This was such an awesome geekgasm. I have been a Civilization fan since my late teens and I was very excited to dive into this book. This memoir was so approachable, even for someone like me who doesn’t play a lot of computer games and has only checked out Meier’s Civilization games. This book has the right balance of humor, reflection, interesting anecdotes, and nerdy references.
The book is laid out along a historical timeline, going all the way back to when Meier first started tinkering around with computer programming. Now, I’m not a computer programmer nor do I have any interest in it and yet Meier made this aspect of the story interesting. I never felt lost or bored; rather he gives enough info for knowledgeable folks to nod their heads in agreement and the rest of us to understand the implications of whatever this bit of code does or why that language or platform is important. This memoir is so well balanced in this aspect, keeping an eye on the bigger picture while giving us enough details to make it interesting.
It was pretty cool hearing about Meier’s personal life, from his childhood, to his first marriage, the birth of his firstborn, and then on to his second marriage. I liked the small bits he did share even as he kept the focus on the computer games. I loved the tales about his first business partner – Bill. He had all the salesman’s tricks down; for instance, his trick of calling local game shops pretending to be a potential customer wondering if they have a certain game only to later call as himself asking if he can come by to talk to them about selling their latest computer game. I know it’s a dated gimmick but I bet it could work today with burner phones.
The business evolution was an interesting part of the tale as well. I appreciated hearing about all the pitfalls just as much as the victories. To me, having enjoyed so many hours of Civilization (mostly Civ IV), I was surprised to learn that it was a hard sell at first. I was not aware that Civ was one of the forerunners of strategy computer games, but put into the context of computer limitations at the time, it really makes sense. While I have no interest in flight simulator games or Meier’s golf game, I am curious about his railroad game now. Also, I’m was a little sad to hear about the abandoned dinosaur game.
All around, an excellent memoir about one of the Lords of Geekdom. 5/5 stars.
The Narration: Charles Constant was a good pick for this narration. While I was a little sad at first to see Meier wasn’t narrating his own memoir, sometimes that’s for the best. Narration is a skill and an art and not everyone has that ability. Constant made everything sound interesting and I especially appreciated his hints of emotion at all the right points. I especially liked his Bill the Enthusiastic Pilot voice. The pacing was perfect and there were no technical issues. 5/5 stars.
I received a free copy via NetGalley. My opinions are 100% my own.
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