Why Civilization VI Doesn’t Feature Indigenous Australians

Why Civilization VI Doesn’t Feature Indigenous Australians

The official inclusion of Australians to Civilization VI has gone down well, even though Firaxis missed a trick by not including Russell Crowe as a special spy unit. But while most of the Australian “civilisation” is fairly authentic, Australia’s indigenous inhabitants are nowhere to be seen.

In a quick email interview with associate producer Pete Murray, I asked: why weren’t Australia’s first inhabitants included in Civ VI? It seemed an odd omission, considering their contribution to our nation’s history and a DNA study finding that indigenous Australians were also the oldest civilisation on Earth. But the reasoning was more considerate than at first glance.

“We were really sensitive to the depiction of indigenous Australians in the Australia civ, in part because we had similar discussions about Native American history when designing America as a [civilisation],” Murray explained. “When we were doing our research, we found that their cultures are diverse and rich enough that there was no way to do them justice in the context of the civ we were trying to design.”

“We hope that as people play Australia in the game, they become interested in the history of Australia, and take the time to learn about the indigenous cultures and history of Australia.”

Murray added that when John Curtin was also the only leader in contention to headline Australia in Civ VI, despite Sir Henry Parkes (the choice for the highly rated Australia Civ mod in Civ V), Ben Chifley (who established Australian citizenship and some of Australia’s biggest infrastructure milestones like the Snowy River Scheme, the CSIRO and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.

The Firaxis developer also explained that Australia was designed around the idea of making a civ that could make good use of high appeal terrain and coastal cities, while also being appropriate for an economic-only scenario. (Australia certainly doesn’t make a lot of sense as a military power.) “We usually start with the role we want the civ to play, and then look for historical counterparts that could plausibly fit this role. We do also look at distribution around the world and history, because we want Civilization to encompass a variety of times and places, and because it’s a lot of fun to do the research,” he said.


  • Being honest, Curtin was probably the best Prime Minister we’ve had, and a natural for Firaxis to choose. Whilst Chifley & Parkes were rather notable (Menzies was an asshole whose sole ambition was to try and run for Parliament in Britain so f*** him), Curtin had the resolve to be a brilliantly effective wartime leader. For example, Churchill tried to divert Australian troop ships coming home to defend Australia into Singapore, Curtin pretty well much told Churchill to “f*** off”, of which proved well and truly to be the right call, as those troop ships would have sailed into an occupied Singapore, and thus ended up as PoW’s for the rest of the war.

    Kinda hoping at some point we will have a separate Indigenous Australian civ at some point though.

      • I want someone to mod him in, wearing his iconic green and gold daily walk tracksuit.

      • Because workchoices was a splendid thing and everyone loved it!

        I do like ol jonny for bringing in the gun laws though.

      • GST, children overboard, failing to apologize and the firearms ban that has not saved any lives yet he’s happy to charge for speaking roles where he openly claims he saved hundreds of lives despite lacking any evidence proving it.

        He also screwed over an entire generation with industrial reform and work choices.

        Worst prime minister in history with only abbott and gillard to follow.

        • The firearms ban was the best thing he ever did. There were several mass shootings before and none after. The rest of his term though was spent wasting the profits of the mining boom and letting all public services deteriorate in the name of a surplus

          • your actually wrong on this, and this is what is so frustrating about it.

            It just changed public perspective, we’ve had several mass shootings since, we’re just lucky on a cultural and population level compared to the US.

            Unfortunately we have a lot of people getting brainwashed by GCA, a fake professor named Philip Alpers who is many times highlighted as a firearms expert (unqualified on this front as well) and has been found many times in collaboration with GCA to be making statements unable to be backed up as well as cherry picking and misrepresenting facts.

            We’ve had quite a few, don’t believe me google it.

            I was also at one, but go ahead call me a liar if you wish.

            I’ve also been at a few mass shootings, which thankfully had no fatalities, what stopped them being a mass shooting all over the news? luckily no one died.

