This is the first in a collection of pieces designed to shed light on (in)famous aspects of Civilization, the seminal strategy saga, and one of my personal favourite game series of all time. Some of you will be familiar with the content already, some will not. Hopefully you will all find it an entertaining read.
Ah Mahatma Gandhi. Famed for his anti-colonialist peaceful movement that began the process of leading India towards a modern super-state. In the Civilization series, however, Gandhi is a bit of an arsehole. He’s famed in strategy circles for his aggressive pursuit of nuclear armaments, which he then spends the rest of the game either threatening you with, or dropping on everyone he finds. But why is he like this? Why is someone who is so famous for his peaceful approach to geopolitics so impossibly aggressive in what is, after all, designed to be a semi-realistic journey through conflict, technological progression and diplomacy.
It all started with the very first game, and a glitch that was to become notorious in certain circles. As with many in-game stats, a civilizations aggression is measured on a numerical scale. Due to Gandhi’s real world penchant for peace, he was given the lowest possible aggression score – a paltry 1 out of 255. The issue arose when the Indians adopted democracy, as this advancement reduces any given nations aggression score by 2, it left the pacifist leader on an aggression score of -1. The game’s code does not allow this, forcing the score to go back around to the highest possible number, essentially turning Gandhi into the lovechild of Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan.
Of course, this issue was addressed in all subsequent games but, as a tribute to what was a very funny manifestation of happenstance, the developers kept a number of remnants of Mahatma the Impaler, from Civilization II onward. Even up to the most recent games in the series, Gandhi’s likelihood of pushing the big red button is considerably greater than that of the next most aggressive civilization. This issue has become so amusingly prevalent that the beloved figurehead has been memed relentlessly:
That being said, the developer’s of the newer games haven’t strayed entirely from his real life persona. He is still the least likely to start a war with anyone, and is a brilliant ally should you be able to persuade him to become one. He is, however, a wholly unforgiving world leader, and he won’t pause for thought before irradiating your entire civilization, usually if he disapproves of your own aggressive actions. That being said, his distaste for protracted war usually leads to his pursuit of victory through other means than domination, either cultural or scientific. As well as this, Indian cities tend to become extremely populous, as in real life, but its nice that in the pursuit of strategy based realism, there is still room for a bit of madness amongst the method.