Video Game: Hamurabi

This game is the ancestor to Civilization

"HAMURABI: I BEG TO REPORT TO YOU,.."

Hamurabi is a text-based and turn-based video game written by Doug Dyment in 1968 in the FOCAL language under the name The Sumer Game and ported to BASIC by David H. Ahl.

This game then was spread, with other games written in BASIC, by the book BASIC Computer Games, first published in 1973.

In this game, the player had to manage the production of grain of a city, measured in bushels, by allocating some to planting, some to consumption by citizens and the remainder to stocking in silos, which could be attacked by rats; he was also able to buy and sell acres of farmland.

At the tenth year, the player was ranked relative to historical rulers, system which have been later reused by Sid Meier in his Civilization.

This game was a precursor for other management and simulation games.

You can play here and here, the BASIC code source is available here and a C99 port here.


This videogame provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Caligula: If the player caused many deaths by starvation/didn't ensure enough land per person, the game will say, at the end, that "[your] heavy handed performance smacks of Nero and Ivan IV" and that the survivors "hate your guts."
  • Construct Additional Pylons: You might have to buy additional farmland to feed your growing population.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • This game inspired several other management games, such as:
    • Later, the gameplay influenced games such as Civilization and Populous.
    • In the Copper Age of 7 Grand Steps, Step 1: What Ancients Begat, the rulership minigame is a modified version with the same bushels-of-grain-as-currency mechanic.
  • Command And Conquer Economy: You allocate the grain production between stocking, eating and planting.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: The ancient king was named "Hammurabi" but the creator either forgot a 'm' or wanted to keep the name within the eight-character limit.
    "This error has spread far and wide until a generation of students who have used this program now think that Hammurabi is the incorrect spelling."
  • Merchant Prince: Santa Paravia. You're a petty knight and try to win the throne through your successful business dealings.
  • Older Than the NES: First version in FOCAL released in 1969 and BASIC version in 1973.
  • Practical Currency: The bushels of grain produced by your fields can be used to buy additional land.
  • Timed Mission: For many of the games, the goal is to survive a certain number of years without being overthrown by disaster. Santa Paravia, however, plays this straight; you have only a random number of years before you die of old age, and your job is to climb to the top before time runs out.
  • Ur-Example: This game was a precursor for many of the features of the resource management games.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can starve part of your subjects so as to be able to buy farmland or, simply, to be able to not feed useless eaters.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: If your subjects don't get enough food, they will starve and die.
  • You Lose at Zero Trust: If more than 45% of the population starve in a year, the player is deposed and "declared 'National Fink'."
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: If you don't feed your citizens enough, they will revolt and depose you.