            I still remember one of them very vividly because it was the first time I had my life in danger from a firearm, a young guy decided to try and shoot someone using an semi automatic handgun. Fired 14 shots at the guy.

            Happened to be out the front of a nightclub in my capitol city and the guy happened to have a lot of people around him, the whole any idiot can use a gun thing… well this guy didnt, aimed at one guy with many around, and somehow missed hitting anyone. But there were over 30 people out front, the difference between it being all over tv and not was by some miracle no one being killed.

            Firearms laws did not prevent it.

            The gun ended up being a smuggled in gun, illegal.
            The ammo used in it was made by an amateur who made it with smuggled in imports, illegal.
            The guy in possession of and using the gun? had criminal convictions for aggravated assault so under no circumstances before or after the law changes would have been granted a firearms license.

            So no law we have would have prevented it, no law we could have would have prevented it.

            Since then i’ve been to many others but lets pick a few that actually got media coverage / arent still being investigated :

            Ingleburn shooting, illegal sks rifle (banned here anyway) was used, many shots fired, multiple deaths by a criminal

            Sydney Siege – 2 murdered, this could have been a hell of a lot more, illegal firearm used, known psychopath that even the bikies called a psycho and wouldnt supply weapons to, yet easily got an illegal gun.

            Hectorville Siege – illegal firearm, known criminal, 6 people shot (including 2 police officers) 3 fatalities.

            These alone are in the last 5 years. I’ve been at several due to my line of work that arent even on any lists and have just been put down as disturbances : it’s funny how when criminals are involved, neither side wants to put in a report about it, so unless police or media arrive, it just gets put down as a disturbance or ‘unknown firearms discharge” if casualties don’t show up.

            One such incident I was at we got a call out due a “machine gun” being spotted by people, started locking down facilities and then having an illegal semi auto rifle fired numerous times.

            Again we just get lucky, we’re not like america with as many densely packed cities and as much population.

            Us tricking ourselves into thinking we’re so much better than other countries and being smug over the laws, just takes away focus that needs to be on mental health.

            We still for our population levels have over representation of vehicle homicides (including mass murders), mass stabbings and even more disturbing mass murder by arson, two of our worse mass murders that have occured since 2000 killed 15 and 10 people in one go.

            If there is one thing howard really did well was worked on dismantling our health care system and setting tony abbot and malcom turnbull up to break up medicare which tubull is still working on quietly and we have an unprecedented mental health crisis in australia.

            It just saddens that we can jump up and down raining shade on other countries laws, yet we have massacres that can be prevented by better mental health care, but we’d rather lecture other countries on their laws and victimize legal firearms owners to score political points.

          • Eh. I’m still for nobody having guns since there’s pretty much zero reasons to own one outside of hunting and sport.
            A lot of deaths come in the form of accidents, such as kids accessing unsecured firearms. There’s also the increased ease of suicide. Less guns (legal or otherwise) means less gun related deaths. Sure crims might still get guns but it does make it harder and more expensive for them to do so. Sure they can get knives easy but they’re much harder to kill with.

            Either way I feel much safer here than I would in an open carry state in the US where anyone at anytime could turn an argument into a full shootout.

          • Having worked in law enforcement as long as I have and seeing the factors I’d honestly drop statistics on this one.

            If you don’t like guns , fair enough, but imagining laws against legal firearms here being better off since howards laws it’s a bit of a rock vs bear solution.

            I can give you a rock, I can tell you it protects against bears, imagine the media has been going on and has you so paranoid about bears, all you know about them is they can easily go on a rampage and take people out, there are creatures like them that can do some damage but your feeling pretty good right now because you have a rock that protects you against them.

            I’m telling you what you want to hear, i’ve got your support and the support of everyone around you.

            But its just a rock…. it doesnt disprove the existence of bears, it doesn’t prove that before having the rock that bears were as much of an issue before or after.

            Guns have multiple uses, they arent inherently “designed to kill” as many will tell you, they serve many purposes, literally the definition of a gun in the proper terminology is an object to project force, so not wanting guns, by by impact drivers, glue and solder guns, oil capping devices, chemical delivery devices etc and so on.

