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It feels like forever ago, but last July I fell down an insane rabbit hole with Pokémon Go. And I didn't go alone. I took my boyfriend along with me, and we religiously followed all the great things that were happening in the world as a result of the game. But once Fall rolled around, I was totally over it and actively looking for the next great thing.
I'm one of those people who can't just passively binge-watch television on the couch in my off time. I'm always playing Two Dots, completing a crossword puzzle, or scrolling through Twitter. When I dropped Pokémon Go, I lost one important thing: the competitive spirit that was built between me and my boyfriend. We used to race through the streets and secretly drop cash on items to try to outpace each other in the game. It became my mission to find something that we found equally as satisfying — and I got really lucky when that search coincided with the release of the much-anticipated Civilization VI.
As of today, I can tell you unequivocally: Civilization VI is the best thing that's ever happened to my relationship.
What Makes Civilization VI Different Than Other Games
Civilization first debuted in 1991 as a computer game that enables players to craft, build, and protect an empire over the course of time. The game revolves around keeping your empire happy and making the right decisions for them. And though it's nothing like decorating a room for your Sim, it's just as addicting. I started playing it in school after I got bored of Oregon Trail and though it's been many years since then, I know several people who play it out of nostalgia, like my boyfriend.
These days, however, Civilization looks totally different. It's focused on urban development, religious spread, and a better life span for characters. This time around, Civilization takes on an entirely new generation of gamers by making it easier to engage with your citizens and harder to just stick to autopilot. There's also the fact that it's just so damn nice to look at, as the graphics have been significantly upgraded and the gameplay itself feels more like a video game than an old-school computer game.
How I Got Hooked
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As I mentioned earlier, I was on the hunt for a new game to play and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The game only costs $60, a justifiable amount that was equivalent to a rowdy night out, so of course, my boyfriend and I downloaded the game. We started off in our own separate games at first but later found that one of the best parts of Civilization VI is the ability to play a game over your local network and that we could build our empires side by side without existing in our separate worlds.
Within hours, it became clear that this was a good thing for us. We shouted at the barbarians who tried to mess up our developments, warned each other about the computer players who were gathering at the borders we couldn't see past, and gloated about our respective abilities to pull ahead of the pack. It was pure and simple fun.
Was It Really That Fun Playing With Your Boyfriend?
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Real talk: the first couple rounds we played together, I got creamed. I'm more of the build-up-your-city-type player, whereas my boyfriend is a warmonger in the extreme, and he got an incredible amount of pleasure out of coming out of nowhere and tearing down my civilization. To be fair, I found myself constantly checking the stats to make sure that I was focusing my resources on one-upping him in our shared world.
After a while, though, we realized we were spending a whole lot of time trying to trick each other and not focusing on what was going on around us. I started to leave a lot more dirty dishes than usual for the first few nights and accidentally "forgot" to take out the trash just so I could peep at his screen!
Ultimately, though, we both came to our senses. It took us a couple of days, but we figured out that the best way to approach the game was to try to beat out the computer players instead. By baiting them and sharing intel, we could quickly rise up the ranks and tackle progressively harder levels of play.
How Does This Game Make Your Relationship Better?
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Never underestimate the ability of joint gameplay in bringing you and your significant other together. With Civilization VI specifically, you feel like you're learning something about the world you're creating and ways to improve. When you're playing side by side with a partner, you'll find yourself talking through the moves you're considering or the things you wish you'd done first. It creates an entirely different level of conversation that serves as an incredible escape from everyday life.
There are few games that allow you to do what you want and in the same universe, a feature Civilization VI has. As I mentioned, my focus in the game and the focus of my boyfriend are completely different, yet I can periodically direct my scouts over to where he's set up shop and investigate what he's got going on. It allows us to put something on Netflix, sit side by side, and not feel like we're ignoring each other. And while that sounds like such a First World problem, it's something you need to consider and often don't when there's social media to browse or solo games to play instead.
But Couldn't You Just Talk to Each Other?
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My boyfriend has a theory: the appeal of a movie or a long drive is that you don't have to make eye contact and constantly look at someone else while you're talking — and it opens up a new type of intimacy. As we're existing virtually in the game, we open up to each other more, discussing our lives freely as we scroll through our maps and saying things we might not have said otherwise if we were just sitting there trying to fill empty space. I'm not advocating a complete and utter surrender to a second screen, but there are few things more appealing than a quick round of a video game on a night where it's too cold to go out or you come home late from work. It's a break that we've woven into our lives that has helped us open up to each other more.
So Should You Try It With Your Significant Other?
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Civilization VI is the game that you never knew you needed, and it will surpass your expectations at every turn. It's a delightful, nonpolitical, only semiviolent escape that can foster a competitive relationship that enables you and your partner to achieve something individually but not alone. As we head into Winter and there's less to do outside, I can't recommend enough that you sacrifice the cost of one wild night out for many nights snuggled up on the couch together playing this game. Civilization VI can be downloaded via Steam, iTunes, or Amazon at any time, from anywhere.