Sid Meier's Civilization V

 

Learning(i)

Excellent strategy game is educational and accessible.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game explores how civilizations come into existence, thrive, and war with one another. It encourages players to experiment with various governments, policies, and ideologies to learn about their advantages and disadvantages as they guide societies toward military, cultural, diplomatic, scientific, or economic victory.

Positive role models

The game features a mix of 18 famous and infamous historical leaders, including George Washington, Queen Elizabeth, Napoleon, and Augustus Caesar. While each leader comes with his or her own tactical bonuses that may lend themselves to a particular way of playing, ruling style is determined solely by the player.

Ease of play

Far and away the most accessible PC-based Civilization game to date, players’ hands are held through every step, with important information automatically popping up on screen and all available actions each turn shown in the bottom right corner. It can still be devilishly difficult on hard settings, but players should experience no trouble learning how to play.

Violence

A wide variety of historical military units -- swordsmen, musketeers, tanks, and bombers -- fight each other from a bird’s-eye view. Faint cries of pain can be heard, and soldiers crumple and disappear when defeated. Nuclear explosions can wipe out entire cities. There is no blood or gore.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One of the game’s Civilopedia entries references the opium trade as part of a description of historical economics.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Sid Meier’s Civilization V uses authentic historical elements -- famous leaders, nations, resources, military units -- to simulate non-historical empires. In other words, players can, say, lead Gandhi’s India through millennia of military rule or have Napolean’s France become an empire of diplomacy and science. Though the simulated history is fictional, players can still learn a great deal, not just about real-world figures, concepts, and units, but also how cultural, ideological, and geographical factors can change a world’s geopolitical landscape. Play necessitates the depiction of some violence, but it is presented from a high perspective and is quite mild. While it is the most accessible PC-based Civilization game to date, it is still a deep, complex, and demanding game that could prove frustrating for younger players. Keep in mind, too, that online play supports open text and voice chat. Common Sense Media does not recommend moderation-free online communication for pre-teens.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary
  • reading

Math

  • money
  • subtraction
  • addition

Social Studies

  • power structures
  • cultural understanding
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • prediction
  • analyzing evidence

Creativity

  • developing novel solutions

Self-Direction

  • academic development

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • making wise decisions

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Engrosses students with lush graphics and intense historical story lines. Gameplay is quick and yet satisfying, hooking inexperienced gamers and detailed enough to create infinite teaching moments.

Learning Approach

There is a deep well of in-game social studies information that easily fits in with world history classes. Transfer of game knowledge back to class content will rely on the teacher working through the game experience later with the students.

Support

It wasn't created with educators in mind, so it doesn't include any teacher curriculum; however, there is a devoted online community, extensive support base, and multiple difficulty levels.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary
  • reading

Math

  • money
  • subtraction
  • addition

Social Studies

  • power structures
  • cultural understanding
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • prediction
  • analyzing evidence

Creativity

  • developing novel solutions

Self-Direction

  • academic development

Responsibility & Ethics

  • learning from consequences
  • making wise decisions

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn about historic events that led to the birth of human civilization and the factors that have governed and altered its growth. As Sid Meier's Civilization progresses, players gain understanding of significant developments in human history and how they led to even greater discoveries, inventions, and social and political advances. Players win by rapidly growing their civilizations in one of these disciplines: science, diplomacy, culture, or military. Players absorb lasting knowledge about the history of the world from the role of an empowered ruler.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

What's it about?

The Civilization franchise is a two-decades-old bastion of strategy gaming bliss in the PC world, and its basics remain firmly intact in Civilization V. Players select an authentic historical leader and begin the game with a single city in a sparsely populated ancient world. As the years flip by, you scout the land, find additional cities, and meet strange new cultures that you can either crush with your armies or befriend as you work toward satisfying diplomatic, cultural, or scientific victory conditions. And it’s all been made more accessible than ever before. A clean, new interface includes bulletins that pop up on the right side of the screen, ensuring you’re always apprised of changes in neighboring countries’ dispositions and aware of vital opportunities. Just below is a dynamic action button that leads you through all available activities, ensuring that you never forget to move a unit or begin production on a new building before ending a turn.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Civilization V’s changes aren’t limited to simply making things more user-friendly. A new social policy system allows players to mix and match ideologies such as fascism and rationalism for strategic growth in areas like technology and population happiness. And the introduction of city-states that can be used as allies or pawns adds an entirely new element of strategy worthy of significant consideration.

