Types of Fun in Vicky 2

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On the back of the box of the first Age of Empires there was some marketing spiel that went 'Play as the guiding spirit of a stone age civilization…' It might have been just a rhetorical flourish (if the competition is saying 'play a king!' saying 'play a guiding spirit!' is an improvement) but whatever it was it did cut to the heart of what you were actually doing in the game. No king ever sat above his peasants and ordered them to chop specific trees. 'Guiding spirit' is much more accurate a description of what you were actually doing. 

In Victoria 2 your position is just as ill-defined, and this ill-definition confuses some people. One of my friends said that he had only recently figured out (after playing Victoria and the sequel for a combined total of a couple of years) that in the event of a successful rebellion (that is, one where your capitol is taken and your government changes) you don't actually lose the game. I figured this out way earlier because I was much lazier of a player than he was- I let some rebels take over on purpose and then discovered, to my delight, that I was still in control, just with a different ruling clique. I kept playing with a fascist government or whatever it was. 

My friend (and I, until my revelation) had been thinking in the traditional strategy mode- protect the base, because if anyone takes it it's game over. Certainly being as disinterested as I was in a game of Starcraft would lose you the match. And my friend imagined that Victoria 2 was operating on the same assumptions. The fact that Victoria 2 doesn't operate on those assumptions, that it does, in fact, cast you as the 'guiding spirit' of a modern nation, is one of the game's real strengths. Instead of a straightforward me-versus-them contest, the player doesn't really exist in the gameworld (in fact, some people play entire games of Victoria 2 hands-off, picking a minor country in the middle of nowhere and spending all their time watching everyone else). Instead the player is one of many forces acting on the people- alongside the economic system, governments, political parties, and so forth. He has no intrinsic stake in what goes on. 

Far from removing the player from the game and making him bored, I think this provides opportunities for players to engage on a much deeper level with the game. People are much less angry, for instance, about an improperly balanced spell in World of Warcraft than they are about an 'inaccurate' or unfun mechanic in a game of Victoria 2, because whereas the spell can be worked around- nerfed or whatever- a bad mechanic ruins not only the win-the-game type of fun, but the other types of fun as well, the watch-things-develop fun, or the try-to-change-history fun. It's much more than winning or losing a round of PvP or dying before a hard boss. It's losing an entire pseudohistorical playground. You can definitely play World of Warcraft and treat it as some kind of system to be tinkered around with or observed, but the game doesn't really facilitate that in the same way that Victoria 2 does. And for me, at least, being able to sit back or lean in and micromanage depending on my mood is a much more interesting proposition. 

 

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Victoria 2 Boxart

Info

  • Developer: Paradox Interactive
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Release Date: August 21, 2010
  • Link: The Official Site
  • ESRB Rating:
Teen

Minimum Requirements

  • Win XP/Vista/7
  • Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHz or AMD 3500+
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2GB available HDD space
  • NVIDIA GeForce 8800 or ATI Radeon X1900 video card

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