            Our statistics actually show our deaths by firearms deaths dropping like crazy since the 70’s, again this is large in part to a changing culture and how things get reported, this is a really taboo thing to mention in my line of work but are you currently aware of the last 5 firearms related suicides in the last month?

            Well they were all with legal firearms users with access….. but they werent from legal firearms owners in the traditional sense and 3 of them were with legal firearms, 2 of them were soldiers and the other 3 were police officers who used their service firearm and its a real sad state of affairs.

            Currently in my capacity at a civilian I have someone I am dealing with who I know on a personal level who by all means and our laws should have no access to firearms, the person is extremely rich, has the right friends and has access to many firearms, it has been a nightmare reporting the person misconduct and having their firearms removed due to their mental capacity but unfortunately money and power prevent the system working on this person, the sad thing is, this person is also a suspected pedophile, again I have to deal with this person weekly.

            Despite me knowing these factors about the person, and incidents that would make a reasonable person go, yes this person is definitely dangerous with firearms, and is definitely involved in things putting children and women at risk, the capacity to deal with them is ridiculously limited.

            If this person had a legal firearms license, I can simply put in a report to the registrar of firearms stating the person is not a fit and proper person or state that I feel threatened by them and within minutes of that report going in, their house would be raided and all their firearms taken away, they can be prevented from entering certain places and watched by the police.

            As for availability of firearms in australia…. you are dreaming if you think our laws have made them more expensive and hard to get, if you are living in a bubble thinking we are in a safe and secure environment, you are either extremely out of touch with the area you are in, or no offense you are dead lucky.

            I live in a very nice area here (well I did until a neighbor from hell moved in). Here obtaining a firearm is as simple as logging on to gumtree and knowing what words to look out for on adverts, going to the local pub and knowing how to ask for things, remember drugs are illegal here as well and they are cheaper and easily available now more than ever.

            In australia under our purpose of use system for a legal firearms owner, they have to provide any of the following reasons and have them backed up to support owning or having access to a firearm, these include :
            Club use, target practice, hunting, paintball, primary production, security, (other)
            This can be zoo use, firearms instructor, military industrial etc.

            We just dont have the culture many think of with most firearms owners with americans with legal firearms owners, we don’t have people who have them just to have them.

            We don’t allow people to own them for protection, even security is insanely restricted, your guarding the head of state of another country or justin beiber? you still don’t get to use a gun for protection. We don’t have self defense allowances that cover firearms.

            Even in this country if a known violent offender with a history of violence attacks you with a firearm, and you end up in a struggle with them and you some how turn the firearm on them and wound them in self defense you can still end up on weapons charges.

            There were some good ideas in the NFA, but the problem is we went too far in many areas and not far enough in others, it shouldnt have been set up to ream legal users so hard.

            Under our system there never should have been a straight out focus on banning semi auto’s via C and D, but hey, what’s a great way to deal with a bunch of people who politically threaten you?

            As we’re now seeing its still extremely easy for the wrong people despite having some of the tighetest laws in the world who should never be allowed to get firearms get them.

            Monis the guy behind the lindt cafe siege obtained a firearm despite even the most common illegal firearms suppliers in australia (organized crime) being afraid of him and not wanting anything to do with him, he got kicked out of two bikie groups, even had them asking other groups not to give him guns due to his instability.

            A fun statistic to look up as well would be the amount of high quality illegal firearms that have been found by police, amount of home made ones and it is a drop in the bucket compared to what is out there.

            Another scary thing to look up as well especially if you are one of the people who likes to say that oh we shouldn’t let civilians own firearms due to criminals ability to steal them from them, looking up how many firearms are stolen from the police as well as the defense force here will scare you….. add to that the number simply put down as lost/missing/misplaced.

            We had an incident here where even a rocket launcher (has never been legal in australian history to own one) was among a list of missing gear that turned up in the possession of someone who shouldnt have it.

            They aren’t subject to most of the conditions and strict nature of the NFA and a lot of it gets burried by the media because it cuts down on the amount of stories that can be leaked and co-operation with the media.

