Democracy (video game)
Red Marble Games (Mac)
|Publisher(s)||Positech Games, Tri-Synergy|
April 17, 2005
December 7, 2007
October 14, 2013
Democracy is a government simulation game that was first developed by Positech Games in 2005, with a sequel released in December 2007 and a third game in 2013. The player plays as if they are the president or prime minister of a democratic government. The player must introduce and alter policies in seven areas – tax, economy, welfare, foreign policy, transport, law and order and public services. Each policy has an effect on the happiness of various voter groups, as well as affecting factors such as crime and air quality. The player has to deal with "situations", which are typically problems such as petrol protests or homelessness, and also has to make decisions on dilemmas that arise each turn.
After deciding which nation to play as, the player must win the support of various factions which make up the electorate, including the religious, patriots, parents, capitalists, socialists, liberals, conservatives and others, and thus win the ensuing elections that take place. The player introduces policies and uses sliders to change the amount of government funding, level of a tax or generally the law and regulations in that particular area. Of course, because each individual person belongs to several factions (e.g: a Poor Conservative Smoker who is a Patriot or a Rich, Socialist person who is also a Drinker), it is practically impossible to control all the voters. Before each general election, two promises are made by the player to the electorate (e.g: reduce unemployment by 10%). If the player has not kept these promises by the next election, the people become annoyed and cynicism increases.
To make policy changes, the player must spend political capital, which is generated by loyal ministers.
There are also many events, dilemmas and situations in the game which the player must deal with. An example of an event might be the curing of a disease, a dilemma may be who to appoint as a senior judge and a situation may be high levels of pollution. An event happens, sometimes due to policies but the player doesn't take part; they simply profit or suffer from it. A dilemma is an important decision which must be resolved for the turn to be ended and situations are ongoing conditions which must be dealt with or helped and enjoyed.
The games designer has described the code behind the game as being based on a neural network. This has allowed the game to be very easily modded, and most of the 'game logic' in it is openly editable in simple text CSV files, allowing players to change the way the core mechanics of the game operate. A number of mods have been released for both the first and second game in the series, and are generally released on the Positech forum. Mods have included new countries (and real countries for Democracy 2) and the addition of factors such as inflation, as well as enhancement of the voter cynicism factor in Democracy 2.
Democracy is an unusually successful 'indie' game, in that it has sold well despite being made by just one individual as opposed to a large team. Website Game Tunnel scored the game 8/10 overall, stating "losing a game of Democracy is almost as rewarding as winning your next election" and "there is always the motivation to do better next time". The website also awarded Democracy its own 2005 'Simulation Game of the Year' award. About.com rated the game 3.5/5 and said "Democracy does exactly what it sets out to do - get you thinking about how even small changes effect (sic) different groups of people".
Democracy 2, like the first game, is also used by a number of schools, colleges and universities to teach political systems and economics. Positech Games sells reduced cost 'educational site licenses' to schools to encourage this usage of the game. Positech Games has several times expressed a desire to get the game into as many schools as possible, but has only met with indifference in attempts to do so in the UK. The game is also used by a number of other establishments, such as company training seminars. It was also considered for use in political simulation by the US Department of Defense.
A sequel to the game was released in December 2007, which, while very similar to the original in terms of gameplay, differs in that it uses fictional nations (although modders have converted the real nations from the original for play on the new version), and has numerous new features, including party membership, terrorism and real world statistical data. Many of the previously existing features have been enhanced: for example, the amount of political capital needed to change a policy now differs depending on which policy one is changing, and whether one is introducing it, raising it, lowering it, or cancelling it. In December 2008, Democracy 2 won the Game Tunnel "Simulation game of the year" award, something the first game had already achieved. In October 2013, another sequel Democracy 3 was released.
- Voss, Moritz (2005-07-09). "Review by Game Tunnel". Game Tunnel. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Carroll, Russell (2005-12-13). "2005 Sim Game of the Year by Game Tunnel". Game Tunnel. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Marchelletta, Courtney. ""Democracy" Review". About.com. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
- Tri-Synergy press release