What’s more, Civilization’s battles have never been better. Cities can now defend themselves, which means no more piling them full of soldiers you’d rather have on the front lines. And whereas players once stacked units into massive armies before merrily marching off to war, each unit now occupies its own space on the map, forcing players to strategically line up ranged attackers behind melee units in preparation for sieges. Simply put, it’s tons of fun. This season’s high-profile shooters might steal the spotlight for the moment, but if there’s one game released in 2010 that people will still be playing five years from now, it’s Civilization V.

Online interaction: Multiplayer supports open text and voice chat so players could hear unwanted  and inappropriate communication.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about learning from games. Do you think the Civilization games can potentially teach players more about the world in which they live? Do you think this game can make players better understand how modern geopolitical conflicts occur?

  • Families can also discuss the differences in depicting war from the personal perspective of an individual soldier versus that of a bird’s eye view. Why might the latter be more appropriate and bearable for younger players than the former?

Game details

Platforms:Windows
Price:$49.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Available online
Developer:2K Games
Release date:September 21, 2010
Genre:Strategy
ESRB rating:E10+ for Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Violence (Windows)

This review of Sid Meier's Civilization V was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bymikhailk April 19, 2012
age 8+
 

Civilization V - incredibly fun, and highly educational

Civilization V is a stunningly enjoyable game which has the potential to inspire people of all ages to learn more about history. Although it does not present an accurate portrayal of historical events (as it allows each player to choose their own path), it presents the course of human history and civilization as a fascinating journey. Even more importantly, the emphasis it places on long-term strategic thinking and planning promotes strong development of decision-making and reasoning skills. Although the game does not present a specific sense of morality, this ambiguity allows players to think intelligently about the choices they make and the real impact those choices will have on their virtual subjects. This might be lost on younger players, but it's a great idea to talk about this with older, thoughtful children. In many senses, this game is a lot like chess for the twenty-first century. People play it as entertainment, not to learn, but while playing Civilization V, learning is almost unavoidable, even if you don't notice because you're having too much fun. Although I rated the game as being appropriate for anybody over the age of 8, that's a reference to the content, not the difficulty. Even on the easiest setting, the game will most likely be too difficult for most children under the age of twelve or so, unless an older player helps them as they learn the game. The game can be violent in a sense, but roughly in the same sense that chess is violent: in chess, you move pieces from one tile to another on the game board, taking over the territory that your opponent's pieces once occupied. Although the combat in Civilization V is dressed up with fancier graphics and some sound effects, it's relatively abstract like chess, as though you're moving a token on a game board. In summation, Civilization V is loads of fun, and also a genuinely positive experience, challenging players to engage in creative planning, weighing priorities, calculating risks, adapting to changing scenarios, and considering the morality of their actions. I have been playing the Civilization series of computer games since I was a child, and it took me decades to realize just how much I was learning from it. The beauty is, you don't learn facts - you learn how to *think*, and that's the most important type of learning there is.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old November 14, 2010
age 10+
 

Awesome, but you'll need a good computer!

Civ 5 is finally here! I played it for a minute and was instantly pulled in! However, being new, it needs a good computer! I would suggest Quad Core Processor on a desktop. Still, great game all around! Great for anyone who truly appreciates a good strategy game!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byeca3101 January 1, 2014
age 10+
 

Great game, nothing actually bad too it

The game may have some fighting scenes. But all it is really is the soldiers go to fight, then if one of them gets hit they fall on the ground then just disappear. No blood gore or anything of that sort. The game also teaches kids to balance a budget and the war is costly both time and money wise. For each unit killed you loose time building/training the unit and you lose a front in the war. It also shows how easy it is to get into debt and how hard it is to get out. It also has some historical accuracy to it. Giving kids some extra knowledge on the way! E.g.: the leaders are accurate to their respected nations (Washington to USA, Gandhi to India etc); it also has historically accurate units and buildings (japan has the samurai, Egypt has the tomb etc) The only thing about civilization 5 is that its learning curve is MASSIVE. My son managed to understand the game within 3 days. That may not sound like a lot but for younger audiences (my son was 10) and children/tweens who don't like the strategy genre, this may be an even bigger learning curve. Other than that I totally recommend this game.
What other families should know
Great messages

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass