Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Democracy 3 - 5/20 hours

I think I have to admit that I don't know what I'm doing. The first time I survived to face reelection in the UK, I got something like 20 percent of the vote, despite improving every aspect of the country's governance. I guess people are just ungrateful. Or maybe I just took the heat for a global economy that sank into the shitter and stayed there. It's hard to say.

I have a theory that if I may be able to survive if I just do popular things and don't worry about the fate of the country, but I'm not sure I have the nerve to try it. I'm sure, in the long run, a failing country would sink my political ambitions, but it would be nice to survive at least one election. I'm finding the UK to be a lot less forgiving than the US, given that it doesn't have a nice, juicy overly-bloated military budget to cut and its taxes are already pretty high.

Seriously, balancing the Democracy 3 version of the US budget took me something like five minutes, and if it weren't for the constant assassinations, I could have completely transformed the country for the better, simply because the amounts being dealt with were so large that I only needed to make small changes to come out ahead. The UK's finances are much tighter, and the game absolutely punishes you for not balancing your budget.

This might be a bit of neoliberal, pro-austerity creditor bias sneaking into the game, but I suspect it's just a gamism. Like the fact that you always start your term with a 10-15% approval rating. As a simulation factor, it doesn't make a damned bit of sense. The whole premise of the game is that I just won a national election. Shouldn't my popularity start at 51 percent?

I think I may have to start engaging with the game as a game and not as a political laboratory. It doesn't seem robust enough to do that. There is almost no sense of coming into the game with a political past. Party politics is virtually nonexistent. Indeed, I thought that playing a parliamentary system would make the united executive and legislative functions seem more natural, but there's nothing in there about forming a governing coalition or shadow cabinets, or any of the nitty-gritty details of actually getting a government to run. The closest thing is your cabinet, and that seems assembled more or less at random.

While I can appreciate the thought that went into coding each country's particular situation into the model, the model itself is merely the statistical approximation of a country, and the game is more about manipulating statistics than it is about anything resembling politics.

Which is fine, manipulating statistics is something I really like to do. But treating Democracy 3 as a game has its downsides - namely, searching online for strategy tips is a freaking mine-field. Imagine all the intensity gamers bring to harmless discussions about art-design and system specifications, and then make the conversation about politics. It's not all bad. In fact, it's mostly good. But every once in awhile, someone drops in to ruin everyone's day.

I think I may be on my own here.

The simulated people of the simulated United Kingdom are in for a rough ride.

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