Twin Cities rivalry part of Civilization III

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The long and friendly rivalry between Centralia and Chehalis, which has come into the spotlight recently as the two towns discuss consolidation of some municipal services, now has a worldwide audience to which Chehalis residents are introduced as barbarians.

Soren Johnson, formerly of Centralia, has incorporated the Twin Cities into Civilization III, a popular computer game that has sold more than 1.5 million units worldwide.

Johnson was co-designer and lead programmer for the game.

"Each of the civilizations players can develop in the game have cities and neighboring barbarian tribes," he said. "We use historically accurate tribes and cities, but in the case of one of the game's civilizations, the Iroquois, we created some cities and tribes because the Iroquois never developed into a full-fledged civilization."

The Iroquois is an American Indian tribe that lived in current-day New York state.

"In Civilization III, one of the city choices for people building the Iroquois civilization is named Centralia, and one of the choices for the barbarians is named Chehalis," laughed Johnson.

"As a Centralia boy, I just couldn't resist."

Johnson said the intentions behind his friendly, personal joke are aimed toward the community of Chehalis, not the Chehalis Indians.

Regarding computer game players across the world becoming familiar with "Chehalis" and "barbarian" as synonymous, Chehalis Mayor Bob Spahr takes it all in stride.

"Well, I kind of think some people do think of us as barbarians, and we think of some of them as barbarians," laughed Spahr. "And most of the time it is all in good fun."

"But what the heck, if this game lets people know we exist, then I think that's good."

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