Sid Meier is the celebrated designer of Civilization, so when the man says something about strategy games, we listen. And that’s exactly what we did when he spoke to PC Gamer in a recent interview. Overall, Meier thinks the state of computer strategy is just fine, but he did give a word of warning about the genre becoming too complicated:
Back when I was young, we used to make flight simulators. They kept getting more and more complicated. The cockpit started taking over more and more of the screen, and what you saw outside got less and less. With every generation… There were some great games, like the Falcon series. But with every generation, some people said, this is getting to be too much for me, I won’t buy it anymore. Eventually it just out-complexified itself.
This piece of advice is not only true for flight sims and for strategy games, but for games in general. One of the biggest barriers for games as an accessible medium is that you have to learn how to play them to get satisfaction from them. Luckily, there has been an upswing of good, simple games like Canabalt with the rise of game jams and mobiles and motion controls. However, there is value in complexity. As anyone who has witnessed the awesomeness of Europa Univeralis or Crusader Kings 2, sometimes the payoff is well-worth it. But as Meier knows, it’s a mighty fine line.