Europa Universalis IV is The Best Genocide Simulator of The Year

1846 ‎مشاهدات 231 Comments

The dark heart of Paradox Interactive’s Europa Universalis IV.

The first minutes I spent with Europa Universalis IV were a beautiful tragedy. I’d elected to start the game as Austria in 1492. Right away I was faced with a troubling situation. Some of my provinces in the western half of Europe were separated from me by the national borders of several other countries, and cut off from their motherland had forgotten the joys of living under my benevolent rule.

Nationalists had risen up and laid siege to several of my forts. They were in fact very close to forcing their demands for independence.

All that lay between my loyal subjects (For all of my subjects are loyal, even if they don’t always know it themselves. That’s why they need me, you see: because I know what’s best for them) and the purposeless ennui of independence were the sixty thousand men of the Austrian army.

But you can’t just march a doom stack of troops across five countries without permission, not unless you’re willing to fight your way through. My diplomats scurried along, carrying my will to the less enlightened segments of Europe that had not yet accepted me into their hearts.

Now they may be backwards and ignorant foreigners, but they know a good idea when they hear it, and letting thousands and thousands of foreign soldiers tramp through their fields and clog up their roads is a marvelous idea. I felt so generous not even asking for anything in return.

Not all were so wise, but enough were that I could plot a twisty route across Europe for my soldiers to go liberate the shit out of my wayward provinces. I would save them from the rising doom of independence. I would save them from themselves. So off my soldiers marched, sixty thousand of the finest conscripts my commissars could drag from under their beds.
So off my soldiers marched, sixty thousand of the finest conscripts my commissars could drag from under their beds. Five thousand made it back.
Five thousand made it back.

I couldn’t believe it. How had such a catastrophe happened? Venice took the opportunity to pounce and crossed my southern border, burning everything in their path. I couldn’t afford to replace my losses, and what replacements I could scrounge up wouldn’t be ready for months. I went back to an earlier save and tried again. Again, my army melted away like spring snow. This is how I learned about attrition.

You see every province can only support so many soldiers. If more soldiers are present in that province than can be supported, some of them start to die. The route I’d selected for My glorious march against freedom couldn’t support more than twenty thousand troops in any given province. So the army had simply died of starvation until it was down to a more manageable size.

With their morale low and their numbers depleted, they were cut to ribbons by the rebels, and only found victory by burying the enemy under mountains of corpses. Again, I reloaded an earlier save. Again I tried, but this time I broke the army into three parts, and plotted three separate routes across Europe and had them fall on three separate rebel-held provinces. Success.

From that moment on I was in love with this game. Europa Universalis IV is a pitiless tutor. There are dozens of systems to keep track of, many of which interact with each other and can create perverse cycles of dysfunction in an otherwise well-run empire. At the start of the game, troops can take months to recruit and even a small army can bankrupt a great power. Planning requires forethought measured in decades, if not centuries.

And all the while, the engines of history churn on, heedless of of the desires of rulers and peasants alike. Drifting cultural loyalties, religious insurrection, disputed lines of succession, and even simple bad luck can wreck a scheme decades in the making. Your challenge, as the kind of immortal, disembodied spirit of a country, is to withstand the onslaught of perils and misfortune and lead your country to greatness.

When any given week can bring an ill omen in the sky which leads to a drop in stability which leads to a rebellion breaking out in one corner of the empire which leads to three other rebellions in three other provinces, leading to the ruin of all you have striven for these past five decades and more, you must plan for catastrophe.

You must learn to prioritize, to put out fires quickly, and to keep your eyes on the goal. When you’re fighting three separate wars, putting down rebellions, managing a religious conversion, bringing insolent merchants to heel, and thinking “yes, it’s all going according to plan,” then you’ll have arrived. You won’t be a master, but you’ll have unlocked the secret to playing and enjoying such a gargantuan, sprawling, and fundamentally unforgiving game.

After getting Austria up to snuff as a central European powerhouse, I thought I’d try my hand at overrunning the New World as the British. As an American, I have a perverse fascination with playing as the British and trying to keep the Revolution from happening. Or, if that’s not possible, at least win it for King and Country.

So after a dicey few decades in which I cut the Hundred Year’s War short by about two thirds, I untangled myself from Continental politics and focused on rushing up the tech tree as fast as my country could go. The history of this alternate world is filled with the names of explorers I sent west, never to be heard from again. Finally, I managed to get a ship out to Labrador and back without losing it, and was able to plant the flag and start my first overseas colony.

And it’s here where things started to get a bit…fucked up. I was still having loads of fun, but suddenly I couldn’t get into playing a jovial dictator relentlessly pushing her borders back and using the bones of dead peasants as the mortar in her new palace. Somewhere, deep in my chest, a little voice was whispering this is really fucking sick.

Let’s be clear about one thing: in real life, the colonization of North America by European settlers was only possible because of the accompanying slow-motion genocide of the people who were already living here. The First Nations of the Americas did not have castles, or royal dynasties, or a continent-spanning church like the Europeans, but they did have a civilization.

They had politics, trade, cultural exchange, territorial disputes, and wars. They built cities and temples, domesticated animals, and mastered their environment just as thoroughly as any other people on the planet.

I knew going in that I’d playing a game about a topic that, in real life, is horrifying to my (white, privileged) progressive sensibilities. I thought I was prepared for it.

Then I actually saw how they treat the Americas. For reference, here is what Europe looks like about a hundred and fifty years into the game, after several of the smaller states have been gobbled up by their larger neighbors.

Look at all that detail!
Europe in Europa Universalis IV

And here is what North America looks like, about ninety years after English settlers first landed in Canada.

Doesn't this seem a little...empty to you?
North America in Europa Universalis IV

Something is off. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but something felt a little strange about colonizing the Americas. It couldn’t be that I was not comfortable with playing a ruthlessly expansionary state. I mean, have you read the first part of this article?

Perhaps it was my uneasiness with gamifying a genocide that I directly benefit from, even centuries after it started. (Yes, white Americans, you ARE the beneficiaries of genocide. Get used to it.) That’s probably part of it, but a greater part of it, I think, is how the game portrays that atrocity.

When you finally get a ship over to North America, you’ll notice that things look a little different. Europe is crammed cheek to jowl with minor duchies and single-province powers, at least in the early game. There is no square inch of territory unaccounted for. But when you get to the Americas, you’ll see a lot of “empty” territory. The provinces and territories that are not claimed by any power or nation can be colonized.

You do this by sending a colonist to that province, and watch as its population grows. Once it hits a threshold, it becomes a productive city, and you can recall your colonist to do it again elsewhere.

Except that there wasn’t any “empty” territory in real life. There were people who already lived in the Americas, and in Africa, and in Asia. Entire cultures rose and fell, for thousands of years without European involvement. But when you get to where a lot of these people lived in Europa Universalis IV, you are presented with a blank spot on the map, and a suggestion that nobody who matters lives there.

This is not to say that there is no thought given to the natives. Oh, they’re represented all right.

And with that, an entire culture is reduced to a 3 entry stat line and caricature.
Colonization screen in Europa Universalis IV

You can see a simplified take on their religion, a rough population estimate, and the only two stats that most indigenous peoples are allowed to have in this game: “aggressiveness” and “ferocity”. That’s right, your ancestors might have been a peaceful culture of fishermen, but in EUIV they were aggressive and ferocious. Like animals in need of taming, really.

And can you really call it aggression if they attack the colonists for taking their land? Since when does self defense, or the defense of one’s territory, become aggressive? Why, when brown people are doing it, of course!

(Speaking of which, look at how Native Americans are actually pictured here. That doesn’t strike anyone else as a bit…broad? A bit caricatured? A bit…say it with me now…racist?)

There are some indigenous cultures that are granted the dignity of being represented as actual political actors. The Creek, the Iroquois, and so on. The problem is that these countries are superficially defined, and intentionally limited. Cultures with the “new world” technology group accrue technology at a snail’s pace, and are much slower to gather resources.

This means that no matter what you do, by the time the Europeans show up, you’re facing an apocalyptic war for survival that you can’t hope to win.

While there is some effort to reflect a different culture, mainly in the names of your national leaders and the graphics used to represent the buildings in your provinces, this is clearly a halfhearted effort. For example, the advisers that you hire to gain extra administrative, diplomatic, or military resources for example are all Europeans, no matter what culture you are playing as.

Some limitations that make a bit of sense in the European setting, like the inability to explore uncharted territory without first developing your technology base, only serve to lock Native American factions into their starting area. While European cultures are allowed to expand or contract their borders in gleeful disregard of historical fact, Native American cultures are chained to a rough approximation of where they historically existed.

The national decisions and missions available for a player to select are greatly reduced as well, which means that most countries that don’t border the Mediterranean are going to be very stale and generic compared to, for example, the intrigues of the Holy Roman Empire.

And it’s hard to believe that this isn’t intentional. It’s hard to believe that the existence of the Huron and the Iroquois aren’t only there for the European player’s benefit. Having some cultures represented by countries with definable borders and a diplomacy screen allows players who are playing a European power to simulate the diplomatic relations that some colonial powers had with some of the Native Americans.

I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason why some Native Americans are given “European-style” countries in this game at all. The problem with this game is not that you can colonize the New World; the problem is that this game only includes the New World so that it can be colonized.

A pretty good piece of evidence for this theory is how trade is handled in EUIV. Trade, in Europa Universalis IV, is a one-way prospect. A province creates trade power, and that trade power is pushed up along a linear path, where it is eventually collected either at your capital or by a merchant you’ve sent to collect it.

There is no way for trade to flow “backwards,” which means it is impossible for cultures at the “upstream” end of a trade network to benefit from it. In this game, trade is only for extracting wealth from places that aren’t Europe. I haven’t played much with trying to colonize Africa. Not after I saw one of the provinces had as its trade good “slaves” with a picture of a big iron ball and chain.

For a game about creating alternate histories, Europa Universalis IV has some very firm opinions about what should happen to the peoples living in the parts of the world that aren’t Europe. None of them good. I don’t mean to say that it endorses genocide, merely that it doesn’t question it. The game accepts it as natural, inevitable, and unworthy of comment.

There’s plenty of winking humor in how it treats the various atrocities that happened in Europe during this time, so I know they are aware of how things were horrible for many Europeans during that era. But there’s no clues to indicate that they really understand the horrors of colonization, as well.

Everyone knows that religious wars and inquisitions and violently repressing your own people is wrong. But not everybody agrees that colonizing other nations is wrong, and that makes all the difference. It’s like how in Grand Theft Auto players can have a grand old time perpetrating mass murder on the streets of Liberty City, but many would have problems with a rape mini-game. We all agree murder is wrong, but rape is something people make excuses for.

We all agree that dictatorships are wrong, but colonization is something we make excuses for.

It’s an unsettled question. It’s a moral problem we have not yet agreed on an answer to. The distancing assumptions that allow us to vicariously enjoy the chaos of a 5-star rampage in downtown Los Santos are not available. Or, perhaps the assumptions are too available; perhaps the game relies on the assumption that moral question would never be asked.

And so for those of us who are aware of the question, and who care about it, it’s not a very exciting premise for a game.

It’s a fun game. A masterful game. A work of passion and talent. But I can’t enjoy it without reservations or recommend it without caveats. The moment you begin your colonization effort, the game takes a dark and troubling turn. It never really recovers from that. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be over here, attempting to unify the Holy Roman Empire into the modern state of Germany. And not doing any colonization.

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Gamemoir

A website dedicated to video game culture and lifestyle editorials. Gamemoir Staff seek to offer our readers original and thought provoking takes on video games, technology, LGBT and Gender perspectives, and pop culture.

  • jose

    I hope the mongols come along eventually and exterminate all of you white types.

    • Turtles

      I think most people thought you were a troll or this was sarcasm.

      I doubt anybody wanted to accept that a SJW like you would be stupid enough to advocate genocide in the comments of a game review based completely on complaining about genocide.

      But based on your other comment, you seem to believe what you’re saying.

      I could comment further but I doubt it should be necessary.

  • George

    Better not watch any movies about the Holocaust, they’re all so anti-semitic. A movie about slavery in early America? What a horrible, racist film! They even say “nigger” in it!

    This article is stupid, and so are you. Keep on feeling that white guilt, though, I’m sure it makes you feel superior to the rest of the intolerant, backwards world.

    • jose

      The argument is cogent and she’s smarter than you. Your analogy sucks. Holocaust movies don’t feature offensively stereotypical jews whose only traits are aggressivess and ferocity (or greediness, if we’re going with stereotypes). You’re a big dummy.

      That America is there in this game explicitly to be a prey for Europe, while wild historical fiction is perfectly fine within Europe, does show a double standard that you can’t contest.

      • Turtles

        I tried understanding your thought process considering you defy all historical accuracy, the best I could come up with is this:

        “Those Aboriginals in the colonial period game are in tipis, wearing feathers and raging wars! This is like, so stereotypical and gross! They should be, so like in SUV’s and business suits at the mall!”

        Hate to break it to you, but those “stereotypes” are based on how natives actually lived in 1500-1700, they are only considered stereotypes now because things have changed since. And historically, many of the tribes were extremely warlike.

        Your ignorance and uneducated assumptions aren’t as “valid” as historical facts. This is why SJW’s aren’t taken seriously outside of their respective “safe space” Tumblr’s.

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com Nick Verboon

    You just solved the problem, Ms. Daniels. As the game is a conquest simulator, conquest an death is what it is. If you don’t wipe out the native population, someone else will; but you have the choice not to colonize and to limit your genocidal warfare only to other white people. A politically correct Native American culture simulator wouldn’t be much of a game. Based on this article, I think you may actually be an excellent choice for first woman president. Make it happen!

  • Frustration

    It’s clear from the events that the game tries to be historical, and if i recall correctly, the native american people were massacred without mercy. If every single little nation had the Western tech group and started on the same grounds, it would lead to some really stupid gameplay problems and inbalances. The game is how it is because of gameplay reasons, but i assume you dont really give a damn about those, because catering to social justice warriors is what games should do, right? Right?

    We live in a world where misogny and racism is seen everywhere and it makes me sick.

    • April Daniels

      My point is that the game is structured to support the assumption that there was “empty” land, and that what representations the Native Americans do get are shallow and flawed. The game recapitulates the exact same assumptions that were used to justify the conquests in the first place, albeit in a more low key manner.

      • Asa Biggs

        I was mostly empty land. I’m Native American(Cherokee) and the Native Americans didn’t really conquer other peoples. We were peaceful. The only Native Americans during this time that were a large political force were the Iroquois,Aztecs and, the Inca. The game still simulates population of the natives(Attacking the settlements, Growth of the settlements).,

        • April Daniels

          If it sounded like I wanted the Native Americans to all be depicted as fighting for territory and defending borders the way the Europeans do, then I misspoke. But I do think that that should be an option for players who play as the Native American factions; all the European factions are given the freedom to act in a wildly a-historical manner.

          I also still do not agree with their decision to depict most of Africa and the Americas as “empty” space with the locals described as a 3-entry stat line. I can think of colonization mechanics that do not rely on “filling in the blank spots” as if nobody at all had ever set foot there. But if they really couldn’t have more playable Native American and African factions, then they should have at least given those factions as much detail as, for example, Castile. There are plenty of factions in the game that do not lend themselves to aggressive military expansion but are still richly developed, and the Native American factions could have been part of that. Instead, they are shallow and under-developed, with very few if any unique national decisions or events. If they were developed more fully, they could at least be fun, even if they weren’t able to be military powerhouses.

      • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

        That depends a bit, I can’t remember where I found it, but there’s an article about EU3 and ho the game makes you “see though the eyes of the state” and one of the consequences here is that states are the building blocks of the game. (In CK2 it is characters, in Vicky it’s still states but to some extent also POP’s) Non-state (or even very small) states are hard to represent in the game engine. It’s less eurocentric (although it is that too, as state-centric)

        North America is to some extent always going to be an abstraction (Central and South america has less justification for it’s poor state) largely because our knowledge of pre-contact polics is so sketchy. Archeology can tell us some things about how people lived and what their lives was like… But w can’t really know what the poliical system of say, Cahokia, was like, or what territory they controlled, if they raised armies and if so how, etc. All things that are pretty integral to the game.

        The other solution would be to blanket america in one-province minors. Which would arguably be a better idea but also have it’s own drawbacks (performance issues, for instance) there are also quite a few mods that do just that. (It should also be pointed out hat Paradox has a history of focusing on game systems and leaving the historical details to modders, anyone who’s exprienced the discussions on the Transylvania understands why)

        The land isn’t empty (or even presented as such) what it lacks is state infrastructure ( this is probably a bad depiction of pre-contact america, but OTOH we have no idea what a accurate representation would look like)

        • April Daniels

          And those are very good counterpoints. I knew the sketchy archaeological record would be a challenge to overcome for the developers, but I still think they could have done more.

          The eyes of the state argument you’re making is a really interesting one that I’ll have to consider at greater length. My first reaction is, then why are the Native American “states” that are in the game so underdeveloped? Surely they could have put in some more content for those factions, even if they couldn’t get enough information to avoid “empty” tiles.

      • http://scifimarshak.wordpress.com J. Marshak

        @Emil Soderman, the article you are thinking of is Jonathan McCalmont’s excellent piece on Crusader Kings II and family (http://ruthlessculture.com/2013/05/07/like-worms-in-the-belly-of-some-great-beast-family-values-and-crusader-kings-ii/), which essentially agrees with the thesis of this article, as to McCalmont viewing the world like a state means viewing the world like a genocidal maniac. Not that you don’t have other good points, but citing it hardly constitutes an argument as the whole *point* is that viewing the world like a state is profoundly evil practice.

    • Wolfgang Pauli

      Actually I’m working on a mod that DOES make tech groups and units and such equal. It makes for a really interesting and different game. It’s still alpha, though, so I haven’t released it through Steam Workshop yet. http://www.mediafire.com/download/k3tdpbskmdit7j7/techneutrality(2).rar

      • http://gravatar.com/jmarshak The Wicked and Perfidious Richelieu

        @Emil Soderman, the article you are thinking of is Jonathan McCalmont’s excllent peice of Crusader Kings II (http://ruthlessculture.com/2013/05/07/like-worms-in-the-belly-of-some-great-beast-family-values-and-crusader-kings-ii/), which essentially agrees with the thesis of this article, as to McCalmont viewing the world like a state means viewing the world like a genocidal maniac. Citing it hardly constitutes an argument against this piece as the whole *point* is that viewing the world like a state is profoundly evil practice.

  • Victor Cross

    Caveat: There may be an expansion in-the-works on this sort of point. I remember Empire Total War started with a very bland view of the Native Americans, then expanded it a lot with the Warpath Campaign.

    So it’s possible that the company focussed on Europe to begin with, assuming that’s where the majority would want to begin, and polished up their simulation of that region. EUIV will probably be expanded a lot over the coming years, so the parts that trouble you now may also be a ‘blank canvas’ for more enriching content later.

    • April Daniels

      I really hope so. It’s not that I am totally against a game that represents European conquest of the Americas, so much as I find it distasteful how the people who already lived here were depicted in the game. In literature we call things like that “textual assumptions” and they can be very illuminating. The textual assumptions of EUIV are a bit troubling at times.

  • Caitlin

    You don’t have to kill any of the natives, really (except for the ones that rise up, but that does not actually affect the population), and you get bonuses for not doing so; your tax base goes up if you colonize without hitting the wipe out all natives button. Though wiping out all natives is silly anyway, since there really isn’t any population modeling at all once you finish a colony. The reason a lot of it is empty land is because there needs to be stuff for the AI to colonize (they cannot colonize India very well even though that did happen), and the ones that aren’t empty have historical reasons for not being so.

    Plus, they can’t accurately model the genocide in their game engine. It’s just not possible, and they’re certainly a bit Eurocentric at times (though the new patch is adding a lot of ideas for the far east nations such as Tibet, Taungu, Orissa, Punjab) but they’ve gotten better. It’s possible to survive as the Iroquois or the Shawnee, it’s just really really hard (and should be, because that’s completely historically inaccurate).

    Plus they released Sunset Invasion (an ahistorical scenario where the Aztec invade western Europe) for their medieval game, Crusader Kings 2, and if you export a save from that to EU4 with it active, you get technological parity with European states as the Aztec, Inca, Iroquois, Maya, etc.

  • http://goroguegame.wordpress.com goroguegame

    I’m really frustrated with the state of the ROTW. It certainly should not be whitewashed and the active harm of colonized peoples should be in the game, but it’s all so Eurocentric. There’s no much to do modding-wise, either, so my solution was to put everyone on an equal tech and unit footing and be done with it. My mod’s still in alpha, but I’ve already added some new provinces, some new Plains Indians, removed all non-Western penalties (the several double-dipped instances of then) and generalized most if not all of the content arbitrarily assigned to White Western Europeans.

    Once the new patch lands and I get the rest of the wasteland removed, I’ll put it up on Steam Workshop. For now, here’s the alpha: http://www.mediafire.com/download/k3tdpbskmdit7j7/techneutrality(2).rar

  • Deaghaidh

    Didn’t the fact that it is called Europa Universalis tip you off to the fact that it is focused on Europe? If a game exists that can adequately reflect the wildly different lifestyles, economies, politics and military structures of pre-contact America and the rise of Europe-based empires I have never heard of it. To represent the Americas as being filled with European style states would be even more inaccurate.

