Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Democracy Now Available From Rampant Games
I get political often enough on this blog, so I guess it's about time I made a game about politics available on the website.
Democracy is the best-selling indie political game by Cliff Harris of Positech Games. In Democracy, you are the newly-elected leader of a major democratic country. You can choose from the United States, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Poland, Australia, Spain, and France, though the demo version restricts you to the U.K. You have a few years to make your mark AND prepare for re-election. Democracy doesn't impose term limits, so you can try your hand at being President or Prime Minister for Life.
It's not easy.
Democracy uses a very sophisticated AI system to model voters (under the hood, it implements a neural network), and even includes such factors as voters cynicism and grudges. In Democracy, it's all about policy decisions and implementation - not re-election campaigns. It's all about how good a job you do running the country (man, what would it be like in the real world?!?) But "good" is a very relative word with so many different voter groups all wanting different things. To make it even more tricky, you've got the same voters belonging to multiple groups. So while you might make the American economy just hum along towards a new era of plenty for all, you are undoubtably going to anger a lot of folks who see you destroying their way of life. You can cut taxes and raise benefits to generate some short-term goodwill, but when the long-term bill comes due you are going to have to figure out how to avoid bankrupting your country.
You'll have to deal with such "quality of life" factors as crime, average lifespan, poverty, Gross Domestic Product, unemployment, and equality. And as far as I can tell, it's not possible to max out all of these factors.
It's all up to you. You can try and be a political idealist and see if you can stay in office long enough to see your country achieve a golden age. Or you can try to avoid rocking the boat and do what you can to become the world's most popular leader. Or you can just experiment and see what could happen if you, say, try and convert the U.S. into a socialist state. However, even the best plans can get snarled as you will be forced to deal with events outside your control.
One story from the game comes from reviewer Mortitz Voss of GameTunnel.com: "In one game, I was the prime minister of Great Britain. I did away with all the silly traditionalist legacies and made it a country where there were only very few unemployed or homeless people, where health care was free and universally available, and whose universities were among the world's best. I carefully worked to reduce alcoholism and drug addiction among the general populace, and I downsized the military and spent that money on education and stem cell research. I cut the national debt in half and still experienced a great surplus of income ... despite massive tax cuts that everybody loved me for. Wait... everybody? Ultimately, two thirds through my second term of office, some patriot nutcase shot me in the chest for betraying our heritage and for not doing what's 'right' for England. Ouch! "
So maybe running a country isn't as easy as it sounds... :)
Oh, and if you are curious, I do not know if the ability to ban video games is currently implemented in the simulation. :)
Democracy was the winner of the "2005 Best Indie Sim Game of the Year" award from GameTunnel.com, and was also voted one of the top ten games of the year. If you haven't tried Democracy out yet, give it a try by checking out the free demo here:
As always, have fun!