Monday, February 6, 2017

Democracy 3 - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)
Have you ever wanted to be president? or prime-minister? Convinced you could do a better job of running the country? Let's face it, you could hardly do a worse job than our current political leaders.

Crime, Unemployment, National Debt, Terrorism, Climate Change...Have you got the answers to the problems that face western industrialized nations? Here is your chance to find out...

An entire virtual country
Democracy 3 simulates the motivations, loyalties and desires of everyone in the country. A custom-designed neural network is used to model individual voters, each which varying memberships of voting groups, political parties and pressure groups. Each voters income is modeled, along with their levels of complacency and cynicism. This is the most sophisticated political strategy game ever created.

Unique user interface
Despite being vastly detailed under-the-hood, Democracy 3 has a unique user interface that makes visualizing the connections between laws, policies, voters and situations easy. A simple iconic-based view of your countries issues allows you to 'drill-down' through all the relationships between policies and voters to quickly analyze the impacts of your decisions. Your trade policy may affect GDP, which will affect unemployment, which will effect poverty, and thus crime, leading to a change in tourism, which affects GDP...

Complex simulated voters
Each individual voter is a mixture of a subset of the 21 different voter groups represented within the game. They might be a young, wealthy, liberal socialist commuter, or a retired conservative religious capitalist, for example. Not only this, but the extent to which they identify each of those groups is both variable, and can be affected by your policies in the long term. Convert your country to religion, or atheism, to capitalism, or socialism by careful and nuanced adjustment of your policies and laws over time. A 'focus group' feature lets you look at individual voters and see exactly how they came to a decision to vote for you (or not!).

Previous Playtime
39 minutes

What Was I Thinking When I Bought This
It was a menu-driven strategy game with an unusual hook and I was in the middle of a buying spree. I liked the concept of managing a whole country and tackling real-world problems, and, of course, when anything comes bundled with DLC, it gets my attention.

Expectations and Prior Experience
 I futzed around for about a half-hour, messing with policies and trying to change the US into a socialist utopia, but I screwed things up something fierce. I think it was probably just a matter of me trying to do too much too fast, but I'm wary of the game's underlying political assumptions. Not necessarily in a sinister way, just that even if it's trying to be neutral, if you try to model something, you have to make choices about how to describe its constituent parts. And in the real world, when it comes to something as complex as politics, describing its parts is ideologically fraught.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see. My goal will be to try and suss out the game's algorithm and see if its complex enough to offer multiple valid paths.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't manage to play this for more than an hour or so. I pursued enlightened policies and screwed up Britain rather fierce.