: I can't speak for the version you're writing about, Leah. But actually I did play one of the earliest incarnations of it back in the late 90s, and enjoyed it. In a reverse twist, I assumed the role of Montezuma and conquered Europe. The rules actually allow that, and there was no reference to enslaving citizens. There are also options to negotiate peacefully and set up trade relations so it's not all war, battle, etc. That said, I can't speak for this version you're seeing in the store and if it matches your impressions, that's pretty bad.
Comment: Brian Bull is referring to playing Civilization, not Colonization. Since Colonization is part of the Civilization series, we don't know how different it is from its predecessors.
Like Leah Bowe, I haven't played Colonization either, but we can deduce some things from its packaging.
For starters, the game obviously glorifies the idea of colonization. The glowing light of the image reeks of "civilization" being delivered to a savage land.
The reverse side of the package shows ships with American-flag sails and the slogan "Create a New Nation." If it were honest, it would say, "Invade and Conquer Inhabited Lands," or, "Create a New Nation by Destroying Old Nations."
British soldiers and frontiersmen are shown prominently, which suggests the game is about European powers jostling for power. Given the Anglo-American ships and colonizers, the implication is strong that Anglo Americans are destined to rule the continent. Apparently the Spanish, French, and Dutch don't have much of a chance, and the (invisible) Indians don't have any chance at all.
The game's Plains-style chief ("How!") and teepees are a joke. The colonizers didn't reach the Plains until 25 or 50 years after the USA was born. For the first 200 or so years, the Spanish dealt with California and Southwestern Indians, the Spanish and French dealt with Southeastern Indians, and the French and British dealt with Northeastern Indians. Of the hundreds of different tribes they encountered, none were Plains Indians.
I suspect the game does have options to trade and negotiate with Indian tribes, to court them as political and military allies, etc. Even so, the questions Bowe raises are good ones. Does the game show the colonizers lying and cheating the Indians of their land, and killing or enslaving the uncooperative ones? Does it show the Indians rising up against the colonists to defend their way of life? Does it let the Indians combine forces and vanquish the colonists, as they could've done at several points?
Similarly, as Bowe notes, does it show the Southern colonies and Caribbean islands building themselves via the slave trade? Does it allow for the indigenous revolts and revolutions that occurred throughout Latin America? I doubt it.
If it's missing these Native and African American components, it's a fairy-tale version of history. It's "teaching" the age-old myth that the Americas were available for the taking. It's rationalizing and justifying the dominant American belief that our ancestors did nothing wrong when they invaded and conquered the "New World."
For more debates on colonization, see Bitter Over Hudson Anniversary, Educating Tony About Genocide, and No History of Canadian Colonialism?! For more on video games, see Mayans in The Settlers and Video Games Featuring Indians.