    As far as “textual assumptions,” Paradox’s assumption is “what actually happened was probably the most likely outcome.” If anything Paradox deserves credit for not trying to sooth our over privileged first world consciences. As opposed to Sid Meier’s Colonization, which ignored slavery all together. In EU4, as in real history, no one builds Empires without doing some very bad things.

    Also, notice how you found the idea of hundreds of thousands of dead Germans amusing without any pangs of conscience? If we’re going to apply this kind of scrutiny to morality in strategy games, we should acknowledge that the existence of any war game is pretty horrific, not only those aspects of it that activate our liberal guilt.

    • April Daniels

      Oh gee, you mean a game with Europe in the title might be preoccupied with Europe? I’d never considered that.

      Please.

      Just because something starts with Europe as it’s seed does not mean it needs to stay Eurocentric forever. Nor does it mean that the ways it treats indigenous peoples as unworthy of equal treatment to white people is above criticism. This isn’t about guilt, so don’t trot that hoary old trope out. It’s about noticing some flaws in an otherwise brilliant game. I’ve seen gamers who are people of color say they really want to enjoy a game like this, but they can’t because it’s attitude towards colonialism is so off putting.

      • Deaghaidh

        Really? Because all I saw there was classic liberal guilt.

        If this were about the structure of the game, you would have realized that short of subdividing every North and South American province into dozens of pieces, there would be no possible way to fill the Americas with ‘states’ of accurate scale. How do you create a combat model that works equally well for open field musket and pike battles in the Netherlands, native resistance against encroaching settlers in New England, and wars between nomads in Central Asia? You can’t. I say it again, no game has ever been made that can adequately represent both renaissance/early modern Europe AND the hundreds of different polities in the Americas, not to mention also all of the rest of the planet.

        The central focus is on Europe/ They went with a set of systems (trade, combat, diplomacy) that worked well for (most of) Europe, which translated better to the Muslim world, India, and the far east than it did to sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas. EUIV doesn’t adequately represent the brutal and desperate struggle of the Irish to defend their culture and religion either, along with many other inaccuracies and distortions in how some ‘whites’ are depicted.

        The ’empty’ provinces is a crude system and unrealistic. But it is a marginally better one than filling all the empty provinces with European style states in defiance of history. I actually agree with you that the tech group system is unduly harsh. But that’s a game balance issue, not a symptom of massive cultural bias. They were trying to create something that adequately modeled the actual technology gaps that developed, and this is what they came up with.

        And again, as long as we’re looking for profound moral lessons in strategy games, why is it totally guilt free to wrack up massive death tolls in European wars? This was a horrific era in history world wide. If you really think about it, its disturbing that games like EU even exist. But let’s not just arbitrarily decide that only atrocities against non-‘white’ people count. That’s the same sort of thinking that led people to thinking that they didn’t count. Not that I expect that level of self awareness from the person who wrote this article and response.

      • Kalkin

        It’s odd you would try and say this isn’t about guilt when you yourself bring up white guilt in the article.

        “Perhaps it was my uneasiness with gamifying a genocide that I directly benefit from, even centuries after it started. (Yes, white Americans, you ARE the beneficiaries of genocide. Get used to it.) ”

        That aside, you’ve been getting a fairly negative reaction to the article from fans of the game and I think it’s a little unfair but I think it’s a reaction to your tone as much as your issues with the game. A fair number of the regulars on the Paradox forum hold your view that the world outside of Europe generally needs better representation but you come off as both hypocritical and condescending.

        I say hypocritical because you seem to treat the horrible things you do to Europeans as a grand joke, all that talk of bringing your wonderful rule to those poor peasants but when it comes to bringing your rule to Natives of North America suddenly the game has crossed a line and stopped being funny. To your credit you raise the issue of the oversimplification of colonization and the Americas in general but as others have said you give the impression that your problem isn’t so much that nasty things happen but rather who was your victim.

        But the far bigger problem with your article, at least in my opnion, is how condescending you come off. You treat you reader like fourth graders in need of a lecture. The quote above is a good example so is the part were you tell the reader “say it with me … racist”. It sounds like you think your audience is made of unreconstructed bigots and it’s your job to enlighten them. Sanctimonious pedagoguery is never a winning method of bringing people to your way of thinking.

        • April Daniels

          I didn’t bring up white guilt. I just mention that I am white, and that that comes with some privileges that it’s important to be aware of.

          And it’s hardly condescending to write with passion and energy, just because you happen to disagree with what I’m saying.

  • Gudmundur Jonsson

    It happened. It was brutal and destructive and it happened. The Europeans barely treated the native social organizations as anything other than primitive and uncivilized. That is how they saw it and they got away with treating the natives like that. To the colonizers it was empty territory that needed colonization and the local savages needed to be converted or killed. The native people are depicted in the game as they were seen by Europeans who conquered them. The game is structured on the assumption that the land was empty: the thing was that it was effectively empty to anybody with armed men with guns. Try colonizing without men with guns and your success will be limited.

    • April Daniels

      Yes, and that’s an interesting counterpoint, but I don’t think it holds water. The entire game is not from the European “point of view.” The Islamic countries in the southern Mediterranean, for example, are actually pretty well developed and do not give off the impression of simply being there for the sake of the European players’ enjoyment. They are allowed to have a full game experience on their own terms, with detail national decisions and special events and so on and so on. You can play a very full and rich game of EUIV without ever sending troops into Europe at all. So it seems pretty clear that the game isn’t meant to be a depiction of how Europeans at the time saw the world, since if it was the Islamic powers would be just as shallow and caricatured as the indigenous peoples are.

      • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

        I think the previous poster’s argument isn’t th best but I’ll note that near and middle-eastern islamic states were far more integrated into european politics than native americans were. Euopeans didn’t view them as shallowly as they viewed native americans. (and while europeans did have a significant advantae over native americans thanks to diseases and general technology, their advantage over their islamic neighbours was much, much smaller)

      • Gudmundur Jonsson

        In that case I suggest you read up on the history and culture of these Islamic countries. Their history is being scandalously simplified as well. This applies to India, China, Japan and Africa as well. To be honest, most of Europe is simplified too. Everything in the game is simplified and generalized. A total world simulator sort of has to be. Iceland and Faroes are Norwegian culture in 1444? Occitan in the French culture group? No Sorb culture? It’s a simplification. European were able to establish functioning settlements without having to fight large organized states (I’m sorry, but the Powhattan Confederation does not reach that level, The Aztecs and Inca do), the game simulates this. Your personal knowledge of the state of culture of the amerindian tribes of the mid-atlantic region might possibly exceed the combined knowledge of the relatively small research staff available to Paradox on that topic for what is a bit of a niché game.

        In reality North Africa consists of much more than mainly coastal provinces plus a few mountain ones. They are not all berbers (in fact few of them were then or now). Merely within the at start state of Algeria there were in reality dozens of small independent states. These southern Med states do not have the same full experience, simply by virtue of having permanent wasteland to their south. If I remember correctly the 5 at start northern american indian “states” have 5 different cultures, the entire islamic southern med has 3.

      • Juggy Broddletein

        Naturally developers have to make difficult choices on what parts to develop more intricately. In Europa universalis 4 they chose 36 countries to be a more developed experience. More than half of these are in Europe, which makes sense for the time period this game depicts.

        I like your article, even if it was a little incendiary. When it comes to blogs, that’s usually a good thing, in my opinion.

        A few things that you might find interesting:
        1. I’ve read the adventure of a player that conquered paris with the cherokee. The experience is a bit more barren and very very hard, but not impossible within the game’s constraints. If it was equally easy, then you could never have the semi-historic experience of finding an easily colonizable land.
        2. When colonising, it’s only genocide if you send your army there to kill the natives. Otherwise they are incorporated into your culture (increasing manpower and base tax)

        Finally, this is a game inside a european country. The average european is actually not that well informed on the intricacies of their colonization efforts. It’s a part of history that you learn in school, but a small part compared to second world war, history of the greeks, local country history etc.

        The results of the social imbalance caused by slavery are also far less apparent if you live in Europe…. except for american media. I don’t know if you are American, it just seemed to me that way by the way the article is written (and that’s neither compliment nor negatively meant, just an observation)

        To call EU IV a genocide simulator is funny. But unfair. You have to work pretty hard to commit actual genocide and it’s rarely a good choice.

        I’ve done so on occasion, for example because I wanted to be sure that the natives didn’t attack my settlement at a time when I was vulnerable and needed to move their guards away because spain had just invaded my mainland. Seeing as my dad was born in one of the areas that’s ‘uncolonized’ in EU IV, it doesn’t make me feel good. But sometimes it’s the best choice to selfishly make for my country.

        And in that sense EU IV is at it’s most divine and enlightening. By shedding light on why people would do such a thing as genocide. Fear and selfishness. But also protecting your own people and everything you’ve built. Scary thought.

  • http://gravatar.com/luckyluigi LuckyLuigi

    So you are criticizing a game focused about global conquest and colonization because…it has colonization in it ? This review is just bizarre.

    • Turtles

      I think the complaint here is that it depicts natives as being inferior technologically (which is historical) and “April Daniels” would prefer a more whitewashed history where the natives somehow had an equal level of technology.

      For no other reason than she feels it would be a more politically correct version of “history”.

  • Chris

    Actually, by the time Eurpoe colonized America, most of the Native American population died off from a near apocalyptic plague.
    So no, there wasn’t much in the way of Native American civilization.

  • Benefactor of Genocide

    Wow where to begin. First this game is based loosely on history and during this time period Europeans did dominate the rest of the world. The game is also called EUROPA Universalis. What the hell did you expect? Some liberal wet dream where the natives spread love and peace throughout the world?

    This article is less about the game and more about your political views. You seem to be desperate to show how evolved or intelligent you are with your over the top politically correct, white guilt, self hating, and progressive views. It would be funny if you weren’t serious.

    Instead of lecturing us about white privilege and telling us you “get used to” how we benefit from genocide (as if every other culture/race doesn’t benefit from genocide) maybe you should learn about history instead of spewing your revisionist liberal history in which everyone but whites were ” a peaceful culture of fishermen, but in EUIV they were aggressive and ferocious.”

    Seriously? Let me explain something that is obviously kept secret in liberal, white guilt circle. Humans are territorial. We always have been and we always will be. It doesn’t matter if your White, Black, Asian, or Native American. How do you think the Mayans, Aztecs and Native Americans got their lands? By being “peaceful fisherman”? Are you that naive? They got their land the same way everyone gets their land. They killed those who were in the lands before them. The Europeans allied with many warring tribes to aid in colonization. You could call it genocide but in your mind I’m sure genocide can only be committed by whites.

    The strong conquer the weak. Strong Natives conquered weak natives. Strong Africans conquered weak Africans (and then sold them into slavery). Strong Asians conquered weak Asians. Strong Europeans conquered weak Europeans. This crosses cultures and races. The strong conquer the weak. Period. The Europeans were the strongest during this time period. This is not racist. It is what it is. Just a couple hundred years ago the Arabs were rampaging through lands killing as they went along. They were stronger then those who they conquered. Before them the Romans conquered. This didn’t just start with the Europeans like white guilt liberals want to believe.

    Making like Natives are peace loving peoples while Europeans are the source of all evil is dishonest and pathetic. People are people. They can be peaceful or warlike. The only reason the natives didn’t conquer Europe is because they were weak. If they were stronger and the Europeans weak you better believe that they would have expanded and conquered. The only reason they didn’t was because they didn’t have the ability to and the Europeans did.

    I’d recommend you stay away from this game. Actually I recommend you stay away from all games. If your so easily offended I’m sure even games like Super Mario Brothers offends you because it’s two white men committing genocide against “peaceful” mushrooms and turtles.

  • Ted

    The game is called _EUROPA_ Universalis for one. Of course they’re going to emphasize a eurocentric model and that is the purpose. In previous Paradox titles they eventually do expand on non-European cultures with expansions and DLC. Secondly, to ignore the fact that this is a grand strategy game that encompasses the entire world across several centuries and for you to “crusade” for and specifically cater to a population that was essentially enslaved and systematically exterminated historically is just baffling. Cry me a river q.q

  • http://www.thewretchedryanenglish.com Ryan English

    It’s an interesting point, to be sure. I’m not sure if it’s enough to make me stop playing Europa Universalis, but it’s an interesting point.

    The only other Paradox title I’ve spent much time with is Hearts of Iron II, in which I’ve finished a campaign as Germany. I had a great time, even learned a little history, but I’d be lying if I didn’t spend some time wondering if it was ‘right’ to make a game out of playing as Germany in the Second World War. But here’s the thing: even in HOI2, the more unsavory aspects of Germany’s agenda are ignored. It’s presented simply as a sterile “this is how the war went, and you can manipulate the military units to see what will happen”, like a military history book that poses a “what if”.

    Europa Universalis gives just enough screen time to the victims of colonization that it ceases to be the dry historical “what if” and becomes a game mechanic that you are rewarded for exploiting. Sure, you can kill Nazis in historical battles in Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, but they don’t reward you with more power for doing so.

    If a Risk-style board game had a “slavery” mechanic or a “kill the natives to expand your empire” mechanic, I’d think it was a little in poor taste, but something about video games allows the player to gloss over those things.

    I haven’t yet figured out if the colonization in Europa Universalis is in poor taste or deserves to be condemned yet, but your post has certainly given me food for thought. Good article!

  • Jayson French

    … you do realize that by saying “everyone thinks this way” you’re being incredibly ethnocentric, right? I mean, that is a very recent, very Judeo-Christian European viewpoint. I haven’t picked up EU 4 yet, but I was and am a big fan of EU3, and I’ve played countless games where I’ve been Muslims trying to conquer Europe for Caliphate and country. In my personal life, I’m a white, Neo-pagan man (with significant Slavic and Celtic ancestry I’m fairly proud of) yet I see nothing wrong with stepping into the role of a violent invader shattering the Europeans. Let’s not forget, we’re talking about a ‘game’ here, and one that tries to make it all least possible to get amusing pseudohistories. Personally, I’ve never been able to get the Americas off the ground in EU3, but I’ve known very skilled players who have done so, and I’ve even played a very amusing mod where all of Europe was devastated by the black plague, Muslims have to colonize it, and the new world gets a chance to catch up. (My favorite country is Mali’s Colony in Britain) None of that is the point though, the point is this. This game is a EMPIRE MINDSET SIMULATOR in it’s most base form. It’s about showing you how an empire thinks, uses people and territory, and steamrolls forward, or how an empire makes nice pretty borders, or what have you. Empires don’t see pretty little cultures. Empires see ‘uncivilized savages’, and blunting that would actually be disrespectful to the people who experienced these empires first hand. I submit to you that any attempt to approach this subject while sanitizing it would be horrific, unjustified, and actually /worse/ than just showing it from the European perspective. Simply not approaching the subject is censorship of the worst and most abject sort, and would hinder our ability to fairly judge the past.

    Also, uh… France has been culturally genociding the Basque since before “France” was a national identity, “England” and later Britain has been performing sustained genocide on the Celts for centuries, and don’t get me started on the Balkans. History. Anywhere. Is full of genocide. Ignoring that is like burying your head in the sand and pretending no one in the world is starving. I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s a difference between being horrified by something and wanting to hide from it. Also? Try your hand at the mongols. If you want to conquer the world in EU4 according to my girlfriend, you play as a mongol horde as some point. Try getting some land behind you and genociding Europeans for Allah, or playing the Oirat Horde and converting the filthy monotheists to Buddhism (Well, ‘converting’. I never said the religious mechanics didn’t need work.) Seriously. It might make you feel better. It always makes me feel better getting revenge for the Old Prussians the Teutons slaughtered.

    • April Daniels

      “… you do realize that by saying “everyone thinks this way” you’re being incredibly ethnocentric, right? ”

      Rhetorical licence. I don’t literally think”everybody” even agrees on what color the sky is.

      Now, the bits you mention about the horrid things the Europeans do to each other are important to note. So important in fact that I did note them in my article, and how their depiction doesn’t disturb me because of how the game handles them.

  • Jeff Vader

    Europa Universalis, the clue about the central theme of the game is in the title. Europe. It is not about Political Correctness, which glosses over the slave trade by not having slaves in the game. Would you rather have the major African export of the time period to be ahistorical and have no mention of that fact.

    Secondly, your focus on the American tribes, whilst having valid points regarding historical representation is slightly misguided. More native die to diseases than from European conflicts and then later dispersed and by the new Nations. And you also failed to mention the genocides [Or would religious sacrifices be more appropriate] committed by the native populations before the Europeans came to the Americas. Then you also have cannibalism, but these are just glossed over in the game, and dealt with the same “abstraction” as Slavery, and if you want to call that Abstraction racist then I call you point of view screwed bias catering to a set demographic more suited to sunday tea parties.

    I must say I was completely surprised by your lack of info on the Muslim nations, its smacks of a bias view or other religious groups. And just to use your own words …. “A bit…say it with me now…racist?”

    Apart from the historical assumptions you have made though in your article, like the Incas having a King, which was a Monarchy which is by definition having a royal dynasty. Some North American Tribes having Monarchies, and your screenshot which shows the mass genocide committed by to Huron on the Iroquois I was a well written piece [A part from the profanity] even if I don’t agree with it.

    And I think both Rape and Murder is wrong and there is no excuse, I find paintbrush statements like this really aberrant.

  • Liam Lalonde

    Like the last game in the series, it did not stay Eurocentric at all, in fact it expanded off into Oriental Asia and the such, expanding the game through different gameplay mechanics and new flavour events and the like. Though, your argument has be cringing due to the fact that you think that many of the things you think should be touched upon more deeply and ‘corrected’ don’t actually need to be at all.

    The colonization screen is there to give you information on how successful you will be able to colonize the territory with you own people. There’s no /need/ to have a detailed thing about what natives are living there or what they do for a living because you’re only there to do one thing; to make the province your own. It’s life, and that’s how the Europeans did it, with guns, germs and immigration. The image representing the natives in the window is supposed to be a general caricature of the cultures of the area, and is inevitable to be a little racist depending on what your opinion is, but you must remember that most people don’t give a hoot about ‘political correctness’. The developers did what they needed to do to give the appropriate amount of game ‘flavour’, and so they don’t need to represent the hundreds of different cultural attire of the Native Americans because it’s such a small part of the game, even useless. The levels of ‘Ferocity’ and ‘Aggressiveness’ are also there just to tell you the possibility of the natives attacking your settlement, nothing more. No need to explain that they’re just defending their homeland in a gameplay sense, they just want to be sure that they might be in a pickle if the original inhabitants get a little pissed of at the people settling what they call theirs.

    The reason why there are so little Native American nations in the game is because Paradox decided to only include the most organized and recognizable confederacies and tributary empires, the ones that had most compatibility politically to the Europeans. These nations were united together enough so that they could put up some combined resistance to the Europeans, unlike, for example, their Algonquin brethren who were effectively nomads who traveled around the continent, never developing one place at a time for a longer period. There is also a reason for why the pace of technological progress for the Native nations, as if you look at references and archeological findings concerning the Natives, they have not advanced much from the neolithic age or were going through a period of technological stagnation, as seen in the Iroquois and Aztec nations, respectively. And by the time the Europeans arrived at their doorstep, they white men had far outdone the aboriginals in terms of technology, be it economically, agriculturally, architecturally, etc… Paradox Interactive was merely simulating how they fared up until the arrival of the Spanish. Heck, if you look at the game some more you can see that all the Native nations have the ability to Westernize and adopt the technologically superior styles of the Europeans, which would have been inevitable if they survived further than in our reality. It’s simply correct.

    Concerning the icons for advisors, again, that is simply a small aesthetic part of the total game, and does not affect how the game plays. It should not bother anyone, to be honest, if they’re playing for fun and simulate conquest. The vast majority of player play European nations anyway, not saying that nations in other continents are inferior in play style, but it really should not matter if the guy you hire looks white, because in the back of your head you imagine them the race your people are. There names aren’t even European if you play as any other culture!

    The inability for Native nations to explore is a gameplay problem. There was no purposeful reason for them to lock them up, you just need to develop long enough for you to get the idea to explore. Blaming how the game plays should not be an excuse to arse around with calling the developers ignorant. Hey, maybe they could create an event where the natives get some sort of free colonist to expand into the lesser unified lands of the Americas? Who knows.

    As explained in development diaries throughout the creation of this game, they have listed the nations they focussed on giving ‘flavour’ based on how much effect they had on the world in our reality. France and Britain have many different events due to how they molded the world, their empires stretching globally in reality, while some nation such as the Principality of Pskov did barely anything before being annexed by one of the greater Russian nations. It’s a matter of ‘Who ever did the most, gets the most’ and should not be taken as a bad thing, since the developers only wanted to make the game as enjoyable as possible to the nations who they assume people are going to be playing the most. The noticeable lack of any flavour for the natives is indeed intentional because they had next to no effect of the world due to the lack of possibilities they had and the situation they ended up in the world stage.

