Secret Intel Civilization Game

At Reddit, a link to a Civilization 5 trailer produced a comment from user criswell, who claims to have witness a huge Civiliziation (2?) game going on at a Intel cube “fort” in the 1990’s. Assuming this is true, I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this was happening in the 1990’s. Nowadays I wouldn’t think anyone could get away with it.

True Story: (I sure have a lot of these..)
In the late 1990s, I was working at an Intel software development division doing some really early embedded Linux stuff (this was before Intel had any sort of Linux/Open-Source presence, it was kind of trail-blazing for the time). Linux was still fairly new to big companies like Intel, so the entire division I was at (3 floors of cubicles, roughly 300 employees at this location) was 100% Windows based and the sysadmin crew managing us knew nothing about Linux at the time (they regarded all these new Linux people in a very negative light).
Well, this sysadmin crew was kind of crappy. They really didn’t do much to proactively protect their systems and network from threats. Typically at least once a week the entire building would shut down due to some new rampant virus or outbreak. When this would happen, the sysadmins would trundle out of their cubicle fort, grumbling and cross, and deal with whatever fire was going on at the time. They very much practiced “reactionary sysadmining”… which is a style of sysadmining that I’ve never liked… but I digress.
The sysadmin crew numbered ~6 people, and one day I wondered what they did the other 80% of their time.
As I said, they had this cubicle fort, which was located in the middle of the first floor of the building. “Fort” is a very accurate term for what this was. Whereas everyone else had their cubicles setup so that each person would have a mock office, the sysadmins had arranged their cubicles into kind of a club-house with only one way in. They also stacked their bookshelves along the inner-facing cubicle walls to make it virtually impossible for a person of average height to see into their fort. Finally, they had this system of mirrors set up so they could see who was approaching their fort without being seen themselves.
From some small reconnaissance, I discovered there was one external corner of their fort that was outside of their mirror system’s field of vision. Additionally, this corner had the lowest bookshelf in it. I’m a reasonably tall person at around 6 foot 4 inches, and standing on my tip-toes I could peek over this corner. So, one day, I took a look at what they were doing….
All 6 sysadmins sat in front of enormous monitors (bigger than anyone else had in the division we were at) playing a rather huge campaign of Civilization ?? (probably Civ 2, looking at the timeframe, but I could be wrong). They had battle plans scrawled across several whiteboards, and, I kid you not, a table in the middle of the fort with real-world maps marked up with all sorts of crazy strategic planning.
These guys were friggin’ hardcore, yo. Every time I’d walk by their cubicle for the next 6 months, I’d peek in and see them playing this game. I have no idea if it was all part of a single, grand campaign, or if they had a bunch of small campaigns they were playing.
Now, whenever anyone mentions the Civ series to me, I’ll always remember the little Napoleonic sysadmins at an Intel division in the 1990s.


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