The game is Emperor, by Impression Games, a division of the now-defunct Sierra Games, which, back in the day, was the company that produced several series of third-person adventure tales that got me into the whole world of gaming. Such titles included Space Quest, King's Quest, Hero's Quest, Police Quest and the illicit and far-too-mature Leisure Suit Larry.
The Impression Games roster, however, consisted of an entirely different collection of games from the linear storytelling point-and-clicks (or type and enter, as the case may be). I bought their first title, Pharaoh, in the late nineties. The ancient Egyptian city-building game was all about civil engineering, laying down roads and buildings, farms, infrastructure, temples, entertainment districts, military strongholds, monuments and more. It required a infinite amount of patience and a fine sense of control. It was all about micromanaging the lives on the hapless citizen from beyond--just the kind of game a control-freak writer might enjoy.
Impression followed the success of Pharaoh with similar city-building games: Caesar, set in ancient Rome; Zeus, set in ancient Greece, and finally Emperor, set in ancient China. (I own 3 of these four games, plus the expansion packs.)
Emperor is by far my favorite, not only because it resonated with my cultural background, but because of the spectacular graphics and colors. Don't get me wrong, I love Roman and Greek architecture, but gray, cream and white buildings get boring after a while.
I'm not sure how long this game-playing jag will last--evidently, with my self-imposed NaNoExMo, I'm finding the need to relax and let my brain rest now and again. I'm still polishing my YA novel, and I'm plodding on at a slower pace with my next "Five Elements" book (my MMA fighting series). Next week I'm on vacation, which, if history has served as any indication, means I'm going to get a whole lot of writing done.
For now, however, I am going to keep building China one city at a time...