Understanding Ancient Greece means learning about its science, technology, medicine, religion, politics, warfare, and lots of other things. It’s hard to do without primary sources, since records from the time are written in dead languages like Linear A and Linear B. (Their names make them sound like programming languages.)

Certain games like the SimCity series, or the Civilization series, Pharaoh help somewhat to illustrate everything that has to go into a city (or civilization) for it to grow and thrive. Obviously, these games aren’t 100% accurate, but they usually contain elements that resemble the time period, and for me, seeing a game get something wrong encourages me to do my own research.

Two other games I want to mention are Rome: Total War and Slaves to Armok: God of Blood: Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress, also known as Dwarf Fortress. I’ll admit I haven’t played any of the other entries in the Total War series (I’d love to try Medieval 2), but I had a blast playing Rome. The game does a great job of letting the player get into the head of a Roman general, I felt particularly satisfied in burning Gaulish towns and villages.

Dwarf Fortress deserves its own series of articles dedicated to how awesome it is. I’ve put it on the list. One of the things most of these games have in common is a steep learning curve, especially earlier entries in their series. It’s easy to watch your populations fall apart due to the lack of some otherwise obvious resource (oh, like food) without lots of trial and error. If you’ve ever wanted to manage a simulated commune of raging, manic-depressive alcoholics, Dwarf Fortress is your game. :D