            The sad thing is we’ve already had the recent 3 police suicides buried by the media when we should really be talking about them.

            Not still debating over disprove laws that have not reduced the effectiveness of firearms prevention towards criminals in australia and have just increased the amount of resources needed to hassle legal firearms owners who the majority are doing the right thing.

          • Skim reading because holy shit what an essay-
            “Firearms were used for suicide ”
            so less firearms is still good?
            Still think the whole “well crims will get guns anyway” argument is pretty meaningless.

      • Yes selling Telstra off to the private sector just before they were going to upgrade Australia to fiber optic was a splendid idea!

    • Curtin…not Curtain.

      And they could have done Aussie Aboriginals justice. Despite ‘genetic testing’, they are descended of three groups who migrated to Australia over time- neanderthals get totally ignored because you dont want to admit modern humans are a mongrel race of more than two peoples-your bigotry sickens me…go to your room. The first were pre fire Neanderthals and given european neanderthals had fire thats significant (ul phonetic is their language).
      The second were homo floriensis (The Aboriginal story tellers tell tales of the child sized Podj-podj) the remains of the last who have been dated to indonesia back 18,000 years (dj phonetic is their language marker). The third are humans from the main migratory surge 40,000 years ago (they give us the ng phonetic).

  • Translation: “Whatever we did, someone would hate it or be offended, so we didn’t try.”

    • Quoted for truth and I honestly cannot blame them, too much of a mine field nowadays.

      I have’t got Civ 6 yet, but I assume many of the countries are represented by their historic identities that are commonly ingrained to the world at large, not the original pre-monument builders that lived there. I see that no different to the Australian choice.

      • Eh, I guess the Kongolese civ wasn’t exactly a ‘monument builder’ but it was a kingdom of some importance (before being subjugated by Portugal and torn apart by civil war). There was no Australian aboriginal ‘kingdom’ as such, which I guess is why it was too difficult to include. They could have done aboriginal nations on the same continent as European settlers like they did in Civ V with the Iroquois and the Americans, but too much work and wouldn’t have fit their vision of the game I guess.

    • there is no easy way to say it, but playing as aboriginal would basically be – just have ten settlers, ten skip the first five hundred turns of the game without doing anything. then watch as an advanced navy settles on your shores.

  • “Australia’s indigenous inhabitants – the ones who actually founded the country”

    Not to be offensive, but that’s just not correct.
    ‘Founding of the country’ was an English affair. There was no indigenous ‘country’ in any real sense of the word

  • Er… indigenous Australians didn’t ‘found the country’. They lived here first, yes, but they didn’t create the country of Australia. That was done by the British Parliament via the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (UK) which was passed on 5 July 1900 and given Royal Assent by Queen Victoria on 9 July 1900.

    • I’ve taken the little passage out. I don’t want to start a quibble on the language, God knows where that might end up. But thanks for the feedback (also @jimmybadsol), I’ve updated the par.

    • Given there are indigenous stories like djarapa made wulgaru which is a tale of the perils of enchanting automatons its entirely possible they are time travellers fleeing the robot uprising. Damn future Australians taking our jobs!

  • But while most of the Australian “civilisation” is fairly authentic, Australia’s indigenous inhabitants – the ones who actually founded the country – are nowhere to be seen.

    To pick hairs, Australia was not founded by indigenous Australians.

  • I’m definitely opening a can of worms here, but what have the Aboriginals done to justify their inclusion in Civ in the first place? AFAIK they weren’t great soldiers like the Romans, they weren’t sailors like the Polynesians, didn’t progress science or technology like the Chinese, didn’t develop mathematics like the Arab world, no great art or diplomacy like the Europeans. Mechanically how would they even work in the game?

    • They couldn’t, the families moved around a lot. They didn’t really settle down anywhere, which makes implementing a city system for them difficult.

      • Yeah I think in Civ V if they’d given them a custom Settler unit which makes temporary (movable) settlements or something like that it could’ve worked but with the district system in Civ VI, I don’t see it happening there.