    You are perfectly correct when you say that the Americas are they to be colonized, because in the time of Europa Universalis, that’s what happened. Gameplay wise, the natives that inhabited the lands of North and South America could not put up a fight against the Europeans due to many factors that have been covered in many, MANY books and historical studies. The historical colonization of the Americas was pushed on by Europeans lust for gold, trade and exploration, to further their reach around the world and to out do their neighbours, to expand their peoples and borders. This happened, and so will happen in the game, simple. Yes, it sound unfair to some, but I will say, and repeat, it is an INEVITABILITY; nations looking for a route to China find land that they could easily take? They would definitely go for it! They don’t care for what they consider ‘barbarians’ who lived there first, they can easily kick them out and claim it for themselves! You make it as if it’s a good possibility that somehow, without any reason at all, large bands of natives would BAND UP in BROTHERHOOD to REPEL THE INVADERS, while in fact, they were as bickering between themselves as the Europeans were. The Americas are meant to be colonized in the game, and there’s nothing wrong with it, because that’s how it would have in every scenario that diverged from the year 1444 AD, with less than 60 years for the natives to do anything before they see tall ships off their coasts.

    Though, let’s say that a player manages to play the Iroqouis nation well enough that they survive to create some sort of European styled Republic of the Iroquois, and dominate the area around where they settle. The trade if biased towards a European dominated America, so the trade goes down to Europe. This is, indeed, a problem that needs to be fixed for gameplay purposes. What if I unify Japan and dominate trade in the Orient? I can’t direct any of it back to my Nippon trade node. It’s not only specific to the Natives, Ms. Daniels. Paradox Interactive just needs to expand on it through DLC and Expansions, simply enough.

    Also, concerning your disgust towards the implementation of ‘Slaves’ as a trade good, I must say, you must really not like history and the reality your ancestors lived in. As much as you imply that Slavery in Africa was a exclusively European thing, the Turks and Arabians also dealed in African slavery, many decades before the Europeans did actually. Heck, slavery was rampant between African tribes and kingdoms, so it’s no surprise that the developers put it in as a trade good. Slavery was awful, yes, but you have to understand that it was /normal/ back then, and so you have to put yourself in that mindset while playing and reap the benefits!

    Anyway, I hope you unify Germany as well as Herr Bismarck, and may your political correctness wane under the harsh acceptance of our reality!

    • http://www.thejidf.org Le Epic meme guy ft. touhou

      *grabs you by the throat*

      back the fuck off????????????????????/

    • http://www.thejidf.org Le Epic meme guy ft. touhou

      liam lalonde is an idiot

  • https://plus.google.com/106138916982947069926 Costa Keith

    It’s represented as land without a formal state for game play reasons, it’s not represented as empty land, there is empty land, look at the Falklands or Bermuda, for example, where there is 0 native population (the islands weren’t inhabited until Europeans arrived), but simply land without formal state ownership. There are user mods that fill in the land with various tribes, the problem is that this allows North America to be conquered at an ahistorically fast pace. The ’empty land’ forces players to use the colonization mechanic, reduces the ability of non-colonizing powers to conquer the Americas, and slows things down. I’ve played with some of the user mods that fill in the Americas and it leads to some rather strange and ahistorical results.

    Also, it’s not impossible to have a highly successful game as a Native American tribe, it’s not easy, but it shouldn’t be easy. Here’s one game where the player not only got the ‘No Trail of Tears’ achievement by conquering what was historically the 13 colonies, but even managed to capture Paris as the Cherokee before the end of the game:

    http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?716862-Catholic-Cherokee-colonizes-the-thirteen-colonies-No-trails-of-tears-achievement!&highlight=no+trail+of+tears

  • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

    I should probably note that this isn’t some kind of new thing: It’s something that has been discussed and argued about on the Paradox boards since at least EU2 and lots of people have made up their minds with regards to where various compromises should be drawn. So for a lot of people this isn’t a new discssion but more of “Oh God, not this again!”

    • April Daniels

      Ah, yes I imagine that might be trying for longtime players. I’m a noob to the series, myself.

      • Jeff Vader

        Well I suggest you give Crusader Kings 2 a good go.

        It is about people, the infanticide might cause you problems though.

      • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

        No worries, we were all noobs once :p

  • Game_Developer_Defender

    You know what Ms. Daniels, I’m bloody well damned tired of people like you, those that try to worm in your political and philosophical views into a completely unrelated article about a GAME. Has it not occured to you that each and every one of points has already been discussed in Paradox Interactive Forums?

    And here’s a rather minor point(Ha!) that you seemed to have forgotten, the Natives FAILED! They were slaughtered, assimulated, or pushed out of their lands. Representing them by giving them every square inch of land would lead to the game behaving with historical implausability and the developers were striving for Historical plausability. Don’t like it? Don’t play it. We will not weep for your loss.

    And you know what I’ma gonna do when I get the game? Slaughter every last injun I see! And I’ll be thinking about you when I do.

  • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

    On the more general issue, I think putting slavery, or even genocide, in context is important. In this case in the context of economic competition and political rivalry between european states. These were things that were done (mainly) in order to make money, money that was desperately needed to fight european wars. (although the side effects were far more far-reaching)

  • Guillaume

    The issue of representing the natives and their relation to colonization in North America in Europa Universalis is not an easy one (I’ve tried, and still am trying, via mods).

    Giving proper representation to even the Eastern Woodlands cultures (on whom we have the most information for the Europa Universalis era), takes a very significant amount of research and development work that Paradox would have to take away from some other part of the games.

    Further west, or in large stretches of Africa, it becomes even worse as the information for these regions in the Europa era get increasingly sparse. (For example, we have sparse and often conflicting information on which plain tribe was where prior to the nineteenth century)

    Moreover, each new nation you add to the game slow the game down. Add just a few and its negligible, but – having tried it – even without trying to fill all those regions, trying to add reasonable depth to Africa and the Americas can easily account for 50, 100 or more new nations. That isn’t a negligible performance hit anymore. Add in unique mechanisms for those regions and you compound the problem.

    Third, representing all of America as native nations present some issues of its own – fundamentally that it either forces the human to take every territory over by war (and that would be just as unrealistic as the entire continent being empty, especially in the Saint Lawrence lowlands and on the East Coast), or it forces Paradox to put an event in the game to represent smallpox and the rest depopulating those regions. Of course, any nation that is condemned to automatically vanish is going to be seen in a very negative light by human players (especially given the impact of additional nations on performance).

    None of which fully explains ALL the decisions Paradox insist on in regard to those nations, but they’re all significant factors that help understand it.

  • Sara Clemens

    Can we put the “if you don’t like it, don’t play it” argument to bed yet? Because if you don’t like an article you don’t have to read it, let alone write a whole multiparagraph essay of your own in the comment section.

    Let’s just all agree we humans love analyzing the fuck out of stuff. Now, once more unto the breach!

    P.S. April, welcome to Gamemoir. Quite a splash for your first outing!

    • April Daniels

      Thanks! I wasn’t expecting to get such a big reaction my first time out, but I’m glad people are reading it.

      • Jake

        Should you really be glad if the reaction is how incredibly poorly it was written?

      • poddster

        You’ve stirred up a hornets nest. You’ve allowed your article to go down the well trodden road of “Why isn’t RTTW any good in EU2/3/4?”. It’s something the rabid psychopaths on the Paradox forums love to shout at each other about 24/7, and now they’re shouting at you about it.

  • derpderp

    europa universalis doesn’t model the full horror of colonization, i guess they must be colonial apolgists

    hearts of iron doesn’t let me build concentration camps, i guess paradox are a bunch of nazis, huh

    fuck you, man, you’re an idiot

    • Liam Lalonde

      Oh come on, at least say something constructive, or maybe a little nicer.

  • disgruntled

    I saw a link to your “insightful” article on 4chan. Lots of other people are seeing it too!(We’re making sure of that). That’s what you wanted, right? Attention?Enjoy.;)
    It’s a shame people like you feel the need to grind your political axes at the expense of small game studios. Political correctness is a cancer on the creative communities of the world.
    Maybe you should find some other outlet for your anti-male, anti-white screeds . Somewhere more appropriate than cloaking it as a gaming review. Go spew your sexist bigotry on tumbler with the rest of the hatemongers, please.
    PS if you’re really offended by Genocide, don’t play DEFCON. It’s a game about nuclear war.At one point, when the bombs start dropping, you can hear a woman, someone in your war room probably, start weeping unconsolably.I can take a guess…that’s sexist, right? Whereas EU 4 doesn’t actually even HAVE a mechanic for genocide.
    Can’t wait for your insightful article about mass murder in GTA.

  • Sara Clemens

    And while we’re talking a bit about context, I would like to point out that while it’s super awesome to have so many (!) new visitors to the site, please do keep in mind our name is a combination of “game” and “memoir,” so it’s bound to focus on the personal gaming experiences of the writers.

    In fact, if you check out our “About” section, you’ll find that this is decidedly NOT the site to visit for your typical news and reviews, and personal gaming experiences are kind of our deal:

    “Gamemoir is a video game culture and lifestyle website dedicated to delivering entertaining, fresh, and through-provoking content to our readers. We don’t publish video game repetitive news and reviews that you might have seen from a myriad of other gaming sites. We write about the experiences, reflections, people we meet, and the games we love to play from the unique perspective of our diverse stable of contributors. We dig deeper into dissecting our favorite video games to give our readers a new perspective on topics they thought they knew. Gamemoir was inspired by the moments when we found out about an elusive easter egg in Grand Theft Auto, we realized gamers tend to share the same characteristics, or the time we pondered about philosophical undertones of the video game Shadow of the Colossus and so on.”

    It really is way cool to have so many people reading, though.

    • Liam Lalonde

      Ah, very well then. Though some opinions are bound to stir up a fire.

      … Maybe some of us don’t like certain opinions, and we simply just can’t help ourselves?

      • Sara Clemens

        You’re fine! No one’s discouraging discussion and/or disagreement.

        I’m just saying sometimes you gotta look at the frame and not just the painting.

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com Nick Verboon

    09/23/2013- The day Gamemoir became /pol/.

  • Jake

    This reads like it was written by someone with a very shallow education of history, while at the same time possessing an oversensitive liberal arts perception of the world. Where it’s all about some kind of vague, syrupy notion of feeling and fairness. It also follows a totally cliche’d structure, from liking the game, to ferreting out some oh so dark cultural truth.

    Well, screw you lady. Read up on the French and Indian Wars sometimes. Hell, read up on the First Nations wars. The Indians were pushing each other out of territory and massacring other tribes for hundreds if not thousands of years before we got there, and as late as the early 1800s, many of the larger tribes felt themselves superior to and more powerful than the United States. There’s an infamous story of a Pawnee chieftain who refused an invitation to meet the President of the United States because he felt it was beneath him.

    If the French had won the French and Indian Wars, North America would probably look like Algeria today. And even the British government later tried to restrict American settlers from expansion. But the French lost, the Indians lost and the British lost. Then the Spanish lost. It happened. You might as well write an article condemning the Turks for not giving Constantinople back to the Greeks.

    Now go do what liberal arts majors do who don’t find the time to write shitty gamer articles, and go find an ethnic boyfriend (or girlfriend) and tearfully screw your white guilt away..Cause you’re such a horrible horrible person for being a white American, you gotta make it up to em somehow!

    • poddster

      The author seemed to understand history well enough. To me it reads like someone who doesn’t understand how much time it takes to develop a game like EU4, and that representing non-European cultures faithfully is a massive time sink.

      The way they represent the natives in the game is a bit crap, but it’s easy for both the player and designers to work with and works well enough. (Remember: The game doesn’t even simulate population properly, so the cities in central europe never get any larger than they are in 1444).

  • Martin Kasakov

    Setting aside issues of political correctness and offending our modern sensibilities (which will inevitably come up in any remotely historical portrayal of this time period), there are several mods which populate the “new world” with many more native nations (See http://cloud-3.steampowered.com/ugc/920146659484928584/89B31A5E152E79D55D7C10C3E8B44E15BBF04862/637×358.resizedimage), but these mods create a number of performance and gameplay issues, and even if you’re willing to look past that, it still won’t help with your disgust at the thought of genocide. These nations are still going to have a hard time when the Europeans show up (Much like their historical counterparts). Nor would it provide the “better represented” native experience you’re looking for. Adding more nations would simply lead to them becoming more and more same-y and generic. Filling in the “empty” land clearly isn’t the answer.

    Also, I’m puzzled at your revulsion of inclusion of slaves as a trade good. Because slaves WERE a trade good. That’s what the slave trade that we were taught about in school was. Obviously, slavery is a morally abhorrent practice, but that doesn’t change the fact that this happened at this point in time. There exists a mod that replace slaves with oranges (See http://cloud-2.steampowered.com/ugc/921273104821630404/345B5615041D1D4BDB24899840B07313AA947BC6/), but I fail to see how sticking our heads in the sand pretending that slavery never happened is more enlightened. As a society, we can agree that holocaust denial is a terrible thing. Why is slavery denial tolerated? Omitting slavery entirely from a game that takes place in the 15th-19th centuries clearly isn’t the answer.

    So what would you suggest, April? The game is fairly open to changes and modding, and it’s not even particularly difficult to do. I’m sure you, yourself, could create a mod that fulfills your expectations of how colonization SHOULD be represented. But how is that, exactly? You’ve done an excellent job in pointing out what parts of the game (And by extension, what parts of history) offend you. But how would you go about fixing the former without divorcing it from the latter?

    Lastly, as you seem to be rather new to the series, it’s worth pointing out that while the Native American nations are not there “simply for the European player’s benefit”. It would be more accurate to say that the nations are represented to offer a challenge to players who are bored of stomping across Europe as France for the 20th time. Case in point: The coming patch adds an achievement for playing as the Aztecs and conquering Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Rome. Natives do have some severe disadvantages relative to European nations, but if it were otherwise it would be baffling and ahistoric to the extreme. But these disadvantages are nothing that veteran players can’t overcome. If you want to avoid the wholesale genocide in your game, my advice would be to get better at it and lead the Huron to victory over the terrible white man. It’s hard (And it should be) but not impossible.

  • hwoosh

    April, in case you couldn’t tell, a flood of awful bigots is pouring in from the Paradox forums to shit all over your comments section. Pay them no mind.

    • Liam Lalonde

      I’m not a bigot. What makes you think that?

      • hwoosh

        I didn’t single out you in particular, did I?

    • April Daniels

      I went over and checked out the Paradox forums, and was encouraged to see that there were several posters making very similar arguments to mind in the thread about this article. But yes, your advice is well taken.

      • Martin Kasakov

        Given how uninformed the arguments in your article are, I don’t see what’s encouraging about this.

  • Hatey

    I understand why you play games, clearly you can’t face reality. The only question that remains is why you don’t just play kids games?

  • http://cdrbedlam.wordpress.com Yesika Reyes

    Hello readers. It is okay to disagree and refute a writer’s opinion, but it’s unacceptable to use racial slurs of any kind.

    Cheers and please discuss constructively instead of resorting to personal attacks.

    We do not censor what our writers post as long as it does not promote any form of hate or is malicious in intent. They are free to write their own opinion since it is based on personal experience as Sara, our contributor, explained.

    • Liam Lalonde

      But what if, in a hypothetical example, one of your writer’s opinions are naturally racist? So you allow one opinion but ban another? Kind of hypocritical.

      • Sara Clemens

        Come on now Liam, we’re talking straight-up hate speech and you know it. April didn’t use a single racial slur in her piece, and if she did, you’d better believe we’d delete it too.

      • http://cdrbedlam.wordpress.com Yesika Reyes

        I only ban the ones with slurs like ‘kike’ or ‘goyim.’ I’ve approved everyone else’s even if they vehemently disagreed with her opinion. At least they don’t use anti-semitic slurs. Opinions aren’t meant to apply to everyone.

        If this article personally offends you, I sincerely apologize. I personally believe that April is simply voicing what she observed based on her experiences in and outside of the game. I do not think that it was her intent to attack any group in particular. She has been nothing but civil in the comments even to her strongest detractors.

        • April Daniels

          Indeed. It was never my intention to offend anyone, but only point out something I noticed about a game I otherwise really enjoyed. I’m happy to talk in a civil manner to anyone who has something to say, but Yesika is right about there not being any place for slurs her.

      • Jake

        They’re simply making a distinction between moronic and misinformed, and I don’t know, calling white Americans the benefactors of genocide, which is such an absurd statement as to bring to mind every cliche’d stereotype of a young female writer…and I guess, derogatory statements about other folks, of which I haven’t see much on here at all. Mostly it’s been vehement contempt.

  • Inkshooter

    While I’m rather disturbed by the slew of fiery hatred being directed towards the author here, I have to admit that I disagree with almost everything in this review past the actual gameplay analysis.

    The author seems to be applying her modern sensibilities and morals to a work that tries to emulate history, a mindset that any historian will tell you is extremely counterproductive and useless when analyzing the actions and motives of people that lived long ago. The people that colonized the New World and ultimately repopulated it did so because they had superior technology and saw the people they were conquering as barbaric and uncivilized. It’s a pattern that appears over and over again throughout history- those with power use it, and those without power suffer for it. Many centuries earlier, the very Britons that colonized North America were being subjugated themselves by the Roman Empire.

    In the Western world today, white people do indeed typically hold more power than other groups, but it’s important to understand exactly how that happened in the first place, and why. Your average European explorer in the 1500s probably had no notion of ‘race’ or ‘privilege’, only Christian and Heathen, Civilized and Savage.

    • http://cdrbedlam.wordpress.com Yesika Reyes

      This type of comment is okay. No racial slurs or personal attacks. Just someone who is engaging in a discussion either by agreeing or disagreeing with the topic.

  • Inkshooter

    This isn’t /pol/. I agree that this review is horribly misguided, but acting like a racist buffoon only serves to make her into a martyr.

    • Jake

      She didn’t need any help to be a martyr. Offhandedly blaming an entire race for genocide is fine. But a few smarmy comments in the thread is SERIOUS BUSINESS.

  • George

    You do realize that you killed off 40k people in the game, who were most likely soldiers against their will(As was the situation during the time) leaving thousands of soldier’s wives widows and thousands of children fatherless? And you’re complaining about a completely historically accurate event???

    Yes, the religion system in the Americas is oversimplified, but it would be way to complicated to add in all the separate religions in for no gain. Also, it doesn’t act like the Americas are empty, you see thousands of angry natives desperately defending their land when you colonize.

    Yes, the Americas are just there for colonization. The game is called Europa Univeralis. This is from the viewpoint of a European civilization, and they saw the native tribes as mostly fractured small quarelling tribes(Which they were, for the most part) except for a select few very large tribes/civilizations like the Aztecs, Creek, Cherokee, Inca etc. etc.

    Also, of course the European nations are the most developed. Like I said earlier, the game is Europa Universalis. Not to say that the other nations in other parts of the world aren’t developed in the game. Judging from the article, you never played any of the Muslims, Indians, Chinese, Mongols, or Japanese. If you did, you would see the work they put into them.

    Finally, you don’t seem to know what racist means, so I’ll explain. Racism is the belief that one race is better than another. The Indian is NOT racist. It is stereo-typical, but do you reallye expect them to put in a special stylized drawing for every single native tribe in the Americas, Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Greenland and Siberia? What would the player get out of that? Nothing.

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com Nick Verboon

    Must…..resist….. typing….No U…

  • http://cdrbedlam.wordpress.com Yesika Reyes

    Lastly, please keep in mind that Gamemoir does not strive to be an authority on video games. This website was made for gamers to freely express their opinion on video games and the culture surrounding it. Discussion is encouraged regardless if you agree or disagree. We also encourage readers to voice their thoughts through ‘Question of the Day’ since we want to make lists in the future that incorporate input from regular writers and our readers.

    Anyone can write for us. We publish guest articles in addition to people who volunteer to write on a regular basis.

    • Jake

      So basically, Gamemoir wants to the half-baked Slate or Salon.com of the video game industry? What’s April gonna write about next? Her thoughts and feelings about her first interracial experience in Mass Effect?

      • http://cdrbedlam.wordpress.com Yesika Reyes

        We are not trying to be anything. To tell you the truth, my friends and I made Gamemoir as a sort of hub for all our opinions. Others eventually joined up. There is no agenda to be Slate, IGN, or Kotaku. That’s the honest story. I’ll be the first to admit that we are not perfect. We haven’t played all of the games out there or have a wide-ranging perspective on everything.

        April’s article is controversial and she has her own opinions. She is entitled to that. That doesn’t mean she is asking people to think the same and that the rest of the writers share it.

        Anyway, thank you for giving your thoughts. I sincerely apologize if this has offended you in any way.

  • ilker

    It is so sad to see people bashing author for her opinions. Naive or not everybody is entitled to their own opinion. If you don’t like them, do not feel obliged to comment/reply and do not force your opinions to her. Some people can’t even keep the discussion to a civic degree.
    Gotta blame internet for that..

  • Mike

    Did we all forget about the nightmare alt-history Sunset Invasion possibilities? Girl, if some version of this genocide simulator the new world is a monstrous Aztec Empire with unique ideas, religion and capable of actually invading Europe and making gains. The developers coded in ideas for both Aztec and Inca, and extended a new technology group “High American” to all Native States. Also, the reason most tribes in North America are not included is because they do not fit the idea of what a “country” is for EU3. Huron and Iroquois were some of the most advanced Indian nations, so they gain permanent territory, as opposed to the Apache, who held very limited permanent land and constantly fought each other. The generic ideas and missions you mention are bollocks as well, as both those Native nations receive a number of missions exclusive to the new world. Paradox also releases all of its games with an amazing editor, and some of the first modifications to come out are those that flesh out the nations of the world. In an upcoming patch, 20 new cultures are getting unique ideas,including Indian and African states and regions. I’m sorry about your white guilt, but when you play the Europa game of colonization, the focus is on where it should be; competition with other European powers. We fought each other for the opportunity to bring death and extinction to the New World, and I would find fault with PI if they tried to portray it otherwise.

