Here is a chapter that introduces the Python code and a new scoring system of Civilization IV to compute the welfare of a toy society. This chapter gives an example of modifying a videogame for the serious use of exploring problems in population ethics, with a fictive example of a fan's scenario of the Iraq War. Download Scoring Quality of Life in Civilization IV in MS Word or PDF. After reading, you may also find the code itself and play with it. If you have comments or your own modifications, I'd be glad to acknowledge them.

Thanks to the Iraq War map by Userr, there is a quick scenario to challenge new and seasoned players for Civilization IV: Quality of Life. Iraq starts at war with England, United States, and Kuwait. Iraq has less than 100 years remaining. Can you improve Iraq's quality of life from last place to first place? To find out, install my mod and play Userr's scenario. The ethical calculus has been expanded to account for fatalities, life expectancy, several examples, diminishing marginal value, and the moral values tuned. Examples and explanation of the ethical calculus is exposed in the mod's source code.


The original Civilization IV rewards imperialism through scoring the glory of the empire. I reprogrammed the game to score the health and happiness of the citizens. By adapting John Broome's extended quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and responding to Derek Parfit's repugnant conclusions, I designed an ethical calculus that rewards restraint, diplomacy and art in Civilization IV. See the presentation and play the mod.

Computing Quality of Life in Civilization IV
(Slideshare accidentally covered some text with smiley faces. To correct see large file.)

Presentation [PowerPoint 3 MB] Presented at "Logic and the Simulation of Interaction and Reasoning 2"

Paper page 41-45 in proceedings.

Appearing at Games for Change, May 27, 2009
Logic and the Simulation of Interaction and Reasoning 2, July 12, 2009

Scoring Quality of Life in Civilization IV

Most popular social management games have neglected utilitarian calculus, often viewing citizens as a means to the governor's end. To supplement the pedagogy of ethical theory, a social management game's score of the dominion of a governor can be modified to score the quality of life of the simulated persons. From medical ethics, the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) is adapted to become well-informed, subjective, and extended (WISE). Although a complete formalization is inappropriate, an approximate utilitarian calculus is scripted in Civilization IV. An ethical calculus can incentivize a player to adopt a strategy that complies with some intuitive attributes of a humanistic society: restraint, diplomacy, and art. By customizing the scripted moral values, the student may discover which public policies are incentivized. In order to optimize their quality of life score in the modified Civilization IV, the modern student may be motivated to study ethics.

Modification for Civilization IV

This is a modification that changes the criteria for scoring. Instead of winning through domination, your score is the welfare of the people. In my opinion, as citizens of a civilization, we have an opportunity to look at a game about civilization with OUR goals in mind, not the leader's goals in mind. So in this modification, the quality of life for the citizens IS the score. Quality of life is the END in itself, instead of (as in the original game) a means to world domination.

Installation Instructions

Download modification to Civilization IV:

Instructions to install: readme.html

Print out the help to play: civilization4_qualityoflife_help.pdf