It is a rare thing to be able to point at someone and say” He created an entire Genre of video game”. Sid Meier is a Canadian programmer who was born in 1954 and he is a bit of a hero of mine. I am a geek, I fully admit that, and it doesn’t bother me at all. Sid is a geek too, but he is cool, because he was a geek when nobody else was. Sid has written or has been in some way involved in a large percentage of my favourite games over the years.
In the good old days of the 8bit computer, when I was young and carefree and the happy owner of a Commodore 64, there was a company that created rather stunning games called Microprose. My personal favourite was Silent Service, which was a rather spiffy
Submarine Simulator set in the Second World War. I spent hours blowing U-boats out of the water, hunting down Nazi cargo ships and protecting convoys. Silent Service was such a good game was so good, that twenty years later I am still convinced that if you put me in a submarine I could drive it quite easily. Sid taught me how when I was eight years old.
Lets not forget another Microprose creation either, the fantastic Gunship – 1986. Thanks to Sid, I was flying the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter when I was nine years old. By the time I was ten years old, I could shoot just about anything out of the sky and take down enemy tanks from nearly two miles away. It turns out that flying the worlds most advanced Attack Helicopter is actually pretty easy once you read the manual and you get a bit of target practice. In fact they practically fly themselves. Death defying piloting skills haven’t been much use so far in my adult life, but it is reassuring to know I can blow up an enemy weapons depot should I need to. You never know when these things will come in handy do you? Cheers Sid.
A couple of years later, Sid taught me everything I could ever need to know about business in Railroad Tycoon. I am not a millionaire yet, but that is simply because I haven’t had time to deploy everything Sid taught me. Instead I have been practicing to become God, thanks to Civilization, which is Sid’s most famous creation. Civilization is just what it sounds like, you are given control of a civilization and your job is to make it thrive, grow and prosper. You have the choice to win your enemies over with diplomacy and trade, or simply to go to war and wipe them off the face of the map. The choice is yours.
Of course Sid has been teaching us to be deities for a long time now, and Civ has been though many incarnations / sequels (at least seven different versions each on different platforms by my count), and a new one is due out later this year: Civilization V – I can hardly wait!
There can be no doubt then that Sid Meier is a very talented chap. I must admit though, that I didn’t understand just how talented he was until I saw the video below. Sid’s old university runs an annual competition for students who want to become games programmers / writers. The contestants are given 48 hours to design a fully working, bug free video game. Every year Sid is one of the judges, and this year he decided to have a go himself, although his entry wasn’t going to be judged. Take a look, I think you will be very impressed, I know I was.