    • Game mechanic-wise, I imagine they’d get some kind of food bonus when they’re not at war with someone?

      As quoted from http://www.aboriginalheritage.org/history/history/

      “Food was abundant, as was fresh water and shelter. Everything needed for a fruitful, healthy life was readily available. It was not to remain so. The British arrival brought armed conflict and a lack of understanding, which heralded the demise of the northern Sydney clans, along with the other peoples of the Sydney basin – the Dharawal to the south and the Dharug to the west. Food shortages soon became a problem. The large white population depleted the fish by netting huge catches, reduced the kangaroo population with unsustainable hunting, cleared the land, and polluted the water. As a result, the Aboriginal people throughout the Sydney Basin were soon close to starvation.”

    • All of that is true. In terms of answering what justifies their inclusion – they are the longest running civilisation in history. They’e been around longer than anyone else and outlasted other civilisations rising and falling in their time. They have thousands of years of oral stories passed down through generations that still maintain accurate geographical records and lore – e.g. recent geographical studies have revealed submerged islands right where Indigenous stories said they used to be. They are a culture (and I use that term collectively, though the number of individual nations are staggeringly high) that were able to navigate the entirety of the continent via song lyrics like some kind of ancient, real-world Tom Bombadil.

      While I’m here, the notion that they didn’t have any ‘great art or diplomacy’ is an entirely subjective statement.

    • How about: They’ve managed to survive and have one of the longest running cultures despite the fact that the country was trying to make this as hard as possible.

      Yes, we have agriculture in Australia, but it’s almost entirely based on plants and domesticated animals that the European settlers brought from other continents. I say ‘almost entirely’ because macadamia trees are native to Australia, dingoes are a relatively new addition, and there’s now some farming of native species. Given that the native plants and animals were very hard to domesticate, the Aboriginals managed to hang on for tens of thousands of years by staying as nomadic hunter-gatherers.

      Apparently there were some coastal parts of Australia where Aboriginals were starting to develop fisheries and get closer to farming-like cultures, before Europeans came along. Perhaps in a future Civilisation game, it’ll have Indigenous Australia as an option, and it’ll let you work on these areas. Even that would be a can of worms, though, because only a few of the Aboriginal nations would be properly represented.

  • I can’t help think of Rise of Nations.

    It included multiple nations from different periods, so for example the native Americans and the modern American nations.

    I always enjoyed that

    • That was my thought at first. Many, if not all shows on TV that involve voices and/or images of deceased indigenous people will have a warning up front.

  • I agree that if they were to be included they would have to be their own Civ, however the problem being that “Indigenous Australians” covers a lot of different tribes and cultures, and you couldn’t represent them all on one civ.

    I believe one of the other Civ games had the Native Indians which had the same issue as i wrote above, a lot of Native Indians were offended that the designs of character’s didn’t match their tribe.

    Not putting them into the Australia Civ though is the smartest answer, as having them as some sort of primitive unit like some people suggested would have been the worst thing you could probably do.

    • That’s exactly what the MOAR units mod does… adds a token, primitive indigenous sling warrior replacement.

  • “When we were doing our research, we found that their cultures are diverse and rich enough that there was no way to do them justice in the context of the civ we were trying to design.”

    I want to understand this better. I haven’t played civ but I was under the impression that the established cultures in the game were already archetypal and not a deep and diverse representation of those cultures either?

  • Probably because Indigenous Australians were exrremely primative and nomadic, how do you include buildings and weapons that they just didnt have, how do you have them evolve ingame when they never evolved past the stone age? this is less about cultural insensitivity and more about game play

      • both the those civilizations were much further advanced with much more diverse architecture, goverment, farming, mathematics and medicine.

  • Not sure if anyone remembers the outrage surrounding “survival island 3” released around start of January last year? It depicted indigenous australians and received a lot of outrage at the time.
    The game was made by a Russian studio and I felt the knee-jerk reaction to the game was disproportionate and likely to scare off any game developers from including anything about indigenous Australia.
    It looks like it worked. Very sad.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!