One man did. And it helped him imagine something else: a bleak, war-ravaged future version of Earth.
A member of the social news website Reddit who goes by the name Lycerius posted his results from a decade-long game of "Civilization II," a turn-based strategy games in which players build their own society. His epic struggle pushed the game to its limits, further than developers ever imagined or planned for.
The "Civilization" franchise is a series of strategy games that allow players to grow small tribes into large, sprawling nations. Players can manage resources, build armies and engage in diplomacy in an effort to grow their civilization into a world leader.
"Civilization II" was released in 1996. But when the third version of the game was released in 2001, Lycerius said, he was already deep into his current game and wanted to see how far he could go.
He doesn't play every day but returns to what he called a "hellish nightmare of suffering and devastation" when he has some free time.
Now in the year 3991, his world is down to three super-nations, each competing for dwindling resources, and a planet left scarred by multiple nuclear wars. His Celts are locked in a 1,700-year war with the Vikings and the Americans. All other nations have been destroyed or absorbed.
"Peace seems to be impossible. Every time a cease fire is signed, the Vikings will surprise attack me or the Americans the very next turn, often with nuclear weapons," Lycerius wrote on Reddit. "Even when the U.N forces a peace treaty. So I can only assume that peace will come only when they're wiped out. It is this that perpetuates the war ad infinitum."
Because of the continual fighting, he was forced to abandon his democracy and adopt a communist state, because his Senate kept overruling him when he wanted to declare war. Also, his cities are filled with starving people (90% of his world's population died from nuclear annihilation or famine from global warming) because, he says, he has to keep building war machines to sustain his combat efforts.