There’s a video game (which I haven’t actually played), called “0 A.D.” It’s a free and Open Source clone of the popular video game “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings” (which I also have never played). It’s a game of ancient warfare, so sadly that’s not Buddhist at all.
It’s not too often that ancient Buddhism gets a chance to appear in a video game, so I felt this was worth a mention. The interesting thing here is that you can play as the ancient Mauryans, as in, the ones led by King Ashoka.
From their “Factions” page:
The Mauryan Empire
Founded in 322 B.C. by Chandragupta Maurya, the Mauryan Empire was the first to rule most of the Indian subcontinent, and was one of the largest and most populous empires of antiquity. Its military featured bowmen who used the long-range bamboo longbow, fierce female warriors, chariots, and thousands of armored war elephants. Its philosophers, especially the famous Acharya Chanakya, contributed to such varied fields as economics, religion, diplomacy, warfare, and good governance. Under the rule of Ashoka the Great, the empire saw 40 years of peace, harmony, and prosperity.
The Mauryans originated in the kingdom of Magadha and were ruled by the Mauryan dynasty, founded by Chandragupta Maurya, between 322 BC and 185 BC. At the time, it dominated the Indian subcontinent and was one of the largest empires in the world.
In 0 A.D. the Mauryans will have many bonuses that match their historic strengths. These include:
- Large Population: A +10% population cap bonus (e.g., 330 instead of 300, 275 instead of 250).
- Long-range Archery: Mauryan archers have the longest range of any archer unit in the game.
- Elephants: Access to 3 different elephant units, including the Armored War Elephant, Elephant Archer, and Worker Elephant, which acts like a mobile dropsite for resources. Wild Elephants are also capturable and give an elephant training bonus when tasked to the Elephant Stables.
- Special Building: Edict Pillar of Ashoka (increased gathering and health for nearby units). Elephant Stables (trains powerful elephant units).
- Special Techs or Bonuses: Emperor of Emperors (+10% Population Cap), Kṣhatriya Warrior Caste, Elephant Roundup (can capture wild elephants for a War Elephant training bonus), Archery Tradition (greater range and attack for archers), Wootz Steel (greater attack for sword units).
- Wonder: The Great Stupa of Sanchi, which houses a relic of the Great Buddha himself.
For those of you who would like to see more historically accurate details back from ancient India, especially those pertaining to Buddhism, the game is Open Source, allowing your contributions. This might be a way to sneak a little Buddhist content into your kids’ video game playing (instead of letting your kids play those other popular, horrifically violent, and spiritually useless games like Cyberpunk 2077, and GTA 5).
Note: this game works in Windows, Mac, or Linux, including Raspberry Pis now.