The legendary developer’s new memoir brought back poignant memories of one of his most famous games—and of the hours I played with my dad.

According to Sid Meier, the answer is simple: because its fun. In his new autobiography, Sid Meiers Memoir! A Life in Computer Games, Meier expresses his frustration with video game hyperrealism:
If real life were that exciting, who would need videogames in the first place? The flight simulator genre, especially, was forever clamoring for more dials to watch, more flaps to control, more accurate wind speed and wheel friction calculationsand no one seemed to notice that it had turned into work. Games werent supposed to train you to be a real pilot; they were supposed to let you pretend for an hour that you could be one if you wanted to. It wasnt escapism if you didnt actually get anywhere.
Anyone who has ever played a game in the Civilization series is likely already familiar with this ethos, because it plays out there too. Sure, there are other empire-builders out there that are more detailed, more involved, more realistic, but Civilization (for me, at least) manages to strike the perfect balance between simulation and fun. 
In recent years weve seen a lot of games that, while impressive in many respects, are a little light on pure entertainment and heavy on realism or grimdark world-building. Watch Dogs: Legion and Death Stranding are the first that spring to mind. 
Perhaps Sid Meiers games have such enduring appeal because theyre designed in a way that never loses sight of their primary goal: creating a fun and engaging play experience. Of course, video games have incredibly rich potential to explore gritty themes and showcase the latest technological advancements, but in my experience, when forced to choose between that and fun, players will pick fun every time, and the best games dont force the player to choose. 
It was Baudrillard who said we live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning, and if we conveniently ignore the fact that Baudrillard might consider Sid Meiers games an order of sorcery, this sums things up pretty nicely. Pirates! is heavy on the meaning: It focuses on delivering an engaging swashbuckling experience without being cast adrift by unnecessarily arduous game mechanics.
The rest of Sid Meiers autobiography is enlightening, interesting, and an overall feel-good read. From his early efforts coding games on his home computer and selling them to local electronics stores to the massive success of Civilization, it is obvious that Meier has remained down-to-earth, in good humor, and above all, passionate about making video games. The book is brimful of nostalgic references, funny stories, and game design anecdotes, so theres something for everyone. The release of this memoir might be interpreted as the winding down of a lengthy career, but Meier is quick to reject that.