    Also, if you are really that bothered by your white guilt/the colonization system why not make yourself a nice mod and play it to your heart’s content?

    Or do what I do, play China.

  • Bryan Johnson

    There’s two things at play here. First, colonization of the Americas involves a lot of native-killing because that is exactly what happened historically. Doing it any other way would be offensive, because it would be downplaying a very real, very disgusting period of human history. If anything, Paradox should be getting praise for taking it seriously and not glossing it over.

    The second issue you have is that the natives themselves don’t have all the idea groups, different religions, multitude of nations, intricate diplomacy, and so on that a more fleshed out version of the Indians might have. The problem here is that all of that effort would go to waste as soon as the Europeans landed. The end result would still, at least most of the time, be the utter destruction of the natives at every turn by European powers, just like happens in-game already, and just like happened historically. It might add a bit more flavor to make colonization a bit more interesting, and would make it a bit more interesting to play as them for the few players good enough to prevent the European Apocalypse, but overall it would be a lot of effort for very little payoff.

    It might see the light of day in a DLC someday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Paradox has a huge list of other things they want to add, that would give more gameplay for less effort. However, there is a huge difference between good resource management, and racism. There are many reasons that the Americas are portrayed the way they are, and I can see no reason to believe that racism is one of them.

    If you really still think that Paradox is racist, then please, please call them up, get in a chat with Johan or whoever was in charge of the Americas, and discuss it with them. Either you will get some actual, concrete proof that they are actually racist, which you can then post, or you will be convinced that they are, in fact, not nearly as racist as you have assumed, and can delete this post.

    Currently, no matter what the facts actually are, this article is simply baseless slander against a company that in no way deserves it. If you have any respect for the gaming community or journalism in general, please take responsibility for your actions and get the facts before you throw around accusations.

  • Mauricio Michel

    As a person of both native mexican and european ancestry and rather left leaning, who thoroughly enjoys the game I have to say I both agree and don’t with the article.

    The game is set in the age of discovery when exploitation and abuse was the norm, it’s horrible, and it’s not a nice feeling having to send people to their deaths or wipe out an entire culture and replace it with your own just to be able to squeeze more money and manpower who you can then send to their deaths some more.

    You’re right the game doesn’t question these and a lot more things or provide any kind of social commentary, but why should it? Why should the developers? They do acknowledge the social injustice of the time and even employ sarcasm about it, the game being fraught with messages telling you about “ungrateful natives” rebelling in your colonies, defending your newly cored provinces “to the last drop of peasant blood”, etc. In the end they’re making a game that represents the struggle of civilizations of the time as best as is possible and you know full well what you’re gonna find when you play it.

    I won’t tell you to not play it if you don’t like it, that’s just a stupid thing to say. Like you yourself figured out you don’t need to colonize or be a tyrant in general to have a successful country, in fact I usually try to play a republic or become one and be as religiously tolerant as possible, even if it’s not the most profitable thing to do gameplay-wise. A lot of people go by the numbers with such intricate detail it’s funny, “don’t build that building on provinces with less than X base tax after 1600, you’ll never get an acceptable return on investment!”, hey I want my people to have a dock so they can ship their stuff and make a living or have that new shiny new fort level 4 so they can feel safe!, I like to take the revolution-counter-revolution idea so I can wage war on monarchist scum and force them to institute republican governments instead.

    In the end you can play as you like, it’s a game, you don’t have to enter the slave trade so that your plantations in the Caribbean become more productive, and if you do, it’s no big deal really, it’s all numbers in a screen. And you can always pass the Abolition of Slavery Act and force slave producing provinces to produce something else instead.

    St. Mauritius was a christian saint of African origin, he was venerated in some places of Europe and depicted as a black man, his popularity waned as the African slave trade gained importance and Europeans started treating blacks as the “other”.

    Also, the Aztecs were major assholes, up there with the Spaniards, so don’t feel bad about genociding the hell out of them, or any other people for that matter, they were all assholes to each other back then. 😉

  • John Henry

    Lady, that’s the simple truth of the world – while yes, natives lived there, they didn’t have the political structures and such that we would call today a ‘state’, or the modern parlance of ‘nation’. The simple truth is that Europe left this kind of tribalism long ago, and the Native Amis didn’t. A question you should ask is, WHY didn’t the Natives bother with structures like nation-states, ideology (beyond simple clan/tribe), or even things like written language. You wouldn’t be the first to ask this question really, it bothered thinkers like Tocqueville well centuries after the colonizations had begun, and even in the case with French-descended colonies, which were very different structurally from their English counterparts. I’m sorry if the truth offends you, but the fact is, for what Native American civilization was, it was not able to stand up to structures that not just Europe, but the rest of the (broadly-speaking, Asia to Europe to North Africa) civilized world had developed. Was it so hard to invent something as simple as organized agriculture? According to the historical record, for many, yes. Why should we pretend that they were, at least in matters relating to their own survival from outside forces, on par or superior? Culturally, you can say they were richer if you want. That is a subjective matter. But technology wise? No…those questions of inquiry that create progress simply didn’t seem to come to them, or if it did, it clearly wasn’t as extensive. Its demonstrated by the tribes themselves in the end – those that felt still some urge to survive, embraced the accumulation of thousands of years of progress that was embodied in the arrival of the colonists. Guns replaced bows and arrows. Bows themselves became of better material and workmanship from information of not only ‘white’ bows like the Longbow but knowledge of Mongolian/Turkish bow experience. Tomahawks with blades of obsidian were hastily replaced with heads of iron and steel. Cherokee’s and others embraced not only paper, but written language (which fascinated Tocqueville when he visited here), if they didn’t wholesale adopt English/etc.

    And as a non-white person, I can tell you its not just some mighty whitey crime, colonization. Assuming Europe had never made the trip over, others WOULD have, even if it took a hundred or hundreds of more years. Would it be less damaging to your ideological persuasions if some non-white country had come to colonize? Because that is what it is the simple truth, they would have. If there is more truth than we realized to Zheng He’s treasure fleets vising the New World, and if history had been slightly different, the West Coast of the Americas would be Chinese-descended colonists, and whatever their nation-state was. That is simply how things were, how they are, and likely how they will be. It’s all so wrong because you’re taking today’s social consciousness, for better or worse, and retroactively applying it to the past to pronounce judgement. Racism…are we going to begrudge our ancestors so much for it when in their times, it was acceptable to hate the next town over for some horrible harm that they did to yours? Where one would readily hate their own genetic and cultural nearest neighbors over some foreigner? And where race-relations were more complex than SJWs of today can reduce them too – Sartaq Khan (Asiatic) of the Golden Horde’s sworn blood brother was none other Alexander Nevsky (white), one of the saints of Russia, and indeed, all the Hordes were very tolerant and syncretic race wise. This is what I’m talking about when it comes to the past. We can’t simply fit the square of our modern views on the circle peg of history and our past, without first understanding the past.

    In fact, examples of colonization before the era of Evil White Men(tm) are not so hard to find – if you take Paradox’s previous era game, Crusader Kings II, even centuries of effort are not enough to prepare most players for what is Genghis Khan and the Illkhanate / Golden Horde descending on their part of the world. And for even the most ravenous hater of the colonizers, there is NOTHING they did that compares to the feats of sheer violence that the Mongols committed to Europe, just like in Asia (along of course with science, art, math, ideas – the other face of conquest). In fact, if you take the Old God’s start date, you can see visually it wasn’t long ago that the Hungarians of today were a tribe that decamped for, or if you will, colonized their part of Europe that we know today. Similarly, the Turks, who never we’re native to Anatolia. Go back a bit farther, to the Roman times, when tribe after tribe went into Rome in search of territory to colonize, or the Romans, who felt fit to colonize their fellow white people likewise. And if the Chinese didn’t colonize first, the Japanese would have. Or even going more fancifully, what if the Malian Empire had persevered or a new one came forth, like what nearly the Fulani Jihad achieved? And there were these rumors of a thing called the New World. Mali had the resources certainly, and the ambition – so would they have never colonized, because some people today view racism as something only white people can do to non-whites? We both know the answer to that one…

    You’re unfortunately in my opinion, viewing history as simply a one way wheel towards progress and the eventual….holy land of sorts, for Social Justice Warriors. Where every single past before the rise of the people who would save mankind (the SJWs) is unforgivable sin. Am I a man of privilege thanks to simply where I was born and what I was born as? That is for you to decide, but if I am, I’ll say that I’m proud of being of this nation of the New World. It to me, is far far far more worth embracing than some mythical alternate history where everyone in the world agreed to keep the New World as some sick, cruel kind of human zoo from which to ogle the hapless natives. Fortunately, for better and worse, the world picked the path of colonization. And I ended up in a country whose ideals I adore and consider the best hope for humanity (of course that is subjective too, but I digress). In the end, that’s what the bigger picture is about – a better day for all mankind, which is why Man (or humankind? People? Terran? What is a SJW way of saying humanity?) is a being OF PROGRESS. This isn’t even cheap Social Darwinism, quite the opposite. The weak have a strength all their own, when they believe in themselves and what they stand for. We as people are naturally prejudiced towards making a better day, at least in my opinion. That is what history is all about.

    So in short, what do I think of this ‘genocide’? It was simply destiny, and considering what we’ve made of it, than yes, I embrace it. That genocide as you call it is what allowed mankind as a whole to rise to new heights never before dreamed, and will let us rise as a whole to new heights that even we can only dream of. And that, my friend, is history. Now mind you, I’ll be over here playing a game as a lowly damiyo unifying Japan, and then showing the world (including those Europeans) what a group of people with belief and faith can do. I assure you it’ll be at least something.

  • http://gravatar.com/poddster poddsterPod

    EU3 started off very bare bones and then many expansions later added other game mechanics to flesh out the rest of the world. They didn’t complete fleshing it out, however, and so mods like the EU3 “rest of the world mod” were necessary if you wanted to have a fun time outside of Europa.

    CK2 started off entirely Christendom focused, but then they released expansions that added specific muslim, pagan and orthodox mechanics.

    Let’s hope some future EU4 expansion improves the Native American experience. (Especially as playing a native american state is very dull right now)

  • poddster

    Europa Univesilas is a Euro-centric game by design. It takes a lot of time to design an accurate depiction of the entire world, so they’ve only bothered with Europa. I can’t blame them.

    EU3 started off very bare bones and then many expansions later added other game mechanics to flesh out the rest of the world. They didn’t complete fleshing it out, however, and so mods like the EU3 “rest of the world mod” were necessary if you wanted to have a fun time outside of Europe.

    CK2 started off entirely Christendom focused, but then they released expansions that added specific muslim, pagan and orthodox mechanics.

    Let’s hope some future EU4 expansion improves the rest of the word experience. (Especially as playing a native american state is very dull right now)

  • hwoosh

    April, there are aren’t too many other games out there that directly tackly colonialism, but another excellent game that came out this year with a much more nuanced treatment of Europeans in the New World is Expeditions: Conquistador. I wonder if you’ve played it or have any thoughts. Here’s an interesting take from another blog: http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=10962

    • April Daniels

      I have not played that yet, but I’m intrigued by it. I might give it a whirl when I have the cash. Thanks!

  • soverene

    I don’t think it’s the job of a grand strategy game about world history to question genocide or any other horrible parts of the past. It is a simple simulation/representation of Europe’s view of colonialism, without whitewashing it. Historically, technological advancements were faster in Europe that in North America during this period. And historically the native americans did get trampled and pushed out of their own lands.

    This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to play as them anyway if you want to, but it should be a much greater challenge than playing as say, Spain. It is very much possible to play and win as native americans, but it’s obviously not something you can just jump in and do right away on your first game.

    • April Daniels

      I wouldn’t say that I think the Native American factions (or any of the other indigenous peoples’ factions) need to be able to stand toe-to-toe with a line of Redcoats, but it would be nice if they were developed and rich enough to be as fun to play as the European powers. That means more national decisions, more missions, more unique units, and so on.

  • Our People Revel in Freedom events were also a constant problem.

    This article reminds me of that time when I committed a genocide in Australia (New Zealand’s colonization went rather peacefully and with only minor skirmishes against Maoris) , must have been a horrible experience to those aboriginals; waves and waves of Chinese colonists and soldiers arriving and killing everyone,


    ….
    I have no regrets: I would had allowed them to live if they had been smart enough to not move against my colonies .

    That was a pretty good game actually; with some Japanese provinces rebelling and joining some African tribe that name I can’t remember, Brazilian taking most of Iberian peninsula and me claiming basically (and civilizing aka ethnically cleansing) the entire Siberia and Southeastern Asia.

  • https://www.facebook.com/emil.soderman.37 Emil Söderman

    This actually got me thinking about the pros/cons of another game regarding the conquest of the Americas, Sid Meier’s venerable “Colonization”.

    Now, that game only focuses on the colonial aspect, and that in many ways makes it a better representation. Natives are given a variety of representation and you have a variety of options dealing with them (trading, giving them guns and horses and sicking them on your rivals, plundering their cities for gold, or just trying to avoid them) it still has the issues of natives being nonplayable obstacles, but in some ways it at least shows a better picture of the complexities of native interaction.

    OTOH, Colonization completely (understandably, but I think mistakenly) skips over the importance of the african slave-trade. Which means you end up with a very weird picture of coloinal life.

  • Cosmo

    This review is so bad, it’s not even funny. I’m not posting any constructive feedback as everything has already been said. It’s just sad to see someone debut with such a mess.

  • kublikhan

    I don’t think you understand what kind of performance penalty would hit this game if they tried to make every tiny 1 territory province into a faction of it’s own. They tried doing something similar to what you are asking in the game Total War: Rome II. It was a disaster. You see in Rome 1 the 1 territory provinces where just represented as overly simplistic “rebels”. They had no options for trade, diplomacy, culture, military expansion, etc. So they tried to improve things in the sequel and make every province belong to a faction, over 200 of them. This lead to each turn taking 2-10 minutes, diplomacy spanning over 200 factions that need attention, multiplayer desync issues, etc.

    IMHO, issues such as this are better addressed by mods to the game. Some complained that Rome I was beautifully fleshed out for the Roman factions, but the same level of love and attention was not given to their other factions in the game. This is perfectly understandable. There are constraints when developing a game: performance issues, time constraints, budget constraints, etc. However some enterprising fans of the game released mods that gave their beloved faction the attention it deserves(Hellenistic mods, barbarian mods, etc). The same thing could be done here. Just be patient and wait for a mod, expansion, DLC, etc.

  • Sovetskysoyuz

    Something that has been overlooked in all the sound and fury here…
    If you import a Sunset Invasion save from CK2, the Aztec and Inca will have all the unique treatment you could ask for (since Sunset Invasion posits a hypothetical reality of technological parity).

    http://www.pcgamer.com/2013/08/14/three-hidden-nations-from-the-crusader-kings-ii-to-europa-universalis-iv-save-converter/?ns_campaign=article-feed&ns_mchannel=ref&ns_source=steam&ns_linkname=0&ns_fee=0

  • Mojrim

    While you have done a fine job of analyzing what is in EUIV it seems you are making projections based on a false notion of what was in the New World at the time. Simply put, it was never possible for the Americas to develop the food sources needed to create the population density that drove Eurasian political development. With a couple notable (and tragically limited) examples that degree of complexity, with taxation, standing armies, and specialized political advisors was literally never going to happen. Absent turning it into a fantasy game there is no way for the Aztecs to invade Europe. The one-way technological and organizational imbalance made treating the locals as terrain obstacles inevitable.

  • Satyr

    Due to the author’s complaints, a politically correct mod is now in development: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=182193625

  • asdasd

    Jesus Christ what an awful article

  • dudre

    Considering the fact that slavery is not something that existed just because Europeans made it exist I don’t see why having slaves as a trade good is oh so wrong. Slavery existed because local warlords captured the warriors and tribesmen of their enemies. They then traded these captives, or slaves, among their allies, themselves or sometimes to outside powers like Europeans or Muslim states. If these people didn’t voluntarily sell off their own captives slavery would not have existed at all. There is no possible way that Europeans would have single handedly, and without heavy casualties of their own, invaded Africa and captured thousands upon thousands of Africans before advanced technology and medicine came along (think 1850 and onward). Slaves would have existed no matter what the Europeans thought to do with them because it was a lucrative business nonetheless. In fact slavery has existed for about as long as civilization itself has.

    Furthermore, the reason for the Americas being largely empty is because of the fact that for most of the period there simply didn’t exist states in those areas in the way that states and nations are represented in the EU series. It would not make sense for an Inuit state or nation to exist in northern Canada or Greenland because there simply was no such thing. It wouldn’t make sense for a nomadic north American people to be represented with a state because there was no such thing. Loose confederations or some such thing, yes. Not something that ran along the same lines as the Spanish empire or the Japanese shogunate or any other nation that makes more sense to include in a game that’s about actual nations with bureaucracies and kings and what have you. The American states that were similar to other nations in the world (the Aztecs and other cultures of Central America and the Incans of the Andes) are included because they can be represented in a somewhat realistic way, even though they are, perhaps, unfairly disadvantaged (though their technology really wasn’t up to par with Europeans or other old world nations at all). I would go so far as to say there simply shouldn’t be any north American states at all.

    Before you think to write an article such as this at least make sure you have a clue what you’re talking about. It’s not just about being “politically correct” when you’re making a game such as this, it’s about closely resembling history while allowing for some wiggle room to exist. If they didn’t represent things such as slaves they would lack something that truly defined the era the game is about, and that’s without saying anything about the fact that slaves really only play a very minor role in the game as it is (the system should ideally be expanded).

    • A2theK

      A lot of implausible, unrealistic and ahistorical opportunities for expansion exist for European powers are available in the game. However inflicting the indigenous cultures with same system of colonization and exploration in effect denies them anything that even resembles those opportunities, even a variation that keeps them effectively stunted until the appearance of Western powers with their much more advanced and devastating technologies.

      Treating slavery as just another trade good is also doing the notion a great deal of injustice. True it may have been practiced by African cultures at the time, a reality that would have otherwise made the industrial scale use of African descended slaves in the American colonies an implausible joke. In reality even at the times portrayed in the game it was a matter of growing controversy – the documented history of the abolition movements goes back to the third century BC, a number of European states banned the trade of slavery prior to the games start-date including a Papal banning of slave taking in the Canary Islands a decade before the game starts. For the European based powers, mostly explicitly Catholic, that are the unabashed focus of the game to treat slaves as just another commodity is a repudiation of history regardless of what the practices of the African nations were historically.

      Even the one way trade patterns of the game lock the world into a very predatory worldview. While it’s possible to platy the game in a manner that allows you to portray an anachronistically enlightened world power or elsewhere – expansion through consent and defensive wars exclusively, the trade cycle is predicated on some troubling assumptions.

      In fact the game is built on some very dicey moral assumptions. It may not possible, or even desirable, to create a game like EU4 with modern attitudes as the starting point, but the discussion of the more problematic assumption underlying the game is a worthwhile one. Not only does it potentially lead to better and more thoroughly thought out games in the future, it contributes to the ongoing societal discussion on issues that while many of us prefer to ignore as being dead history do continue to shape the way the world functions on a practical level.

      I believe the author’s GTA analogy to be on the money. Only a very isolated minority don’t see the wholesale carnage a player can inflict during play as being beyond the pale, but who hasn’t gone on an in-game rampage because a random bystander yelled something at them as they drove like a lunatic? In the latest installment, which I’ve played the only scene in the whole game that bothered me was the torture scene. Assuming you haven’t been in a coma for the last 13 years you’re probably aware of how controversial a topic torture has been, and how far we are from reaching a cultural consensus on the morality of using torture as a tool of interrogation.

      Armed robbery? Drug dealing? Kidnapping? Random violence against strangers for imagined slights? Never bothered me ingame. Torture, i.e. the only criminal act presented in game that has a significant advocacy in real life? My reaction was visceral – it’s the only scene in any of the games I play through as fast as possible so that I don’t have to think about it again until next time I replay it.

      • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001412431157 Joseph DeMartino Jr.

        Have you played the game? there are actual events and National decisions that deal with ending slavery, with positive effects.

  • Darthtatersalad

    I have to disagree because if I remember correctly if you play as a native American you have the option to westernize your technology when the Europeans come so rather than it being impossible it is really more like a new layer of difficulty.

  • http://gravatar.com/dariusstewart dariusstewart

    April has some really good insights here. I don’t think she is wholly correct, and her conclusions are somewhat misguided, but the fact remains that EU IV fails to depict genocide. However, we have to remember that EU IV is based on an old French board game – it was not originally intended to be a world simulation, but rather a European one. So, in that light, many of the assumptions that the game makes are simply made from a European perspective in that time period.

    There certainly could be some improvements made in the realm of accurate depiction of non-European cultures and better handling of issues like slavery and genocide, but one team of developers cannot be expected to calculate, quantify, and program an entire world of cultures, religions, ideas, and historical events into one happy platform that doesn’t offend anyone.

    The bottom line is history happened the way it did and it was very offensive and unfair. Technological and economic disparity, genocide, and slavery did (and do) exist.

    If you want the (EU IV) world to be fair, make a Mod (I think there is one in progress).

  • anon eu4 player

    Very interesting and insightful (albeit unevenly). I found the title sufficiently provocative (to which point I will return) that I read your whole article. I was taken particularly by four points:

    1. “It’s an unsettled question. It’s a moral problem we have not yet agreed on an answer to.”. Indeed (which also applies generally to gaming and life in general).

    2. “Or, perhaps the assumptions are too available; perhaps the game relies on the assumption that moral question would never be asked.” I would have to dissent: there are constant debates raging on the game fora about precisely such issues. In fairness I don’t know how many players never go on the fora to find out; and perhaps you are hinting at an “educational” issue?

    3. “The moment you begin your colonization effort, the game takes a dark and troubling turn. It never really recovers from that”. That is not my experience. However, that may be an immersion issue. Perhaps for those that play the game as a self-aware “role-player” that is the result. And again there may be a hidden educational issue, including whether and in what way a game should educate. On that note (it seems to me, whether intended or otherwise) the game mechanics contingently seem to discourage genocide even by power-gamers. But, reverting to 1 and 2, I am unsure if that is even a relevant point.

    4. The title of the article I would assume is deliberately unfair. Otherwise I would rate it as not up to the insightful standard of the article or its author generally: simply because it easily might be construed as accusing the game, or those that play the game, of committing the naturalistic fallacy. I cannot really see the case as made out on either of those alternatives. But perhaps you were taking journalistic licence, very successfully?

  • Ben

    This has to be the funniest article I’ve ever read. +1 for holier then thou. Slavery has long existed and in fact those poor natives and Africans you are bawling over were some of the biggest culprits. The sun never set on the British Empire, stop acting like the power of Europe was some lucky roll of the dice. By the starting date of this game the inevitability of Europes power is locked into history, deal with it. If this was Civilization I could understand your whining but it isn’t.

    Let’s all join hands and be historical revisionists together. Because…ewwwww bad stuff happened back there which I don’t like.

  • Jose

    This is a terrible article and I’m a historian of people who were ruthlessly exploited by Europeans.

    • April Daniels

      In what ways do you find it lacking?

  • Charles

    I can live with the depiction of natives in “uncolonized” provinces, given the inclusion of nations like the Creek and Iroquois. Europe is so tightly packed not because of racial superiority, but because of condensed historical competition for resources and space. Europe was the destination for thousands of migrations over time and the result is a hotly-disputed, carefully-partitioned land of nations that HAVE to be dynamic and aggressive in resource exploitation to survive. The same cannot be said of vast, empty American plains or the more desolate regions elsewhere in the world. Sure, something like the Iroquoi Nation deserves a slot as a genuinely civilized group of human beings, but it wouldn’t be the same if you looked at every small nomadic clan. At that point the complete lack of resources and advancement would be justified for them.

    What DOES bother me is how they handle the aftermath of colonists-meet-natives. In the EU series, when your colony reaches full province status by reaching a certain population mark (this was 1,000 in EU3), the colony instantly absorbs all remaining native population into the culture of the colonists – even if they still outnumber them. Similarly, and I don’t know if this is the case in EU4, conquering a province of a native nation and then converting it to your religion automatically converted the culture as well, as though overnight the Huron tribe sprouted wigs and painted their flesh palor and started shouting Hail, Mary!

    There are mods in place that address the tech disparity between cultures, though again I can agree with slowed innovation until people are exposed to foreign ideas, be they European or otherwise. Necessity and adversity breed advancement faster than peace and prosperity. But I’d love it if Paradox would add a little more complexity to the colonization process.

    …The notion that all advisors and specialists you hire are European is new to me, though. Having played EU3, I can attest that advisors you commissioned internally always had names relevant to your culture, including the native american factions. It’s just that the global hiring market for advisors generally remained European unless you flooded it with your own, since those were the factions with the money and culture points built up to generate them beyond their own immediate use. You could save up culture as Japan and commission say, Tori Odanawa the genius statesman, but until then you could hire the less impressive Hans van Glyck once you had contact with Dutch (and thus access to their pool of excess advisors-for-hire).

    • Charles

      As for this comment:
      “(Yes, white Americans, you ARE the beneficiaries of genocide. Get used to it.)”

      Just so. But that does not make every white American guilty of it, nor obliged to feel personal guilt or pay modern reparation for it. That is a distinction too often lost in translation.

  • Hanson

    You are the reason why games should not be played by women, ever. Paradox are one of the few developers who actually produce original and exciting games which don’t pander to a majority which has no real interest in anything, other than making sure the games are as uncreative, moronically pc and terrible as possible. If you want some white genocide game then go fund it yourself with your other tumblr mates. MUH VAGINA.

    • Seymion

      You have got to be the biggest ass on this forum, games are not exclusive to men and I have had just as much fun playing with women as I’ve had with men. I don’t know where you reached the conclusion that just because she is female she is part of “a majority which has no real interest in anything, other than making sure the games are as uncreative, moronically pc and terrible as possible.” as I understood the article she actually enjoyed the game quite a lot she just diddn’t fin the interpretation of colonization fair which it isn’t, I disagree with how she think it should be fixed but you are the biggest tool if you want to deny a medium that you, (and I for that matter) love so much to half the world just because they form an opinion and have a vagina.

  • http://www.billhansy@comcast.net drlivingstonipresume

    I honestly think they model colonization quite well. The writers desire for some kind of political correctness in the game is ludicrous. This might come as a shock but, the European colonization of North America was not a fair fight and quite frankly the Europeans did not care and had little reason to care about the natives. The match was fixed long before EUIV kicks off and the game models that inequity quite well.

    I recommend you lose the rose tented glasses and modern ideas of political correctness if you have any intention of seriously partaking in a simulation of that era.

    • Seymion

      Charled voices my opinion fairly well with his “aftermath” problem of the colonization. But yeah it wasn’t a fair fight.

  • aye

    god, I hate women

    • anon

      4! Constructive variants but:
      women, I hate god
      I hate god women, [or is that goddesses?]
      god women hate I
      misogynists god hate I
      women god hate I
      Shrek.I But adore

  • The Canadian

    This is the worst article I’ve read all year. The writer is inaccurate in her understanding of history and colonialism, and is obviously extremely biased. She assumes that the Americas were covered in civilized nations, and that the native Americans were civilized. They were not. The article also assumes that the colonists colonizing the Americas would butcher and kill the natives. Sometimes they were killed, just as other Europeans were killed if they interfered with the territory of another nation. The writer of this article is obviously an ultra-liberal progressive that knows nothing of history.

    • Kaaz

      Im glad I read this article because the comments show me that most people still have a brain and don’t buy into this crap. This article is the same whiny revisionist history that is showing up all over the place, luckily most people who know anything about history reject it. The idea that the Indians were these wonderful peaceful people and then the big bad Europeans came over and only because they were so mean did they decide to colonize is such a childish farce it makes my head spin. In the end, would it have been better if a few million people lived in a stone age culture in North America rather than 350+ Million people who live a first-world quality of life? Absolutely not. Thank you The Canadian, and most of the other readers here, for not being bleeding heart fools like the author.

    • http://invariablyvagarious.wordpress.com kkvictoria

      I’m actually writing a paper on the topic of the systemic violence inherent in colonization efforts, and the recorded history regarding these efforts.

      I’m going to cite your article because it’s really rather nuanced with how you perceive Europa’s pitfalls.

      Also these comments defending colonialism reflects a complete misunderstanding of the intentionally poorly cultivated records regarding colonization efforts.

      Please, don’t try to make the argument that the Native Americans would never come up with European standards of ‘Culture’ like you know anything about that at all. Not only are you dealing in what-ifs, but you’re doing it poorly.

      Not only that, but you’re revealing your hands: You do not understand history beyond your armchair.

      -So, thanks for this brilliant article.

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  • Splashtop

    You know what? Just stop it. You would not exist had it not been for colonialism. Was it wrong? Yeah, but I guarantee you are of mixed ancestry, which had the ability to come together due to mass immigration to the Americas. Colonialism let you exist.

    Next, I hate how people say all this stuff about how the Native Americans were great people and blah blah blah. Some of them were, but they committed genocide on a larger scale than the Europeans up to that point. Look at the Aztecs, they totally f*cked over Central America.

    And wars were just as common between them as between Europeans. Think of it this way – Europeans were vicious, but didn’t show it. The Native Americans displayed it (except for some peaceful tribes, who I am not attacking in this post.) In my view, if they had been as advanced as the Europeans, they still would’ve been conquered. The European mindset at this time was not Social Darwinism – it was conquering for a profit. And if another European nation had been this weak, they would’ve been conquered too.

    Race was not a factor until the 1700s. At the start of colonization, it was about money, power, and religion. Genocide, extinction, etc were not because of inferior race at the time, they were due to those three reasons. Stop bullish*ting.

    • Kaaz

      Thank you, someone gets it.

  • Nek

    >This means that no matter what you do, by the time the Europeans show up, you’re facing an apocalyptic war for survival that you can’t hope to win.

    git gud

  • A2theK

    The colonizing mechanic as it stands in the game I purchased makes the native american factions effectively unplayable.

    Historical accuracy be damned, if they’re going to make a faction playable they should make them at least have a chance no matter how uphill the slog is.

    In future games I hope that indigenous factions have a different expansion mechanic than the European factions’ colonization process to reflect them subjugating and incorporating other communities into their own rather than the hamfisted colony mechanic that freezes them in time until their conquerors arrive to exterminate them for God, King and Country.

    As the writer noted it is a good and highly enjoyable game, but this is one aspect that disappoints.

  • https://www.facebook.com/john.head.796774 John Head

    Please, progressive liberals. Don’t ruin gaming for me.

    • Colin

      How about you not ruin gaming for the rest of us by being a hateful bigot.

      • colon

        how about YOU take your sjw bullshit back to tumblr where it fucking belongs?

  • Colin

    I found this to be a wonderful article. It made some very excellent points. The way non-Europeans are portrayed in the game is truly shameful, especially in the Americas. The fact that the gameplay encourages and glorifies genocide makes it all the more disgusting. It’s good to see that some people recognize this, if only some of the people in the comments section could be

    That said, it seems that the recent “Conquest of Paradise” mod is a step in the right direction at least.

    Either way this was an excellent article, my compliments to the author.

    • Seymion

      How is it glorified, the game has no goal, at no time does it force you or tell you to go colonize, it presents the option and let’s the player go nuts. Hell I wouldn’t even agree on the encouraging part, you can easily survive till the end of the game without ever colonizing just as the author chooses to do with her unification of germany.

    • Nate

      What points? I agree colonization was a bit too much of a stream roll, instead of gradual, but that’s not a point worth as many words.

  • The Great Discerner

    If anything I’m upset that you couldn’t do more atrocities, when you colonize an empty area, it becomes your culture, wouldn’t it be more historical if there were left over Indians in your province? therefore you could intermarry, convert, butcher them or be butchered by them like in history. seriously the colonial experience would be much more vibrant if you had to worry about the Indians in your midst going all tomahawk on Sunday and butchering people in their pews. Think about it, there could be decisions to move the Indian tribes into the mainland forcibly, you could make treaties with them, use them against your political enemies in wars and if civil wars were included that too. currently the culture system isn’t very intricate. For example modern day Mexicans are a mixture of Spanish and various central American tribes, The game doesn’t accurately model the intermarrying, if Mexico revolts late game, it gets the culture of its colonizer, but if it were accurate there would be a culture that is a Spanish-Aztec hybrid that forms during colonization. Also why can’t you do a Saint Bartholemy’s Day massacre if you have a Mixture of different religious sects? How come the plight of Jews from being confined to the ghettos of Europe, to our supreme overlords of finance isn’t portrayed? Also how come the game doesn’t represent the dislike that most Muslims have for Turks in this time period? If it were accurate The Turks would have inherently worse relations with fellow non-Turk Muslims. Also why doesn’t the game include the burning of witches and heretics? Also why doesn’t the game portray the fact that slave populations often create their own culture and violently revolt. Why doesn’t the game mirror represent the slave owning black Cajuns? Why doesn’t the game mirror the rampant alcoholism and laziness that is shown in American Indian populations over time? Clearly the capacity of this game for genocide is limited and should be expanded upon.

  • anon

    You’re very wrong. It’s fundamentally wrong to try to commit atrocities in an empty area, the game rightly won’t permit it. Your “tomahawk on Sunday” scenario is already well represented if players are stupid enough to colonize without troops, or commit acts of genocide. By design genocide is extremely costly in the short term and economically disastrous in the long term: because cultural harmony is guaranteed, ultimately all you achieve is reduction of your tax base. Witches are in the game already, haven’t you noticed? Now if you want to get into burning witches on a more personal level, sure passing Witchcraft Acts is disappointingly trivial and I completely understand your frustration, we’ve all been there. But you’re still wrong, because if you want to stop fiddling while witches burn, if you really want to get out there and do them one-by-one to get experience points and build up your unique with accordingly, you’re really getting off-topic because EU4 is simply not that kind of game, do what I do and get yourself a one-person-burner, I recommend the unexpected Malleus Malifecarum 3: Spanish Inquisitor, where to win you have to burn every last witch infesting the Spanish Inquisition. As for the black slave-owners, you’re missing the point: it’s too narrow an issue to bother. For example, if you implemented that then you’d also have to factor in that for most of the time frame the majority of the slaves were white slaves, because they formed most of the colonists, so you either factor in all of that or don’t bother. Your deeply distasteful economic ghetto-to-overlord simulation proposal is also utterly wrong because even it were a plausible idea, it still couldn’t get going until the brilliant Rothschild insider trading maneuver on the day of the battle of Waterloo which is right at the end of the game period, and likewise even the great David Ricardo wasn’t a player until right at the end. Besides, if Paradox were foolish enough to adopt your proposal on that point, they might decide to go all PC about it and conceal the fact by adding, say, a Wealth of Nations module, which would not only be anachronistic for the same reasons, but also deeply un-PC and horrifically subversive. Remember: Adam Smith and Tom Paine both published their communistic rubbish in 1776, they’d both been trained by that hotbed of genocidal proto-marxist radicalism the Excise to undermine respectable anti-genocidal PC smugglers vital to the economy like John Hancock, and so between them they destroyed the ancien regime, the Paradox world in which genocide is punished, by creating the modern genocidal world. So please stop trying to destroy it. In summary: you’re wrong.

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  • Richard

    I agree with how unsettling the genocide aspect can be.
    However, I feel it should be pointed out that the game rewards you for not slaughtering natives. Sure, it is quicker and makes colonization easier. However, natives that survive once a colony becomes firmly under your nation’s control contribute significantly to the wealth and manpower of a province.

    Conquest of Paradise loads the New World with additional native nations, and really helps alleviate the problems you describe.

  • https://plus.google.com/108806215984997321674 Willzyx Garrett

    History is ugly. If you play a historical simulation, then whine about how it offends your delicate sensibilities, the problem isn’t with the game. The problem is your ignorance of history. Read a book, then try again.

    • Bogmire

      Sadly this is a popular line of thought, “I dislike history so I’m going to interpret it in some ridiculous way that makes it suit my ideology better.” Its rampant on college campuses (I’m a history major and I have to slap my head sometimes reading my fellow student’s revisionist papers.) Luckily I think the problem exists with a minority of people, and most intelligent people see the stupidity of treating history in such a manor.

      Also, Grover Cleveland FTW.

  • http://twitter.com/zimmah zimmah (@zimmah)

    The game is about how it was at that time, slaves were considered ‘normal’ way into the 19th century or so.

    One of the mayor sources of income from the america’s were the sugar plantations in Brazil, of course the labor had to be done by someone, and they collected slaves to work the sugar plantations from Africa, they literally just raided African villages, killed anyone they couldn’t use (either not co-operative enough, too weak, too old, or just because they couldn’t fit in the ship anymore). They stacked them up in ships so much that they quite had to sleep on top of each other because there was no room. And over half of them died during the trip.

    All of this is of course a horribly dark side of European history, as well of the genocide against the American natives (and the elitist nature most ‘Americans’ have nowadays, as if they’re the absolute rulers of the world, let’s face it though, all white Americans are basically just Europeans).

    Still, even though it’s a very bad thing to do, these things happened and shaped history significantly, there is no reason to exclude facts from the game. Especially not facts that matter in such a big way.

    By the way, the whole point of that time was to gain either money or power (or both), by whatever means necessary (even the [roman catholic] church was just a way to gain more money and power, the protestant church was mostly opposed to the corruption of the catholic church, which is also portrayed quite well in the game. At that time, the people didn’t know much about other cultures at all (remember, traveling outside your city was rare, traveling outside your country was almost unheard of, they knew almost nothing of other culture, and most people have never seen a black person in their live. and even if they saw one, they would always see them as inferior humans or possible not even human at all).

    General ideas around that time (note: i do not approve of any of these ideas, but they were basically the STANDARD back then, and sadly, some people still have such ideas):
    – Any culture other then mine, is savage/uncivilized
    – Any other religion or idea that conflicts with my religion is either pagan or heresy (or both)
    – The people of my culture are superior in every way, other people are either not human, or lesser beings
    – Spreading our superior culture (even if by force) is only helping the poor uncivilized people
    – If you can force ‘trade’ in your favor by having better weapons and an army covering you, it’s perfectly fine to trade gold for trash. (Those uncivilized savages don’t have any use for gold anyway).

  • Kaaz

    Get over yourself.

  • Jonathan

    Some good points about the ethics of colonisation. From the game playing side too the weakness of the coverage of Native American tribes makes it hard to imagine reproducing some nice storytelling in the game – it would be great to play a scenario based on Kim Stanley-Robinson’s book “the years of rice and salt”. Europe decimated by a particularly virulent Black Death and the Arab states move in to fill the gap. Evolves to an uneasy global balance between Native American tribes + Muslim world versus China and the East. Probably unfair to ask for the game to capture that level of flexibility, but would be fun to upend expectations.

  • Joel Harrington

    Wow. There are a lot of you who haven’t come to terms with your culture’s colonial past. This article was well-written, reflective, and right on in a lot of areas. EU4 did gloss over the genocide of the Americas as well as underplay the political, cultural, and organizational capacity of Native Americans. Some of the people leaving comments here clearly cannot handle the reality of our history (btw, white american here). I too wish that a game designed to foster alternative histories provided more tools for colonized people to change their history. The tech penalty is brutal and the author is right – it is impossible to survive as one of the indigenous cultures of the Americas without mods or cheats codes.
    On the flip side though, with UE4 being moddable and with the console commands, you can actually create a scenario where the Iroquois fight back the British and French and spread their Empire from sea to shinning sea. I did it and it was awesome. The worst thing EU4 did was to not bother designed advisor portraits to reflect the non-European cultures. It broke my immersion every time I opened the advisor screen. The recent release of Conquest of Paradise fixed that, as well as many other things to give the colonized world a bit of an edge.

  • luckystriker

    This is a really old thread, and this is a really long post. But for what it’s worth, here is another perspective on what happened in the late 15th and early 16th century.

    gen•o•cide
    ˈjenəˌsīd/
    noun
    noun: genocide; plural noun: genocides
    1. The deliberate killing of a large group of people, esp. those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

    To claim that the European conquest of the New World was genocide shows a lack of understanding of events in those critical, early years of contact. Native American populations collapsed on contact with Europeans not because of superior tech, but simply to Old World diseases to which they had no resistance. This cataclysmic event was also entirely unforeseen and not understood by the Europeans themselves. Disease transmission also moved much faster than the conquistadors so that as they advanced, resistance weakened. I quote from wikipedia, “The American researcher HF Dobyns claimed that 95% of the total population of the Americas died in the first 130 years [upon contact with Europeans], and that 90% of the population of the Inca Empire died in epidemics. Cook and Borak of the University of California at Berkeley believe that the population in Mexico declined from 25.2 million in 1518 to 700 thousand people in 1623, less than 3% of the original population.”

    If EUIV is truly a “genocide simulator”, events would unfold as follows.
    – Europeans come into contact with Native American culture groups
    – Population Collapse event: All Native American cultural groups lose 1% population per year, with an equivalent reduction in monarch points and tax income, capping out at -95% reduction

    It is undeniable, however, that the European tech advantage was significant (primarily, horses and steel) and achieved some spectacular results. For example, at the “battle” of Cajamarca, generally accepted as the date when then Incan Empire fell, around 150 Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro captured the Incan emperor and slaughtered thousands of his lightly armed attendants. But notice how few Europeans there were. The Incan Empire could not have possibly fallen to the Spanish if it hadn’t already been significantly weakened by disease.

    As for the actual game itself, the Conquest of Paradise DLC fixes a lot of the gameplay issues from the New World perspective. It is now possible to create a robust nation for oneself, one large enough to withstand the early onslaught of conquistadors. Of course, that nation still has to “westernize” and then follow traditional European methods of nation building. If this improvement fails to soothe sensibilities, I suggest that he or she have a go at something purely fictional instead, like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

    Thank you for reading.

