Finding ways to explore

June 26, 2024

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Exploration is one of the reasons I love playing Civilization.

The “tiles” you can move to are obscured and so are the other players. Moving in the wrong direction could mean ruin, passing up potentially resource-rich areas of the map for little more than cliffside or desert. Did you take a wrong turn? Too bad, you can’t undo it. Your only hope for success is to look ahead. You are focusing on the next move and the one after that. Moving backwards to collect that resource might cost you as much if not more than forging ahead to find the next one.

Civilization wants you to explore. The randomly generated map rewards you for taking chances and straying further afield than other players, giving your civilization a boost if you’re the first to arrive at a tribal village or new resource. Exploring the game is exhilarating. The anticipation builds as your scout removes the “fog of war” on the map and you wait and see; will we find a landmark, will we run into a barbarian outpost, or will we end up face-to-face with another player?

It’s difficult to find opportunities for exploration outside of a video game. The world feels full and predictable. Like waking up only to find yourself going eight miles an hour on a highway, you have no choice but to follow traffic.

I try to remember that things can still be new because they can be new to me. What does it matter if someone else was there first? I can learn from their achievements and from their mistakes. That so much is being explored by so many is a privilege and a gift.

Lifting the “fog of war” of the unknown can be exhilarating, but it’s a path paved with peril. Sometimes you find a tribal village or resource-rich valley. Sometimes you run into the barbarian outpost. I should be so lucky that someone else made my mistakes for me.