My brother sent me an article last week about the highest paid athlete in history — a charioteer in ancient Rome. Turns out he earned the modern equivalent of $15 billion over his career and lived a lavish lifestyle. Yes, if you were a citizen of the Roman Empire, life was usually pretty good. Of course, if you clicked on the virtual citizens of your Roman city in Caesar III, you’ll most likely get an earful of complaints.
This was one of the more charming elements of the city building computer game Caesar III, a clever combination of SimCity and a real-time strategy game, which let you build Rome in a day. While historically inaccurate — if you laid out your digital version using an actual Roman street plan, your city would fail — Caesar III was nonetheless a challenge to play and a great deal of fun. Clicking on your citizens as they went about their daily tasks would tell you what they needed, as you planned what to construct next. Aquaducts, markets and colosseums were important, but so were gardens, walls and temples: you really did not want to anger the gods in this game.
Sadly, the only thing Caesar III was lacking was a multiplayer element, one where you could trade with — or invade — your friend’s cities.