  • Viorel Valcu

    I’ve read a lot of negative reviews to the article, but I want to give credit to the author and contradict most of the arguments against what was stated.
    First of all indigenous people could have been given a better description. For entities to underdeveloped to be considered state-like formations it would have been normal to at least fill in some words to describe the tribes „known to have lived on this territory”.
    Second of all – the argument about historical accuracy and the „nonsense” of european-like states in America is not fully rational. Surely the Americas where underdeveloped, but Europa Universalis has the element of cultural/technological fastened development due to sharing borders with a more advanced nation and that could have happened to underdeveloped nations/tribes once they would have had an european nation on their borders. I might be a little inaccurate but there are historical proofs of nations in that time period which did not come under european colonial rule (remained „independent”) and managed to eliminate the development gap: China, Japan, Siam etc. In the same time even tribal organizations in North America started to consume European („modern”) goods, and even use modern weapons but due to lack of sufficient political organization – did not make a real challenge for the Europeans/US.
    And finally if the „leaders” (social tendencies) of the indigenous population did not feel the need for permanent technological advancement, since they lived in „harmony with nature”, an Europa Universalis Player which WANTS to advance makes it normal even for Historical accuracy, to create the premises for a nation to advance, like for example when Japan understood the need to retechnologize itself and invited FOREIGN (european) experts, or they contracted foreign companies to acquire technology. So I repeat – the fact that the Indigenous population had other understanding of life, does not mean that when they encountered a new civilization they wouldn’t refuse to change their lifestyle if they would understand the need to Reform – and that would have required only ONE leader with popular support. By the way, if not for Tsar Peter, Russia would have been developed as China, but in this game they ignore the massive effort done, and position it automatically as a „nation accessing the technologies” while the truth is they had a massive opposition for such a change, yet one leader did it.
    So April I support you :)

  • http://scifipdx.wordpress.com apogean

    This is why you get good enough that you can unify North America as the Iroquois and sail east to subjugate the heathen Europeans.

    • Aðalsteinn Arnason

      Exactly! As I said in my post, you are not forced to play as any one nation, or to even colonize at all! I once conquered a large part of Europe as China. This tirade against EU4 is childish and ridiculous! What do people expect now? To ban this game? Do people not know that there were THREE EU games before this? Why is it that only now people are getting pissed off? Society is becoming so weak footed. It’s a game FFS. Should we ban all games and movies that portray war? Some of us use games like this to vent negative emotions. Better in a virtual world than in real life I say.

      • anon

        Rings a bell with me. In EU4 I’ve trashed Western Europe with both the Turks and Muscovy. I’m currently embarked on trashing Western Europe with the Ming Dynasty in China (done it before, but only in EU3, I hear it’s harder now). And from this blog I’ve become curious about trashing Western Europe with native “new” world tribes (naturally I don’t use the word America because that’s Hispanicist): I’ve heard Cherokee is least difficult for tribal game novices, so I guess that can be my next game. You may have started a trend…

  • Michael Moran

    I find it amusing that you treat the colonization with such sensitivity but comment on how your filling mortars with peasants bones and don’t even question it. I think you’re european wars are equally as questionable.

    • https://www.facebook.com/adam.kickmaier Adam Kickmaier

      I’d argue that in the European wars everyone knew the score. It was horrifying, but it as a general trend everyone knew what was going on, they were between groups competing for the same resources and it wasn’t so thoroughly and depressingly one-sided. It was viable to rationalize the atrocities were done because of some ancient slight, or because if we didn’t do it to them they’d do it to us eventually. With colonization the only viable rationalization is that the indigenous population are subhuman, and they either don’t feel it the way we would, or it’s for their own good.

      Of course, there’s also the possibility that a certain amount of levity was employed to show that the author enjoyed the game up until the point of colonization. I suggestion I find probable because I didn’t notice the option to fill mortars with peasant bones.

  • Michael Moran

    Murder is murder, killing hundreds of thousands of European peasants and not blinking an eye but having a genuine moral objection to killing (you can actually co-operate with the natives too btw) about 1000 natives. Whether it was a fair fight or not doesn’t lessen the atrocity, yes the slaughter of native Americans was a horrifying genocide but so was the thirty years war which Austria takes part in. (50% of the German populace die in that war)

    • Seymion

      50% percent of the german popu… WHAT??!!
      Are you nuts, do you have any idea how many that actually is? I can go with 50% of able bodied men in the military age but what you’re wating there is kinda like going “whoops only females left and maybe some 4-5000 men”

      • Neigh

        You don’t know? Over a span of 30 years 8 million Germans died. 1618 to 1648 is, where I live, known as “The war on [someone else’s] land, with [someone else’s] men”. And you assume a lot about the casualties. Plundering was very common in the 30 years war, a lot of women and children were killed as well.

        I don’t have the exact figures for deaths by gender, but I assume something like 65% males, 35% females died in the war. For all intents and purposes, it was a pre-industrial “world war”, in the sense that anyone with any ability to throw soldiers into that war pretty much did..

  • Aðalsteinn Arnason

    It’s called.. a.. GAME. G. A. M. E. And if you played Assassin’s Creed 3, you play as a Native American killing Whites for the most part. Was that ever criticized? NO! I took no offense at having to play as someone of another race killing people of my own kind. In fact I play as NA tribes on EU 4 quite often. Your high horse has weak legs my friend. You don’t have to colonize if you don’t want to in this game. It does not force you to do anything that your overly sensitive conscience disagrees with. I think it’s pathetic that you take a game so seriously. You are worse than my Christian parents were growing up.

  • anon

    “You are worse than my Christian parents were growing up”

    Hey there. Cool it. Remember you yourself said “It’s called.. a.. GAME”.

    Peace, man… or is that war and peace, man 😉

  • Erick Torres

    I agree with the poster about all this, and you even marked some things which I had not given a thought to.

    I enjoy this game a lot, but something which I really dislike is the technologies groups, and that all of them are compared to Western, which is the default cost, and all the rest are penalized.

    To me this is a very ignorant mechanic specially when you talk about the Asian nations. Asian nations were on par to Europe for a long time. If Asians armies could had been next to Europe, they would have been able to wipe out Europe because they were more, their weapons were better, and their strategies were just as good as European strategies. Just look at all the different weapons Koreans invented. Just investigate how quickly the Japanese adapted their own muskets and how well they learned to use them. And the Chinese at one time had the best navy in the whole world, but it was disbanded because one Emperor decided it had no use. Culturally speaking Asia from the 13 to 16th century was superior to Europe.

    Muslims paved the way to the Enlightenment because while in Europe the Catholic church was burning the Classic Roman and Greek books, the Muslims translated them to Arab, Turkish, etc, and then those were translated back to modern Greek and other vulgar languages in order to gain that Classical knowledge.

    Seriously, if I could mod the game, I would remove those tech penalties which make no sense. However, as those who have played the game know: All technology cost a little bit more as time passes. You won’t always pay 600 ruler points, as time passes you will pay a little more. Those of the Western group would see their technology costs rise very little, while other groups would see it rise faster. So in the end those of the Western group would actually start to get an advantage but only near end game. There would be still be a reason to westernize: simply because their military units are better. And that would be more historically accurate since Europe didn’t really start to be more advanced than the Muslims or Asians until the 16th century.

    I have some other ideas to deal with the considered primitive groups (Americans and Sub-Sahara), but I think that would make my post twice as long…

  • that one guy

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about, I’ve dominated North America pre-conquest of paradise with the iroquois. Also, if you’ll notice, when natives aren’t ‘aggressive’ that literally means they are friendly and are willing to work with you. Truth be told, the game includes the perfect amount of First nations countries as those were the first nations civilizations that were actually organized groups of people that weren’t just tribes of 500 roaming the plains occasionally beating eachother up with sticks for honour and glory (this was told to me by a first nation so dont even start with me). I have no issues with the tech groups as it’s a completely accurate reperesentation of what happened, and I havent once experienced a game that was perfectly historical unless i got involved, the point of the game is to let history roll on with a couple of twists and to let the player break through a tough barrier of history, hell, try taking 3 provinces in central Europe at once and the whole world will want to kill you. The fact of the matter is, the game is being ‘told’ if you will, from a European standpoint at the time. You honestly think the European powers gave a shit about First Nations? No! they were all in it for the money and power, the first nations were a minor inconvenience and the game represents them as such. Sure the actual civilizations have diplomacy and all the other European jazz, you can strike deals with them if you believe they are worth your time, just like how the Europeans did. Ask them for you to fight you’re colonial war, in return you’ll give em guns (protectorate). Truth be told, this game doesnt go that far in the horrors of colonization, it’s a very basic, kill em with our tech or try to be nice about taking some land (see The Numbered Treaties). Also, trade CAN and will be transferred upstream. Why should the game not represent colonization for what it was? In fact I dont think it does justice to how easy it was for Europeans to completely dominate America, I mean c’mon, you can’t ‘send a gift’ of smallpox blankets to kill off whole tribes to vacate their land. But this is because they wanted it to be possible for the first nations to be playable, and they are, case and point, I rule over all of North America and have my own colonies in South America and Africa as the Iroquois, there is maybe only 1 province thats owned by the Europeans. The European powers feel threatened by me, hell, I could take on Spain AND Russia at the same time!

  • Guy IV

    It is just a game

  • Void Scroll

    I’m afraid not. This isn’t a war for survival.
    http://www.hostingpics.net/viewer.php?id=961528eu4mapSHA211509291.png

  • Nate

    What a complete lack of historical knowledge this pompous progressive has of history. There were monarchs in North America. There was “empty land”, a small portion of which was sold to the Dutch and was comprised of marshy woodlands, and became New York City. The natives did destroy their own land, they were not the perfect stewards of the land as progressives try to paint them as, there were large areas of clear cut forests before the Europeans ever arrived. Hell, the natives were bashing the absolute crap out of each other, stealing wives from other tribes, had slavery…
    If you’d have read anything on ancient trading you would know why the lines are where they are and why they don’t go “backwards”, they are based on prevailing winds that had been around for millennia. The land routes were the most used throughout history, you can see the Silk Road, Amber route, and the Spice route mapped out in this, and they had existed far before EU4’s timeline or CK2 for that matter.
    As for the inevitability of European dominance, how about a simple equation: Smallest continent(small states)+technological advances+competition for those scarce resources=a better opportunity for dominance than almost any other at EU4’s time. Look at most maps and you see sprawling empires and great centralization a this time except in Europe.
    PS: there’s no “inevitability” to it, except of course that Europeans would begin exploring the world due to the Ottoman’s blockade and monopolization of trans-Eurasia trade. Just get better and play as China or Japan and dominate while changing the tides of history.

  • https://www.facebook.com/SpartyMax John Shepard

    americans, french, british, japanse city states, greece etc etc, every nation today was built on the ruins of an old one get over your guilt given you didn’t do any of those things. Build a bridge and get over it.

  • http://twitter.com/SephVe selphyve (@SephVe)

    Great article. Exactly my opinion of the game when playing it. The way that native cultures were represented was laughably racist and euro-centric.

    Look at all the butt hurt white, male neckbeards crying in the comment section. “How dare you ruin my perfect white supremacist fantasy game!”. “But.. but Africa had slaves too..”. Completely missing the point, probably intentionally, like good racists. Its not about having genocide or slavery or ruthless expansionism. Its about White Washing it all.

  • Foxd1e

    Racist and [b]euro-centric[/b] hmm I wonder why that is, oh yeah because the dev’s are from Sweden. And racism is in the eye of the beholder and based on stereotypes that are offensive. We each have a culture, most only have the good fortune to know our own culture well, and one or two others if we are lucky. The point being the things we are taught and the images we are shown about other cultures could be racist, but that is impossible for us to know unless we question someone of that culture every time we make a remark about that culture. What makes claims of racism even more confusing is other cultures throwing in their 2 cents about what constitutes as racist to the offended. It’s also likely the offender did not mean to be racist, but instead was trying to represent the culture in that era as best they knew. We are too quick to assume we know everyone else’s mind.

  • https://www.facebook.com/BananastheFunkmonkey Chris Johnson

    Never heard of this website before, and judging by the fact that this godawful whinepiece is on the ‘Best of 2013′ list i would say i wont find anything of any value at all on this entire site.

  • Squirrelloid

    While the author’s thesis is relevant, her grasp of history is poor.

    But the game does royally fail in the pre-1507ish (approximately) starts. As previous commenters have noted, smallpox wiped out the native peoples before Europeans ever got to them. So stronger more compactly settled Americas? Definitely historical. But you should have a population collapse as soon as an explorer makes contact. Of course, we don’t even know what many of these cultures were – especially in North America. The area that would become the United States was so sparsely settled that the smallpox epidemic cleared large areas of land and (likely) destroyed the Mississippian mound builder civilization. (The Muskogee might be their descendants). There really was plenty of land for the natives to cede to the British settlers, at least at first, and a careful examination of history would show that conflicts with native peoples increased as land demands by the Europeans increased, but early there was frequently cooperation and trade. (This would be a recurring theme in US westward expansion).

    Anyway, you would have to *imagine* the population and cultural affinities of North America before this point, because they didn’t leave written records, and smallpox ensured we never got to see the ‘undisturbed’ state of everything north of the Aztecs. (And really not even anything south of there, but while those populations collapsed it wasn’t bad enough to collapse the states before Europeans caused it instead). So the fact that North America in particular is egregiously poorly represented is because of a lack of data. But we know some of it is definitely wrong. Even after the US won its War of Independence, native groups were warring and land was changing hands. That the game takes the ‘big name’ native groups and puts them in the places white people historically encountered them is unfortunate.

    It is kind of disappointing that the Mezoamerican and South American native peoples which don’t have big name recognition (Inca, Maya, Aztec) are completely absent. The north coast of South America had centralized governments ruled by chieftains who were effectively monarchs, and were well supplied with gold and silver. But because they don’t have the name recognition of, say, the Incas, they don’t rate at all, even though they were more significant political groups than any of the North American tribal federations. Given the game’s assumptions about what qualifies as ‘uncolonized’, the only parts of South America that should be available for non-conquest colonization are the areas of modern Argentina and Chile (which of course had tribal groups, but no real political centralization or organization).

    Which brings us to the second major historical shortcoming of the game. The colonial process of the game is closely modeled on the North American, especially British, experience. That the land was effectively open makes sense in that context, there was space, and the natives weren’t enslaved – there was too much open land for them to just move away and not enough political centralization to conquer a whole people in the same way the rigid hierarchical societies of Central and South America were conquered. (Again, smallpox, but even before that North America had low population densities). This is a really terrible model of Central and South American colonization.

    (I can’t comment intelligently on African colonization, so I won’t, but they probably got that wrong too).

    The Spanish/Portugese conquest and colonization of the Americas involved finding populous hierarchical societies, capturing their ruler, and extorting the society for all its wealth for his return. Then, when they couldn’t meet the ridiculous demands of the conquistadors, the population was forced, wholesale, into slavery (pretty much) to work gold and silver mines and plantations. African slavery in the Americas was both subsequent to native slavery, and an attempt to create a similar economic and political system with imported labor to make up for local shortages. (African slavery in the Americas is primarily a Caribbean and North American phenomena – the places where population densities were too low for hierarchical societies, and/or where smallpox eradicated the natives almost entirely – there are pretty much no surviving descendants of Caribbean natives because of smallpox).

    So while earlier commenters are correct insofar as the roots of African slavery go back to the millennia old slave trade in Africa itself, the demand for African slaves and the economic incentives to ship them half a world away to work plantations has its roots in Spanish/Portugese subjugation of the more populous native peoples in the south.

    As an amusing anecdote on how strong this tendency was among Spanish colonies, the Rio de la Plata estuary (whence modern day Buenos Aires) was initially colonized fairly early because, unlike northern South America, it’s climate was familiar to the colonists. But there was no populous hierarchical native group to dominate and press into slave labor. (The local natives were tribal, had plenty of space to move away from the colonists, and no central political authority or traditions which made it easy to capture the entire society). The colony was abandoned as not viable, because the colonists didn’t want to work the fields themselves. It’s of course an important city today, and was successfully colonized later, but the initial attempt failed because of how the Spanish expected colonization to go.

    Anyway, the point here is that the game doesn’t model this at all. Not only has it removed many of these populous natives from the map entirely, but there is no slave society ruled over by colonial overlords with the accompanying economic and political consequences. Even for those few with enough name recognition to show up as political entities, you take their territory and they become regular citizens of the empire. While African slavery is certainly horrible, and native peoples in North America saw their share of horrors, the true whitewashing in the game is the way it glosses over the Central and South American colonial ‘experience’ and pretends it was as (relatively) benign as the North American experience. (Anything approaching genocide of the natives of North America doesn’t really start until the end of the game’s eras – they were active and relevant political entities until shortly after the American Revolution).

    ———————-

    Regarding slavery specifically, I think where the game mechanics itself most disturbed me were in two places. First, the temptation to develop slave territories. Demand for slaves seems to always outstrip supply, which means that slaves generally bring a good price. It’s really tempting to ignore that the tradeable ‘good’ is “slaves”, slap a trading company down, and develop the production bonus. This is the same way the owners of these companies probably looked at it, except instead of a simulation on a computer, on the other end of their ledgers were real people. That kind of banal evil is really seductive.

    Second, the abolish slavery act comes with a significant penalty to your economy even beyond elimination of those sadly lucrative slave ‘goods’. I wonder how many people have decided not to abolish slavery because they didn’t want to take the hit to their economy.

    These aren’t places where the game gets it wrong, these are places where the game gets it terribly right, and gives the player incentives to make the ‘evil’ decision.

    (I also find the implications of cultural conversion kind of horrifying too. That sounds a lot like ‘kill all their menfolk and take their women as wives for ourselves’).

    ——————

    Finally, trade routes. The places where the trade routes are placed are obviously are the right places, but the one directional nature of the trade flow is both a bad representation of history (goods have to flow both ways), and a terrible way to allow for the development of alternate histories. They’re even downright wrong for at least a portion of the game time in some places. (Trade flowed around the Indian ocean, it didn’t flow into Zanzibar and then head south around the Cape until the Europeans came in. Zanzibar should flow up into the Gulf of Aden node until at least ~1600, even if we’re trying to model history).

    Even if we accept this ridiculous notion of wealth only flowing one way (which only happens when you have slavery or its near equivalent and a colony designed to expropriate wealth and send it to the homeland – makes no sense for non-colony nations), the direction should be able to change depending on how the game plays out. I played a very successful game as Orissa, forming Hindustan, where I managed to maintain military parity with Europe (even pre-westernization), ejected all attempts at colonial conquest of India and SE Asia, kicked the Europeans out of Indonesia, and conquered a path to Europe through the Ottoman empire. I was the dominant economic power in the world, so it was pretty ridiculous that the lucrative trade nodes for me to milk ended up being Zanzibar and Alexandria. (At least Indonesia flowed into the Bay of Bengal, which was also lucrative, and my home node so I didn’t need to leave a merchant there). Trade should have flowed towards me, not away.

    The game should decide the direction of trade between two nodes by the relative trade power and value. (It already propogates trade power along nodes, so sufficiently strong development could pull across a weak node from another developed one). Adapting AI behavior to handle this and try to pull trade to themselves would also solve a ridiculous aspect of the game – the AI seriously underinvests in infrastructure, and never builds trade good companies. (It’s really frustrating to play in Europe and conquer territory only to have to develop it all yourself, and it contributes to ridiculous steamrolls where the only thing slowing you down is that everyone joined a coalition against you – seriously crimps victory gains when you have to negotiate with everyone at once – because your economy and manpower are orders of magnitude beyond what the AI has). And fixing this would also let an alternate history like my ‘Hindustan invades Europe’ pull global trade towards it.

    (FWIW, I’ve successfully played an Inca game which involved an Incan invasion of India, so native starts are totally doable. Although the Inca have perhaps the most mindnumbingly boring game before Europeans arrive).

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  • http://Jebforce Jeb J. Jebson

    QQ for injuns more.

  • https://www.facebook.com/vienna.pierre.9 Vienna Pierre

    I agree, otherwise, this is nothing new for today’s video games. The ease with which they promote and turn genocide, mass murder, wars…in something good, successful, prosperous,…is shocked.Society obsessed with worshiping all the wrong things.

  • http://www.qwerty.uiop qwertyuiop

    I have an erection and I’m not a guy

  • Bando Bast

    I’ve been saved by UN voting, as a Mongolian leader, from defeat by Aztec spaceship launching. That was Civilization, where differences between cultures is cosmetic or irrelevant. Even though, there were the barbarians to be dealt exclusively with violence.

    Europa Universalis is Latin for “Europe for the world!” Latin, a prestige pan-European language alluding to an empire of antiquity that projected European power all over. The lettering in the title is the capital script Romans used in monuments celebrating their conquests. All this reads as WARNING: EUROPECENTRISM!

    “Let’s tweak Civilization so that European cultures have the upper hand, for that is what history shows us” is a reasonable assumption of developers’ goal. If it’s so, they succeeded: the game we got is an Europe leaning Civilization.

  • greatwyrmgold

    I’d like to make a couple notes.

