I’ve always been close with the humanities– my mother is an English teacher– and history and literature have always appealed to me. When I look back, though, I can point to a single time that determined my future in the humanities. That would be the happy holiday season when I received and played to death a copy of Civilization II.

First: I’m dating myself pretty seriously here. Civ II released in 1996. The family PC, a Compaq Presario that had all the manufacturer’s stickers left on it (just in case?), was surprisingly up to the task of running the game. I’m not sure why I chose “the Greeks” as my first civilization, but I did. I built up my humble empire and even constructed some World Wonders. The game played little clips of the Wonders when you built them, and it felt magical to see all of this happening right in front of me (it was, as I have mentioned, 1996).

I spent as much time reading the Civilopedia as I did playing the game. The Civilopedia was a massive handbook meant to explain all the game’s many rules, but I liked to read the parts that explained all the history involved in designing the game. Years later, when I went to college, I found myself drawn immediately to the fields of ancient history and the classics, picking up right where I left off from Civilization II.

– Robert Carpenter (Ph.D. Student)