Civilization IV
By Sid Meier

Historical Strategy Game
Multi-player computer or online game rating: 11+
ESRB rating: E10

The game starts by selecting an available historical leader. Some choices are Alexander the Great, Hatshepsut of Egypt, Catherine the Great, or even Washington. There are many great historical leaders to choose from. They are all politically correct, although the globe is randomly generated. You choose how many computer players and real players are in the game. Then the goal of winning is decided. Choices include conquering the world (which is usually violent) or a peaceful diplomacy victory where everyone votes you as the best nation. Another winning goal might be going to space. You are given a settler to start a village and either a warrior or a scout. You must work the land to feed your people, mine for minerals to create roads, and tax your cities to fund expansion. At the beginning, you must create more settlers before the land is snatched up by your neighbors. If you don’t colonize the land, you must expand through expensive wars. All of your cities can crumble into riot if the settlers don’t like the way you manage the cities.

From this game, my sons have a familiarization with historical world leaders. They have learned economics, about slavery and a caste system, environmentalism (which makes your city happy but is very expensive), minerals and technology, legal systems, different forms of government, and religion. It is a strategic game that my sons compare to chess. This game has the side benefit of reading and writing to communicate to the other players. My youngest son started playing this when he was seven. To communicate with his father to ask for, say, more money, he would have to write. For a child who was not motivated by books and forced to write at school, it showed him the usefulness of learning to read and write. Just like there is a book for everyone, there are different ways of learning. Some kids learn passively through books. My son needed more stimuli. Civilization was the motivation he needed to actively become literate.