The polar ice caps have melted. Nuclear war has rendered most of the Earth uninhabitable. Only 15 million people still call the planet home, most of humanity having died off from radiation, flooding and famine. Almost all of them are part of the last three nations on Earth (the theocratic Americans, the communist Neo-Celts and the theocratic Neo-Vikings) who have been locked in a two thousand year war for the last remaining resources on the wounded planet.
Modern technology has made ICBMs obsolete, but that has not stopped tactical and suitcase nuclear weapons from being used on the modern battlefield. Democracy and individual liberty are a thing of the past, but almost every generation a doomed rebellion is launched that accomplishes nothing but insure that some soldiers die at home instead of on the stalled fronts that have become a hell on Earth.
In this bleak future there are a few reformers who want to use humanity's advanced technology to save the planet, but when the choice is either feed your people or total annihilation, there really is not much of choice. So the factories pump out their war machines with little hope of victory or salvation from a slow death as our world dies.
This grimdark future is brought to you by...Civilization II?!?!
That's right kids. Around 10 years ago a Reddit user by the name of "Lycerius" started a game of Civilization II that he has been playing on-and-off ever since. Somehow, completely unintentionally, the world came to closely resemble Orwell's 1984. After sharing his nightmare with Reddit, news of his marathon gaming exploded across the Internet and was covered by such publication as The Huffington Post and PC Gamer.
The game has inspired its own subreddit where people discuss the implications of the game and share their own fan fiction set in the universe. Someone even recently created a Wiki, though there is not much content there...yet.
What I find most intriguing about this game is how eerily it resembles Orwell's future of eternal war and absolute state oppression. Now I know some are thinking that this was a fluke and Civilization II is just a computer game. Nevertheless in a world where a World of Warcraft glitch can realistically portray a global epidemic, who is to say that we are not seeing the outcome of what happens when we compete with other nations for scare resources without any consideration of the good of mankind?
Either way I am going to go dig up my old Hearts of Iron game where I conquered the world as a fascist US and see what happens next!
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Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update, a volunteer editor for the Alt Hist magazine and a contributor to Just Below the Law. One of his short stories will be published in the upcoming Echelon Press anthology, Once Upon a Clockwork Tale (2013). When not writing he works as an attorney in the state of Illinois and enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana.