Simulating tribal island economies

I’ve just started reading Gun, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and was particularly interested by the description of how various Polynesian islands developed. As with pretty much everything these days, I wondered how I could simulate such a situation, perhaps making a game out of it (there must be a computer game that is based on this time and place – something like The Settlers).

  • In the beginning there would be a few settlers, arriving by canoe at an island with a few stone tools.
  • Settlers would feed themselves initially by hunting and gathering.
  • Plants could be domesticated to allow arable farming.
  • Animals could be domesticated for farming (e.g. pigs), hunting (e.g. dogs) and warfare (e.g. horses – not Polynesian, but that only served as inspiration).
  • The ability to store food would allows some tribal members to work on other tasks, such as building, soldiering, creating more tools, inventing etc..
  • Inventions might include fish hooks, weapons, tribal dress, boats, writing etc..
  • The ability to store food would also allow certain tribal members to accumulate wealth and power.
  • The more power, a leader has, the better people can be organised (or maybe the greater the waste on giant stone heads etc.), and the more far-reaching the power, so more people can belong to a tribe before it fragments.

This is all far too ambitious and complex for me to actually achieve any time soon, so maybe I’ll just have to play Civilisation or Age of Empires. One day, I might would a very simple simulation of a society/economy, perhaps in this setting.

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