    Of course the peoples of the Americas, subsaharan Africa, and Australia are going to always end up subjugated under the European boot. In the mid-1400’s (the earliest that the game starts), these groups of people had little metal, few organized nations, and all sorts of other handicaps compared to the organized, advanced Europeans. Simulating this is in no way implying that the Europeans were inherently superior (especially since the only reason they managed to pull ahead of, say, the Mesoamericans was their luck in having access to two continents of the best domestic species Earth has to offer plus similar climates and reasonable proximity to the earliest centers of agriculture, plus fertile soils, letting them start some of the most naturally prosperous farms in the world before most Americans even heard of maize); it’s just admitting that the nations which happened to be lucky enough to be located in Europe were better at conquest than the tribes found elsewhere.

    Also, it’s not impossible to be a Native American in EUIV who can challenge the Europeans. It just requires a player’s touch and a lot of dedication (although starting off next to a few other tribes you can vassalize/conquer before you hit Admin Tech 4 is extremely helpful). Heck, it doesn’t even require that much skill; I speak from experience. (It did require that dedication, though. Westernization lead to SO many revolts…)
    I’ve only tried it with the Aztec, but I imagine that even OPM American tribes and various African natives could pull it off just as well. The fact that the AI never manages it speaks as much of the AI as it does of the game.

  • K.V

    EU4 is a historic strategy game (of European perspective, as the title hints) and history is what it is: full of wars, genocide, slavery, destruction of civilizations and subjugation of whole continents. It’s a really weird and annoying tendency to expect games or any other medium to question the history or prettify it as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Europeans of that time-frame didn’t care much about the natives, who were much less advanced at the time of first encounters, and genocide is a rather good word for what often followed. This is what really happened in history and this is what is also simulated in the game. If you’re not interested of the European perspective of the history, there are mods to offer alternatives, but it’s rather impossible for the developer to deliver a single game from all the possible perspectives to the history while not giving in on the quality.

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  • http://www.f169bbs.com/bbs James H Marks

    ‘I knew going in that I’d playing a game about a topic that, in real life, is horrifying to my (white, privileged) progressive sensibilities. I thought I was prepared for it.’

    What a complete moron you are

  • Docrailgun

    Reading the article I was thinking the apologists wouldn’t waste time defending genocide. I wasn’t disappointed.

  • conqueror

    ok let’s start …
    1. By 1444 (when this game starts) even in Europe the concepts of nation or country were relativeley new. Before that there were many privatly owned kingdoms all over Europe. So wanting for native american “nation” in game would be foolish.
    2. Most people living in Americas (as they called the continents) and sub-saharan Africa lived like nomadic tribes in jungles and steppes. There were very few of them in wast areas. They did not have cities, roads etc. They did not “own” legaly speaking any land for themselves. They were just people … living where they saw it fitting.
    3. There were exceptions (which are represented in game by giving them “eurpoean style country”), like “noble” Aztecs who would actualy hunt the before mentioned people and kill them in masses on top of their altars.
    4. Aztec (who were among most advanced of them) lived in cities, and even build pyramids, and had, what was a rarity in these areas, hieroglyph style writing. They did not know some inventions Europeans had like … paper, metal, wheel (yes they did not have that), gunpowder, profesional army (which was new thing even in Europe by the time), ocean-going ships…and many more (too much to list everything). In fact they were as advanced as … Ancient Egyptians some 5000 years ago. So again, why would you want for them in game to be as technologicaly capable as European nations is beyond me. It would be preposterous.
    5. What the world was like in these times is not known to us. We only know from historic accounts (European accounts for that matter). To recreate a map of America in 1400’s and list all tribes is impossible. No such historical map exist. In fact Europeans did not know Americas exist at all until discovered … and even then they taught it’s India and not a new continent. So it’s normal that only those catalogued by explorers and conquerors of the time are represented in game.
    6. and finaly … the point of playing as one of these nations … it’s as you would expect. they lived in a large area where they hunted and farmed. Ocasionaly fighting with other nerby tribes in ethernal strugle. They did not know what was beyond “their forest” and never went there. Ofc it’s not like playing Holy Roman Empire with their web of diplomacy and holy wars! I mean c’mon !!

  • Joe Lamdin

    Classic US view of the colonisation of the americas , as other people have already stated mostly they were natives with extremely low populations finding a small area and starting up small towns would not affect the natives and yes in cases the Europeans would defend and fight against the natives for lands really they had no right to but they did not search for and find native Americans and kill them all it was not genocide. I’m not denying aggression between the colonists and the natives, but it was a rare case when they would ever meet. Which brings me on to my next point, you obviously you think you are being fair by claiming the white Americans are the beneficiarys of genocide, well actually the Americans were the ones who committed the genocide , I don’t know if its ignorance, arrogance or you just weren’t taught it in school but the acts committed by the USA in the 1800s against native Americans are acts only surpassed in evil by Hitler’s and Stalin’s. Additionally as the Americans systemically wiped out the natives Great Britain ( a European nation in which Americans love to blame for everything bad ever) supported a federation of natives to fight against American genocide, but sadly the US managed to weaken them too much before it was possible (see war of 1812). So please fucking admit guilt you American uneducated imbecile and stop shifting balme to Europe and please don’t post about history when you clearly know nothing about it.

    • Brent

      I’m no apologist for the genocide committed by previous generations of Americans–and I agree that it is fair to call it genocide–but for some supercilious British twit to go around parading moral superiority in their relations vis-a-vis non-European cultures in the 19th century… it’s just too much. Do you really think the UK cared at all about the well-being of the poor oppressed Native Americans? No, they sought to stymie the growth of the United States, which they believed would threaten Canada. They had no qualms about killing natives who were allied with France during the French and Indian War theater of the Seven Years War. They had no qualms about raping, murdering, and colonizing Ireland, which incidentally set the precedent for New World colonization. When the Irish Famine hit, the British government proceeded by refusing to interrupt shipments of food out of the country, exacerbating the famine and allowing a million to die as punishment. British elites of the time blamed the famine on the bad national character of the Irish, namely their laziness and drunkenness. They had no qualms about addicting untold numbers of Chinese to opium and forcing the Chinese government to accept their right to sell their highly addictive drugs there. They had no qualms about subjugating cultures thousands of years older than them in India or massacring Indians who opposed their rule. Or mangling the partition of the country so badly that millions had to escape to the other side of the border for safety. They had no qualms about inventing the horrors of concentration camps during the Boer War.

      So, while you’re up there on your high English horse sneering down at lowly Americans who “were surpassed in evil only by Hitler and Stalin”, enjoy the view of a country that subjugated 25% of the world’s population, erased cultures on each of the continents, addicted millions to drugs for the profit of their merchants, and killed millions others. American history may be filled with evil against the native population of North America (and elsewhere), but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

      • Joe Lamdin

        Even though you may have overstated parts widely I agree with you; in my initial post I was trying to play Devil’s Advocate without ceding anything from Europe as I thought the article had achieved enough bashing (even if it was mostly senseless because this woman clearly knows nothing of history).But yes what the British have done in their history (even though a lot of it is great) is mostly overshawdoed by dark & evil deeds.Mainly I like to balme the upperclassmen of he country even today they are scummy little pathetic power grabbers. But mainly my point was that Americans in general seem to have this idea that they are exempt from awful things and only other countries do evil and that every decision America has ever made has been the correct one in the ‘eyes of god’. Also they seem to see their civil rights as something to be proud of, even though they didn’t ban slavery until 1863 which resulted in a civil war, whereas it was against common law in England since 1150 and the trading of slaves was banned in the empire 1819 and being that Great Britain pre World War 2 was awful for almost any rights (the exception being magna carta) that’s pretty awful for America. I dont want to seem as if I’m on my high horse because that’s exact thing I’m trying to argue against.
        (Excuse me if some dates are off they came from the top of my head)

  • conqueror

    You mind your tongue.

    First – I am European and quite anti-american and proud of it. So, if you would actually know how to read, you would understand that my post was not about genocide of native Americans. That was not the main topic at all. It was about how a game depicts those people and why I think that is actually correct. You see it would be silly if Apache tribe would sail to Europe and conquer France … at least to me. There are historical reasons why this was not so and the game depicts them.

    Second to answer your post … never have i stated that what Americans did was not genocide. And yes your accounts are true – but you speak of time after 1800 – when America was already founded as a country. Up until then it was regarded to belong to various colonization countries (Great Britain, France, Spain … whatever the case may be). When Hernando Cortes conquered the Aztecs he claimed the land for Spain. It was under Spanish crown. So it’s fair to say that those who killed Aztecs were not Mexicans but rather Spanish – wouldn’t you agree?

    Now thirdly and finally – genocide and enslavement of natives were socially completely acceptable at the time by most Europeans. Just as it was completely normal for those times to burn the “witches” and “heretics” at the stake. That does not mean I approve of it, but those people did. Hell if you go way back in history, to the times of Julius Caesar, he exterminated entire tribes and societies in his conquest of Gaul, and he wrote a book about it and was proud of it. He was a hero.

  • https://www.facebook.com/wmcguire18 Will McGuire

    Interestingly enough the entire first DLC seems to have gone towards rectifying some of these problems adding dozens of playable Native nations, unique mechanics, and an easier path to technological advancement for them. They’re almost fun to play as now.

  • http://roguealchemyblog.wordpress.com Ivy O’Brien

    Hey, y’all. According to the book “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by history professor James W Loewen, the generally accepted reason that the Americas were so easy to conquer was because Europeans refused to bathe, and were teeming with disease. We were literally biological warfare, without even knowing it. It has nothing to do with other countries being “more advanced” than we were. After all, it took Gatling guns to take down the Zulus — in the mid-1800s. The use of gunpowder and iron techs, especially armour (not guns), was a significant advantage for Europe, but that in no way suggests that colonialism was inevitable. After all, it’s hard to fight an invading force when your community is infested with small pox, which is estimated to have killed up to 90% of certain Indigenous settlements.

    And what’s this about slow gathering rates? As if to imply that low population were some kind of inevitability of non-Christian living? As if to imply the Indigenous Americans were and are lazy and/or incompetent? The Salish peoples of the west coast were known to through gigantic potlatches, great gorging feasts where wealthy leaders would compete for how much they could give away. Hell, they even burned shit down to show how wealthy they were! There were thousands of thriving nations on Turtle Island before they were wrecked by plagues.

    greatwyrmgold makes an interesting case for the natural superiority of the European races, but it’s flat-out wrong. It is so flat-out wrong that it’s white supremacy, y’all.

    • Nate

      It’s not about bathing or lack of, it has to do with existing on a continent that has had massive amounts of diseases brought from West to East and mostly East to West. Over the centuries and millennia mass amounts of disease led to immunity, of which the North Americans, being isolated, did not have. Of course being isolated they also did not benefit from the knowledge transfers that occurred throughout North Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.

  • http://vk.comdemdim Dima DIma

    Some people don’t know there to stop with their desire to make everything equal and politically correct. Don’t touch this game at least! World has never been equal and never would.
    EU historically represents the powers. However, it does only till the point there you start playing, after choosing the starting point in history. Then it is up to you what will change. This is all about challenge – some people, who have experienced the game mechanics and know how to handle them might play for less civilized nations of the time and bring them glory. This lack of balance is that the world has, no one is the same, and in that is our equality.
    The title Europa Universalis roots back to the game which covered Europe only with few European nations to choose from. And this game is a video game variant of a board game of the same title. So it has nothing to do with Europe centrism – it is what actually happened in history. Please, keep your tolerant nature away from the best grand strategy game up to date.

  • Eugene_Debs

    Thank you, April Daniels! It does me good to read an article like this, as a fellow passionate but critical enjoyer of the Paradox franchise. The textual assumptions of the Europa Universalis and Victoria series in particular have bothered me for a long time, for both ethical and gameplay reasons.

    Take the Westernization mechanic, as another example. As much as it is relevant to some historical cases, more often it seems to make things WAY LESS historical! Several conflicts end up being HORRIBLY modeled, because Western troops and tactics are assumed to be “obviously” superior. I’ve seen Castille invading Japan in the 17th century and steamrolling what should be, at that time, comparable or superior armies. I consistently see Portugal gobbling huge chunks of Morocco, or even annexing the entire country, by the 16th century with no apparent difficulty. In one game in which I formed and “Westernized” Malaya, practically the entire Indian subcontinent had been united under Malwa but couldn’t do shit against English invaders until I intervened. Forget the Anglo-Maratha Wars of the Anglo-Mysore Wars! In the Paradox equation, Western > Indian always! And no, in real history, Marathas and Mysoreans did not defeat the British by fielding Napoleonic Squares.

    Even the New World example, which all of these trolls seem to have very strong opinions about, is rife with ahistorical revisionist nonsense. Not in the entire period covered by the game did any European power truly integrate central North American regions like Ohio. Believe it or not, there were some really powerful indigenous polities European colonists did not want to fuck with. And there were times when the Europeans were actually driven out of territories by well-organized indigenous military action. Take the Pueblo Revolt that expelled the Spanish from Nueva Mexico after decades of settlement. Or pan-tribal actions like Tecumseh’s War. More importantly, until well into the 19th century white colonizers COULD NOT operate in the continent without negotiation and cooperation with organized indigenous polities. The Europeans didn’t simply “settle” areas and the indigenous peoples didn’t simply “submit or resist.”

    Part of what makes colonialism and genocide so horrifying is that it ISN’T “easy” or “inevitable.” Colonizers had to put in huge amounts of logistical effort, employ extremely diverse strategies, and end up failing their goals lots of times before they could “accomplish” it. Heck, even in the late 19th century, the U.S. had to basically wage total war against the Plains tribes in order to displace them. The discourse of “inevitability” was a justification, not a description of reality. But for some reason, a lot of us still believe it.

    And, ugh, the slaves as a trade good thing. -_- It’s ridiculous. I could see allowing West African states a decision to start exporting slaves or something, or even allowing coastal colonizer nations to demand slaves. But starting with slaves as a global commodity in 1444? Give me a break.

  • http://gravatar.com/terriblegamers Scott

    I understand and appreciate your perspective, but I am a bit confused about what you’re trying to achieve with your critique.

    The game is in the grand strategy/simulation genre. This genre of gaming has a history hundreds of years long (originating with “historical” miniatures). In any event, these games, by their nature, always portray pretty terrible things in an abstract way. For example the first modern war game, Avolon Hill’s famous Gettysburg, used little pieces of cardboard to allow people to re-fight a battle that in three days saw more American casualties than the entire Vietnam war.

    Similarly the Second World War is a favorite setting for these games, where players move their abstracted pixels around, strategically bomb cities, and generally play at a war that killed 50 million people.

    With this in mind, I really do not think that it is fair to pick on Paradox for Europa Universalis IV. The logic of your critique seems to be that any game that abstractly represents the death, destruction, and human catastrophe of history should be taboo. Yet you were fine with the parts of EUIV where you march armies across Europe raping and murdering as you go? In case you didn’t notice, the game–one that’s trying to “accurately” portray European geo-politics from 1444 to 1820–also asks you to deal with the religious strife of the reformation where you fight wars of God and force people to convert at the point of the sword.

    In addition you have to put down peasant revolts, nationalists, religious rebels and sometimes spend diplomacy to “change the culture” of provinces. When you saw this, what did you think changing the culture represented? Italians going into the Balkans and asking Serbians nicely to adopt a new language and set of traditions? Hardly. That’s European genocide against Europeans.

    But none of this bothers you? It’s the portrayal of Native Americans that somehow makes the game reprehensible to you?

    And you are not exactly being fair with your critique either. The more classically “organized” Native Americans are given their own European style nation (itself a horribly historically inaccurate abstraction). And while you can attack the natives to make colonialization faster, you are actually rewarded with better more productive colonies if you assimilate the Native population rather than murder them.

    Other critiques aren’t worth mentioning–like having slaves as a commodity–as this is an abstraction primarily born of limitations of the game engine. I mean, come on, when the game launched I think there were 7 total commodities represented globally.

    In the end, I take this for what it is… A game for history grognards; however, if you want to object because you find the subject matter taboo, that’s fine. Just at leave have courage of your convictions. Stop picking on EUIV. What you really have a problem with abstracted violence. You have a problem with war gaming and grand strategy period, not EUIV.

  • Nate

    Just dumb comments all the way through. The world, no matter where at this time was full of war and quarrels. To the person saying “I saw Spain steamroll Japan!” Well I saw Brittany steamroll France. This is open ended, and it is extremely difficult to model and match people’s historical preferences for the entire world! Was Japan closed? Yes. Well what if I as the Netherlands want to change that, and put in considerable energy than what the Netherlands ever did historically in seizing Japan?

    The slave trade in Africa and Arabia is old, slave trading is older than the first written words. Arabs traded slaves, and blacks sold slaves long, long before 1444. Europe was a very late comer to this intercontinental slave game (of course there was plenty of it in Europe before 1444 as well).

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  • emrey

    Thanks for this, it stopped me buying the game. I’m a huge Civ fan but I had worries you wouldn’t be able to truly manipulate history with this and allow the subjugated to have a chance at winning, so I went googling for an article like this one to lay it out for me. One look at that interface of the Native American icon and their level of “aggressiveness” and I know this is not for me. How horrific.

  • Disbethetruth

    Oh boy, if you think this is bad then you should read about the Muslim conquests and the history of the Aztecs.

    Nothing but: Blood, slaves, and slaughter. And you think white people are bad? LMFAO!

    All Chinese history is about ruthless tyrants and warlords massacring civilians.

  • Someone who is not an idiot.

    OH MY GOD HISTORY WAS RACIST??!?!?!??!?! Of course the non-Europeans are at a disadvantage, because this game is about a realistic depiction of a time period where (wait for it) Europe had an advantage.

    “trade is only for extracting wealth from places that aren’t Europe. I haven’t played much with trying to colonize Africa. Not after I saw one of the provinces had as its trade good “slaves” with a picture of a big iron ball and chain.”

    To address that first thing about trade: What do you think the Europeans actually used it for? THE SAME THING?

    Now as for the slaves bit: What did you expect, them to be all running about a party happy and jolly with similes as they ate lots of food? Once again this game is about a REALISTIC DEPICTION OF HISTORY, not a happy version where nothing bad happens and everyone is friends. If you want that go back to a middle school history class. Also, its not just Europe who did bad stuff in history EVERYONE DID HORRIBLE THINGS. Europe just happened to get the best technology and got lucky. Also someone addressed the name of the game and stated that this game was a Euro-Centric version of Civ. To that person: Have you ever played either games for more then two seconds? Because if you had you would realize they are nothing alike and completely different in focus. Civilization focuses on history a bit but is mostly about growing a nation from the start of history to the end without going too in depth, and the big focus is on technology. EUIV is a game about shaping history, but a realistic version of history. Not a happy sunshine rainbows bollocks version of history. The fact that you idiots can’t seem to accept the fact that something is based on reality because “Its not fair to other people” is hilariously fucking stupid. Also you mention in the article some things related to the Native Americans and the way their nations are set up. Well of course they will have a hard time against Europe, that’s realistic and this game is realistic.

    To conclude: History was full of bad things, and this game is meant to be a realistic depiction of history, all of it, not just the happy stuff.

    • Someone who is not an idiot.

      I must make a note here that the line : “To address that first thing about trade: What do you think the Europeans actually used it for? THE SAME THING?” is actually meant to be: “To address that first thing about trade: What do you think the Europeans actually used it for? THE SAME THING!”

      • Someone who is not an idiot.

        I’d now like to respond to the person who mentioned what Europa Universalis means, and how it seems like a Euro-Centric civ game. He mentions that it means something along the lines of “Europe to the world”. This game is set in the age of colonization, where EUROPE started COLONIZING THE WORLD. So, the title fits perfectly with the game. Also I’d like to once more bring up the fact that Civ and EUIV are VERY VERY VERY different games, and by no means should be even remotely compared to each other on a critical level.

  • Kenneth

    As an avid fan of Europa Universalis IV, I feel the need to reiterate a few points.

    Firstly, this game is about depicting the world as it is (at least, from 1444-1821). Therefore, Western Europeans have a technological advantage. However, that doesn’t mean it is impossible for other technology groups to catch up. In fact, it is rather manageable for a North American tribe to successfully defend their lands from a European invasion. Of course, as a previous comment suggested, dedication.

    Secondly, the role of Native Americans in the game has been vastly increased since the Conquest of Paradise DLC. DLCs have added many new mechanics and options for all New World nations, notably adding more nations. Missions, events and decisions for Native Americans are less diverse than that of Old World nations, simply because the missions are, partly generic and partly designed to guide the nation towards its historical route. Because we know significantly less intricate details about the history of the New World nations, it is only obvious that, for New World nations there are less events, missions and decisions based on historical events.

    Thirdly, in response to the “horrific” reactions from the “huge Civ fan” regarding the genocide of Native Americans, perhaps wider reading or, even actually playing the game, will help one realise that most games result in a manipulation of history. That is the purpose of the game; not to force players into the historical course of a nation, but to let them chose the path they want, whether they want to colonise Australia as the Mali Empire, restore the glory of the Byzantine Empire or destroy the Ming Empire as the Incas, it is all possible.

