The Ages of Civilization

What year is it? 2013 (of course!), you might say. Simple question, right? Well, other perspectives abound: it's also year 5774 of the Jewish calendar, 1434 AH of the Islamic calendar, 1392 of the Persian calendar, and CCXXII of the French Republican calendar. Over time however, these calendars were supplanted by the hegemony of the Gregorian calendar, with Papal revisions and later a nice neutral "CE" slapped on over "AD" for objectivity's sake.

Even if that debate has been somewhat settled, we are left with the question--in what age does 2013 AD/CE reside? Are we in the Atomic Age (1945-?), the Space Age (1957-?) or the Information Age (1947-/1958-/1969-/1977-?)??? Though we know at least that humanity will not enter the Jet Age until around 2062, the overlapping ages of today's world present a dilemma. Just what is the defining characteristic of our time? If academics cannot achieve consensus, are there other expert sources we could consult?

Indeed, if it is the current age of civilization we hope to ascertain, then who better than the creator of Civilization, Sid Meier, to consult? And by "consult," Your Editor of course refers to playing the computer games designed by Meier and his contemporaries, including Will Wright's SimEarth and Activision's Civilization spin-off. As the player advances and discovers new technologies, their civilization enters new historical eras. These chronologies have been transposed to the chart below for comparison.
Despite the differences in each game, there *is* some overlap. For SimEarth, the Atomic Age has given way to the Information Age. In Civilization: Call to Power, humanity is also transitioning into the Genetic Age. For Civilization proper, the conundrum of what follows the Modern Era remains essentially unsolved. Rather than being superseded by the Postmodern Era (presumably followed by the Post-postmodern Era), in Civilization II the game concludes with the Modern Era, while in Civilization V the Modern Era begets the Future Era (the hatched part of the graph). Who knows what wonders might follow thereafter, in the Post-future Era?!

Hmm, is it possible that computer games don't actually know more than academics or popular conceptions? Certainly not! Perhaps continuing in the scientific vein of this study, we could engage in a process of synthesis. The two variants of the Modern Era should cancel one another out (and the foray into the Future Era simply be dropped, since we're living in the present, duh!), leaving the Information Age and the Genetic Age. These two can be nicely combined into what henceforth the Volidity Report shall refer to our present age of civilization, The Biotech Age.

For more critical video game analysis, stay tuned for future polemics on the raging debates over class, race, and gender in the Land of Hyrule!

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