Saturday, February 15, 2014

Democracy on Sale

Democracy the game, that is.

I've never posted about a game before. This is not about my favorite game (that would be the late and much lamented Glitch), nor is it about the game I play the most (that would be Magic: the Gathering in its various forms).

However, this is the first game I've encountered that seemed to have sufficient non-gamer interest to warrant a blog post.

It is, as you might suspect, a game that simulates politics. You get a country with taxes, policies already implemented, policies you might implement, voters with various degrees of commitment to various philosophies and interest groups. And you have to try to keep the country going and make yourself popular enough to get reelected while taking into account that every policy change will have all sorts of consequences, and they're never all good.

You can adjust the philosophy of your voters on two continua: economic (socialist--capitalist) and social (liberal--conservative). You can also adjust the difficulty level, which is good because on the normal setting you start with everyone hating you and a large deficit.

Of course analyzing the accuracy of the simulation is half the fun. Compared to real life, it's way oversimplified. And you never get a chance to get up and explain to everyone why your wonderful policy would be such a great idea (or even make up your own policy, unless you know how to do mods, which I certainly don't).

Still, there's plenty of things that seem pretty accurate. Such as the way *nobody* cares that you balance the budget. I'm so good at balancing the budget, and no one even notices. Except those nasty credit rating bureaus. However, debt spiral is no fun at all. And it's pretty hard to keep the budget balanced and the socialists happy.

There are many various goals to seek, extremes of one policy style or another. This is a lot of fun. "Bwahahaha! I've turned Germany into a police state! I gave everybody school lunches and nobody blinked at the universal wire tapping!" "I've diminished the Canadian military to "ceremonial" status. They don't need a military, do they? Isn't that what the US is for?" (Note: Do NOT try to eliminate the US military. It's too big of a chunk of the economy and the whole country falls apart.)

The people who do know how to create mods have created models for even more countries, such as Greece and Albania. However, for now, it's plenty hard enough to govern Canada and Australia.

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