    Finally, as I stated before EU4 is about depicting history as it was, then letting the player change it. This goes for slavery as well. Slavery was an ancient practice, not just used to subjugate races, rather prisoners or the impoverished as well. Slavery was common in Arabia and Africa before the Triangle Trade began in the Atlantic. Although having colonies acquire slaves as “commodities” may seem racist, it is unfortunately accurate – for centuries slaves have been treated as commodities. If trading in slaves bothers the player, they can enact the decision to abolish slavery in their kingdom, making all provinces trading slaves find another commodity.

    Although Europa Universalis IV is certainly not the epitome of perfection, the developers have made a great deal of effort in bringing us a brilliant grand strategy game to enjoy for hours and they continue to add to it, fixing and creating where they see fit.

  • Hystery Lesson

    “Yes, white Americans, you ARE the beneficiaries of genocide. Get used to it.”

    I am used to it. Have been for quite a while. Now can we get back to the gaming?

  • http://gravatar.com/juanfgs juanfgs

    Paradox and Civilization fan here. Paradox tries to make their game a simulation within historical constraints. That’s why tech groups work the way they do. The main idea of the game is that nations develop pretty much the same way that they did in real life. Every Paradox game focuses on a different part of history, Crusader Kings is about managing a dynasty and Game of Thrones-like plots and conspiracies. EU about Europa expansionism post-renaissance. Victoria about colonialism and imperialism in the 19th century. And HoI about the second world war.

    Honestly it’s good that there is a game that let’s player experience history as it unfolded with the present changes each culture had at the time. Yeah tech groups might look unfair, but if not most games would end with China steam-rolling the map due it’s high population, and just taking away what defined the different cultures at the time and just focusing on the “positive aspects” would end up being a completely unrealistic simulation. There are also many players who enjoys being the underdog and playing as a near-impossible country ( like Maldives) becoming an empire and changing history permanently, so it also serves the purpose of presenting a challenge to seasoned players.

    If you played this game and focused on the “crimes of the white people” (because every civilization has their fair share of crimes committed), then you played it wrong, you played it narrow mindedly and biased.

  • Your Majesty’s Consort

    This was fucking hilarious. Loved it, loved it all. You’re either a madwoman or very good at playing the troll, but either way congratulations on making an innocuous little game into something “evil.” Good show!

  • A guy on the internet

    This is ridiculous. Yes, at the beginning, natives have much worse tech, but when Europeans arrive, you can westernize. Once, as the Cherokee, I built a huge empire spanning from Georgia to California. I defeated major European powers in wars. Sure, it was more of a challenge than if I was a European country, but I liked the challenge. It was more realistic. You don’t expect the Cherokee to defeat Britain.

  • MD1331

    Thought it was satire…. checked your twitter and lmaoed some more.

  • Costa

    You can make history whatever you want it to be in EUIV. At the end of my ‘No Trail of Tears’ campaign the Cherokee fleets had undisputed control of the Atlantic, Baltic, and Mediterranean, the British Isles, Normandy, and Denmark were Cherokee colonies (along with all the Islands of the North and South Atlantic), and the Cherokee armies were unmatched on the fields of Europe having carved up France amongst European minors and put an end to the bourgeoisie revolution in Sweden; I even had control of Taiwan and part of the Philippines (taken from the Spanish who originally colonized them), I’m still waiting for the EUIV to Vic2 converter project to be finished so I can continue the campaign into the 19th century.

    If you want to take an American nation and make a world power, you can do that, if you want to conquer and colonize as a European power, you can do that too. It’s really your choice. It’s certainly harder to start as an American Indian tribe, but after the effects of European diseases, that was the position they found themselves in historically. In fact, the difficulty of the task makes it all the more satisfying when your ships can finally blockade the English Channel or when your warriors can finally march through the streets of Paris.

  • Ben

    I find your stance on the game’s treatment of non-Europeans to be rather unfair. First off, you failed to mention the exquisite treatment of the Middle East, Asia, and Japan (although Japan’s mechanics are passable at best). I would like to point out that this game is called EUROPA Universalis IV. The centerpiece of the game is Europe. It would be nice if there were working mechanics for the new world, but they just don’t really work in the frame that is this game.
    You mentioned that you wouldn’t colonize Africa because you saw slaves as a trade good. That’s what slaves were. A trade good. It doesn’t matter that slavery is one of the worst plagues to ever strike the dark hearts of man, slaves were, during the Imperial era, a trade good. The trading in this game is made to simulate the flow of goods in the world. Everything ends up in Europe. That is the focus of the game.
    The treatment of natives in the New world isn’t perfect. Obviously, everyone thinks it would be nice if the mechanics were more fleshed out. The problem is here, that would be TONS of work for Paradox. It would be like making the game again, not just DLC. The European imperialists did not care about your idea of morals or justice. To them, the natives were savages to be profited from. That is what the game makes them.

    • Turtler

      Beautiful. And well worthwhile. The only caveats I’d have are that more often than not, the non-European Imperialists also did not care about them, and saw the “natives”/enemies as savages to be profited from.

      Hence the vast Subsaharan slave networks, the Arab Slave Trade, the Incan hierarchy system, and what the Chinese and Russian Emperors did to their own people.

      If anything a precious few Euro-American Imperialists are more responsible for his idea of morals and justice than not, because a few of them were the ones to come up with the idea to abolish slavery in the first place (largely by- *Drumrooolllll*- Imperialism, Colonialism, and lots n lots of killing.).

      That, and from what I’ve seen the latest DLCs really do flesh out the rest of the world far, far better. Heck, I think in a lot of ways it’s far better as a representation of feudal Japan than Sengoku was.

    • Turtler

      Beautiful. And well worthwhile. The only caveats I’d have are that more often than not, the non-European Imperialists also did not care about them, and saw the “natives”/enemies as savages to be profited from.

      Hence the vast Subsaharan slave networks, the Arab Slave Trade, the Incan hierarchy system, and what the Chinese and Russian Emperors did to their own people.

      If anything a precious few Euro-American Imperialists are more responsible for his idea of morals and justice than not, because a few of them were the ones to come up with the idea to abolish slavery in the first place (largely by- *Drumrooolllll*- Imperialism, Colonialism, and lots n lots of killing.).

      That, and from what I’ve seen the latest DLCs really do flesh out the rest of the world far, far better. Heck, I think in a lot of ways it’s far better as a representation of feudal Japan than Sengoku was.

  • Hagen De Man

    I love how you have no problem at the start of the article sending off armies to kill my ancestors in the Low Countries who wanted self determination, but as soon as you do it to brown people you get queasy.
    Because the Flemish and Dutch aren’t worthy of your mercy, are they? No, not brown enough. Where is the line, I wonder? Are you ok with invading North Africa and imposing christianity upon them? Or does the area in which you are willing to take away freedoms neatly circle Europe, as I suspect?

    • corsair82

      As brutal as European hegemons were to their rivals’ citizenry—and their own for that matter—there is little in your ancestry (unless you are Jewish or descended of Jews) to compare to the transcendent horror that was the Middle Passage. None of your ancestors was kidnapped by neighboring tribes, sold to people so foreign that their every word and custom were indecipherable, enchained for the rest of your life and packed into deplorable conditions that only those jammed into the boxcars on the line to Auschwitz could envy.

      Assuming you were “lucky” enough to survive the passage—which was no small miracle—you could look forward to being physically brutalized on a regular basis until your very soul was rent in half and your back bore the permanent scars of your slavemaster’s implement of choice. After that, a life where, if you formed a family it was better than even odds that either your owner forced you to do so with a partner not of your choosing and/or you ended up on the wrong side of a business transaction from your loved ones and never saw them again. And you could just plain forget about preserving more than the tiniest shreds of your cultural identity for future generations. Even those descended of Native Americans—who were far more systematically targeted for cultural conversion than the enslaved—today are many times more likely to know what band, tribe, culture, or region they are descended from.

      So please tell me again how your ancestors had it as bad as the “brown people,” itself a term that neither of us has any business using if we’re at all concerned with how people of color might feel about or perceive our meaning. I say this as someone whose guildmate corrected him for using the term by explaining with some annoyed patience how offensive that term is to him when used by people who don’t have to live with the lingering echoes of centuries of oppression and possessing exactly no privilege (read: equality) that they or their parents/grandparents/etc. had to march or protest or otherwise earn through blood, sweat, and tears.

      • Hagen De Man

        For all that, the message still appears to be: oppressing Europeans ok, oppressing someone else not ok.

        I’m sorry your city is such a craphole, I’m sorry your friend’s family is doing poorly, and I will not attempt to absolve anyone of any blame for that. It is terrible, and Europeans and/or their descendants are (part of) the cause, we are agreed.
        My family has lived in Flanders since the 13th century, so I am a white western European, so no, I do not suffer disadvantages from birth.

        There our agreement ends. I cannot understand the writer feeling uneasy. What did she expect to find in a conquest simulator set to start in the 15th century titled Europa Universalis? The deeds, however nightmarish, are done. Will colonizing in this game make it worse? Of course not.
        In fact, in one game, I got fed up with native risings burning my colonies and created 2 armies, the Butcher Battallion and the Genocide Gentlemen, who litterally killed every single native on earth. Because I thought that was funny. It doesn’t have to mean anything outside of the game, and it doesn’t. I am not a genocidal lunatic in real life.
        Hell, I always take the “Abolishment of slavery” decision as soon as it becomes available. But I honestly do it for a benefit in the game, not because my morality demands it.

        My point, in short, is; it’s a game. Get over yourself. Because this has got to be the laziest social crusading I’ve ever seen. Whining about historic events too far away in time to do anything about it, with the added level of uselessness that they’re being depicted in a freaking videogame. Then another level of being picky about which historic injustices you’re going to be upset about. “Boo slavery! Boo what happened to Native Americans, boo this, boo that! Boo – huh? What? Spanish what? In.. quee… sitsion? Eh, don’t care.” That’s you. That’s what you sound like, along with the writer of this article.

        • corsair82

          You’ve interpreted the message that way because you chose to, not based on a fair reading of what the writer wrote.

          I’m not sure you even took the time to read and comprehend what I wrote. I agree with you, though for different reasons, and was calling out your false equivalencies.

          But continue on with your high horse and self-righteous ad hominem attacks against anyone whose viewpoint is different from your own. Clearly it does something for you.

          • Jean-luc Marc Loiselle

            your just a typical fuck. stfu

          • corsair82

            No, I don’t think I shall. But thank you for that life-shattering revelation, Mr. Special Snowflake. Now that I know I’m just like everyone else, surely I’ll just run to my corner and drown in my own non-existent tears, purely to prove you right, of course.

            Seriously though, if that’s the best argument your rage can come up with, maybe it’s time to reassess whether your anger is justified or—as is more likely the case—comes from some immature portion of your psyche that really doesn’t understand why Mommy doesn’t walk you to school any more.

          • Jean-luc Marc Loiselle

            then hurry the fuck up you cunt

          • corsair82

            Gee. Your innovative use of expletives has caused me to re-evaluate my life choices and I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re still just a pathetically desperate, sexist troll who thinks female body parts are somehow insulting names to call other people.

          • Tim Robbe

            While I can appreciate your wording, I’m not really sure how calling someone a cunt, dick or whatever makes one a sexist. Regardless; why are you replying to this individual’s bait in the first place?

          • corsair82

            Oh, I’m an amateur fiction writer between jobs at the moment. It’s mostly just to keep my typing speed up and make sure the vocabulary gets some occasional exercise.

          • Mark Schoenaerts

            Amusing. Thank you for keeping the writing style polite, too – I don’t completely agree with you, but at least you clearly state what you think without divulging in flame wars.

          • dmitar

            wow nice fucking fedora, are you a BA social studies graduate? You are so well-spoken, articulated and polite to boot! Truly a gentleman/lady. Get fucking job lmao, and spare people viewing your shit

  • Jean-luc Marc Loiselle

    you need to grow some fucking balls, nothing is wrong with this game.

    • corsair82

      Only children cuss in public and think it makes them look grown or their words more emphatic.

      • primo aurelius

        because cursing at someone has EVERYTHING to do with empathy… and to the writer of the article…i don’t know anyone who makes excuses about colonization. if that were true, we would still be living in the age of empires, and imperial rule, but we don’t, and nations have more self-determination than pretty much any time in history. seriously, if you have a problem with this game, you should just put them down and never pick them up again, because your going to have a hard time reconciling some of the other “dark and troubling” things you will find. they didn’t set out to make a politically correct history simulator (which, by the way, would be incredibly dumb, because history is NOT politically correct), they set out to make a GAME about this time in history, to give us a small idea of how the world worked back then. its not the game that you have a problem with, its the history…

        • corsair82

          Emphatic. Like Worf. Not empathic. Like Troi. 😉

  • Robert Buxton

    I’m glad the reviewer in question didn’t play Vicky 2, where all the world’s population is a plain number for you to see. There’s an event, colonial unrest of some sort, where you have two choices: intervene immediately, or intervene…eventually. Intervene eventually lets your pops get less militant, but kills a lot more of them. Games are played from a perspective – I don’t understand why a fictional rampaging sociopath is a more acceptable perspective than that of, let’s say, the King of England.

  • Hans Tjelle

    This reeks of modern progressive condescension. The type of condescension and scorn which is pointed backward in time, but only towards Europe, and only when Europeans decided to invade lands overseas. Apparently, wars and conquests and genocides are just fine, so long as it’s all happening on the same continent as your capital. As soon as you start conquering lands across the ocean, that’s racist and terrible and you should be ashamed of yourself. I don’t even know if this article has a point. Is it telling people to stop playing the game because it conflicts with modern sensibilities? Or is it just making sure people know the author is a good ethical modern progressive human being, who feels bad (as apparently white person should) for the actions of his ancestors, or at least anyone in the past with the same skin colour. Well, congratulations on asserting your superior moral values. I’m gonna keep expanding my colonial empire without any remore, and then keep donating money to NPO-s, because I’m actually able to separate games from reality

  • primo aurelius

    history vs women and videogames… (you know you like my play on words…)

  • Berg

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    I can smell the condescension a mile away.

    I can also tell that you didn’t even try other, less-Caucasian choices, as you seem to think that the game revolves around Europe. The Ming are one of the strongest powers in the game, The Aztec are extremely powerful in their own right as well. The Ottomans are arguably one of the best starting powers in Europe itself.

    I can tell that you didn’t play as many different nations, as you say that all advisors are the same. Yes, they do all look the same, but that’s less to do with developer Euro-bias and more to do with the extremely large amount of work that would go into drawing an entire pool of advisors for every one of the hundreds of countries in the game. Many do however have unique names for their respective nation(s).

    The natives don’t colonize like the Europeans because that’s not what they did in real life. The Natives of North and South America didn’t expand much, save for a few outliers (Iroquois, Inca, Aztec), and even they didn’t go as large-scale as Europeans. More importantly, the Native American population was no where near as dense as Europe. It was in fact very likely for a European settler to walk for miles without seeing a single native. It’s not like the Europeans got off the boat, and there was immediately hundreds of thousands of natives waiting for them. There just weren’t that many of them, and most were killed by disease before Europeans even really met them.

    The Natives are limited because there isn’t much (really any) written history on them from pre-European times. How do you expect a civilization like the Inca, which had no written language, to have accurate representation before the Spanish met them?

    There’s also more to the game than Western Europe, besides what I said about China, the Ottomans, and the Aztec, you can also play some fun and productive games as Russia, India, or one of the numerous nations in Southeast Asia or the Middle East. Comparatively, most Holy Roman Empire states are tiny and are mostly barren featurewise.

    The game is fairly historically accurate. Trade mainly benefits Europeans because that’s the way it worked in real life. Slavery is in the game because it existed in real life, and formed the largest chunk of Sub-Saharan African trade. This is a historical strategic game. You’re not meant to create a world empire as the Carib or some other tiny group without it being a huge challenge. And that’s the whole point, rough realism. Obviously the game isn’t strictly realistic, as many Ulm-based empires will tell you, but the point is that it accurately sets you up in 1444 as the world really was at that time, and let’s you continue from there.

    I’m not quite sure if you’re being sarcastic comparing the colonization of the Americas with the wars of Western Europe, but they’re not really any more sinister. It’s not like the first Spaniard to meet natives starting rubbing his hands together thinking “I get to cause the deaths of MILLIONS of people!” sniggering to himself in sheer villainy. It was the completely inadvertent worldwide ignorance of the spread of diseases that caused almost all of the deaths of natives. Meanwhile you are consciously slaughtering brigade upon brigade of helpless cannon fodder, knowing full well that at least some will die; but what’s that for the greater goal of winning a petty land squabble?

    Overall, this article feels like you played the game, had fun, but really wanted to find something controversial that just isn’t there, at least on purpose.

  • darius the great

    My friend the reason why paradox added those mechanics was because it DID happen. This is meant primarily to be a historical game, so by not adding those mechanics then they would be outright denying that it ever happened.
    This game is a just game, nothing else. I am black and yet I enjoy playin as an African nation and colonizing the Americas myself (personally if the Africans did have a chance to colonize the Americas, they would. We are all human).

    Also if you think natives are too disadvantaged, there are cheats you know :)

  • Jon Readman

    “The Dark Heart of Pdox EUIV” Oh give me a flipping break, its a game get over it and if it offends your sensibilites or whatever who cares don’t play it. its a fun game. Also its rather cheeky how over running and enslaving/oppressing European peasantry LIKE THEY DID IN REAL LIFE=Totally Cool but doing the same thing against the same the tribes overseas in the game is OMG HOW COULD THEY? get a flippin grip, this game is awesome.

  • Dan Axleer

    Your history is wrong.

    Europeans were not responsible for the depopulation of the natives during the colonial period; instead, the Europeans accidentally brought diseases which the natives had no immunity against and these ravaged the populations, decreasing them by 90% which allowed the Europeans to then colonise.

    There were civilizations in North, South and Central America when the Europeans came, such as societies along the Mississippi river and obviously the Aztecs and Incans.

    The first wave of colonisation was at “ground zero” of the epidemic (South America) and the second wave of colonisation was hundreds of years later; by this time the virus had spread across North America and all the societies collapsed.

  • Fakjbf

    You completely fail when describing the colonization screen. Yes, the two main factors are ferocity and aggressiveness. But it’s on a scale, some provinces have natives that have high aggression and low ferocity, others have it reversed, some are high in both and some are low in both. That’s because it’s a literal game mechanic, not some arbitrary description. Aggressiveness is how likely they are to attack settlers and ferocity is how powerful their units are. It is NOT in any way calling Native Americans aggressive and ferocious. If there were space in Europe to colonize they would have the EXACT SAME THING.

    The only reason there aren’t colonizable areas in Europe is because Europe was more centralized. It had fully formed and substantive governments. But in the Americas, most interactions were at a tribal level. Many didn’t have set territories, they were at least partially nomadic in that they would only stay in one spot for a couple years and then move on. They didn’t build huge infrastructure, one of the main hallmarks of a true nation. Yes, some were closer to nations than others, and that is represented by having many New World nations. But they don’t control all of the territory because they historically didn’t, much of the land was populated by individual tribes that didn’t belong to the larger group. If you could start the game at say 500 BC, you could start as Rome, build up Italy for a while, then colonize Gaul and Britain. It would be the same mechanics and you wouldn’t question it, because nobody questions it since it happened over two thousand years ago. They did the exact same thing, the only reason we think of the Americas as a special kind of colonization is because it was relatively recent, it was done very quickly, and tremendous numbers of people died (though mostly from disease that would have killed them regardless of how brutal the Europeans were).

    And yeah it’s hard to beat the Europeans as Native Americans because that’s totally what happened. The Europeans had guns and armor, the Native Americans had stone and leather. Do you want them to completely ignore the gargantuan technological advantage the Europeans had? It’s an uphill battle to play as the Native Americans because it WAS an uphill battle to be a Native American in this time period. There’s a reason they more or less lost in real life, and it’s the exact same reason the Europeans usually win in the game. And don’t forget, around 80% of Native Americans died of disease brought from Europe. So they were in fact weakened, and once the disease swept through a village it usually left few alive so that area became relatively unpopulated, another reason for all of the blank areas. They would have to have an extremely complicated epidemic simulator running in the background once you find the New World in order to portray it accurately. Which would be terribly laggy, probably full of bugs, and would have required huge investments of resources to create.

    And seriously, you find fault with them having slaves as a tradable resource? You do realize how slaves were acquired right? Europeans didn’t send expeditions into Africa to kidnap the natives, the Africans did it for them. They would send battle captives and enslaved villagers to the coast to be sold for goods and weapons, so having them as a tradable resource is a perfectly acceptable way of displaying that because that’s what they were. Yeah by today’s standards that’s abhorrent and evil, but back then it was normal. And this is a historical simulator, so it’s based on the views of the time.

    Honestly, is there a way they could do it correctly? If it’s accurate then it’s morally wrong, if it’s inaccurate then it’s trying to cover up the atrocities. Paradox can’t win, so they went with a system that’s simple to use, gets the point across, and at least tries to represent what it was like. I would seriously like you to try designing one that would be in any way enjoyable to play.

  • dmitar

    Wow, i’m fucking sorry that you didn’t get a nice liberal white wash on history. Nice blog, you sad cunt.

  • Ross

    Are you considering recanting this article considering the progress EU4 development has made, specifically the New World? You would probably rather enjoy conquering the Americas as the Cherokee people and then kicking the Europeans out when they try to make colonies. It’s good fun.