3c. Age of Empires 

Age of Empires screenshot

The Wargame
Age of Empires is Microsoft's entry into the real-time strategy game market.  In the standard game, a player picks one of twelve civilizations.  The player then attempts to lead this civilization to world domination through exploiting natural resources, increasing population, acquiring new technology, and destroying competing civilizations. (Again note, the game was created by Microsoft).  The game begins with a single player controlling three villagers foraging for food in the stone age, and usually ends in the iron age with the clash of huge armies.

While the specific role of the game is not realistic (the player is apparently a disembodied civilization-specific controlling intellect), there are some fog of war and information-limiting effects that are usually present in role-simulations.

Subjective Evaluation by Purposes 
(on a to scale)

Model Exploration:  
Strategic Skill Development:   
Simulation Immersion:  
Policy Formation:  

The model of Age of Empires is far too cartoonish to serve as a reliable predictor of real conflict.  Rarely are entire civilizations comprised of a maximum of 50 persons.  Aggregation might be thought to explain the low unit numbers, but part of the fun of the game is watching each villager chop wood, pick berries, or wander about, which belies the idea that the village is representative of thousands.  The game has a dual nature: on one hand, it offers intense realism and on the other, it is premised on massive abstraction.  Still, if one can get over this hurdle, the game offers a highly enjoyable strategic exercise.  The need to discover new supplies of raw material and advance technology while still allocating sufficient resources to defense and growth creates some interesting possibilities for strategy, especially when the game is played over the internet in multiplayer mode against three others.  The game also familiarizes players with some slight educational information about the components of ancient warfare and the relative military strengths of various civilizations.  This is compromised, however, by the general indifference to historical accuracy and the random creation of the terrain.

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