Democracy 3 Articles RSS Feed | Democracy 3 RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Just How Accurate are Political Simulation Games? Thu, 22 Dec 2016 15:00:01 -0500 Justin Michael

Over the years I’ve played a number of strategy and simulation games. I’ve been a big fan of them since the early days of playing The Sims and my first experience with games like Age of Empires and the Civilization series of games. More recently, though, I’ve tried my hand at Democracy 3, a political simulation game from Positech Games.

Democracy 3 is unlike any other sim game that I’ve played before, which is neither good or bad. In fact, I’m not quite sure what to think of it really. Up until this game I’ve enjoyed the notion that I’d be a great armchair politician. Democracy 3 has not only changed that opinion but was likely a good indicator that I’d be a really shitty leader for a country and should probably stick to my day job. With that realization, I couldn’t help but wonder just how accurate are these political simulation games?


A brief rundown of the game

To explain Democracy 3 simply the game is a turn-based game where you can only perform a certain number of actions within a single turn. After each turn, a quarter of the year goes by and events happen, ranging from International Financial crises and conflicts to controversial decisions that must be made like foreign aid or national security issues. These decisions are not something that you can make without giving thought to because you'll have to keep in mind that every decision you make, every policy you adopt, is scrutinized by some member of some interest group. Democracy 3 is a game built around balance and it's not always easy to keep the balance since everything in the game is connected to something else. 

Let's say you decide to raise the legal drinking age, to help in your campaign against alcoholism. We'll now you just pissed off the Youth because you took away their fun. This will lead to a loss of their support and likely a bit more in the way of crime which sounds pretty true to life when people are told that they can't do something.

Put a ban on GMO crops? Well, now the farmers are mad because you're cutting into their paycheck. And let's say you're truly mad and decided to cut veterans benefits and military spending. Now you're looking at widespread outrage among the conservatives and the patriots. To me, these are very valid responses we'd see and have seen, in real life to similar issues. 

Democracy 3 even takes things into account such as interest groups, a person's likelihood to vote, and how politically active they are. There is a myriad of charts and graphs for virtually every aspect of play and tons of content from focus groups. 

Even when I thought I was doing well, and even had the majority support, I still managed to lose my reelection because not enough people turned out to the polls. While you could argue that there is some tweaking to be done with some of the maths behind the scenes, this is a very sound simulation and I feel as though I learned a bit about the struggle behind being in charge of it all. 

Final Verdict

You'll never be able to please them all and you'll never be able to get everyone to become a progressive, utopian society. The best that you can do is to try to steer them towards the greater good and hope you don't end up on everyone's shit list. 

This is a fun game, with fun mechanics, about a job that is less than fun. It's stressful trying to lead from the front while keeping your promises and the budget out of the red but if it were easy then what would be the point?

What's your opinion on Democracy 3? What aspects of gameplay do you like the most? How long have you been able to remain in office? Let's talk about it in the comments below!


Running an Election Campaign with Democracy 3: Electioneering DLC Sun, 24 Jul 2016 17:45:08 -0400 ESpalding

When I received word that GameSkinny had received a review code for Positech's Democracy 3's latest DLC Electioneering, I jumped at the chance to do it. I've written a few articles about this game so was familiar with the premise, and it had already piqued my interested. Released on July 8th, Electioneering joins an already impressive set of DLC for Democracy 3 including Social Engineering, Extremism and Clones and Drones and sees players running their own election campaign.

Democracy 3 itself is a political simulator in which you play the part of an elected official, and you must control all the policies and the economy of your chosen country. You can choose from 6 different countries, which all have their own statistics and political preferences, and 28 different political parties from liberals to right-wing conservatives. You control all the policies which could affect 21 social demographics as well as making sure your countries GDP and economy don't run into the red. You want to aim to make it through each term to get re-elected and not get assassinated.

Now then, I consider myself quite a clued up person when it comes to politics but when faced with all the options and policies that this game presents you with can be a little overwhelming. It is not a game for the faint-hearted. To get to the main bulk of the new DLC, you have to survive a number of turns without getting assassinated by one group or another. I got assassinated a lot in the games I played for this review so only managed to get to the majority of the new material a couple of times. With this in mind, I'm going to go ahead and presume that you, the reader, have already played the basic Democracy 3 game and are just interested in the new content.

The Electioneering content covers four main areas:

  • Your Manifesto - this looks at the pledges (promises) that you make to your people in the run-up to an election. A candidate can only make these promises once, and they form part of the foundation for people's reason to vote you in for another term. During the game, you make your pledges one turn before the election takes place,
  • Speeches - these come in the form of basic sound bites and have a direct effect on your popularity in various social groups,
  • Fundraising - How much money your donors are contributing to your campaign,
  • Perceptions - This is all about how you are perceived by the people. Do they see you as trustworthy? What about compassionate? Through this tab, you can perform media stunts which will increase or decrease how the electorate see you as an individual.

Even though the DLC only focuses on those four areas, it is extremely taxing to keep everything balanced and not everything is guaranteed. For example, each media stunt has a success rate. If it works, then fantastic. But if it fails, your stats are strongly affected. The fundraising element is connected to the donors and which social group they sympathize with. For me, this is where the DLC and the base game are the most strongly linked because you have to make sure that you're keeping the groups satisfied to improve the donations you are receiving.

The thing that gets me the most about this DLC, and indeed the whole of Democracy 3, is the level of research and knowledge which has been poured into it. Cliff Harris, the CEO and one-man dev behind the game, has looked extensively at many political systems from around the World and put it together in a cohesive simulator which is not only challenging but extremely educational. I wouldn't be too surprised if this game made its way into political studies classes in schools. It is that realistic!

The user interface is very easy to use and extensive. You can click on almost anything which takes you to something else that it is connected too. Even though I say that it is easy to use, learning about what goes where and exactly how things are connected is what will take you the most time to come to terms with. To get to the point where I survived long enough without being assassinated for there to have been a vote took about eight games or 3 hours, but to get to the point where I did everything right to gain favor with the majority of the electorate to win the vote took in total 7 hours!

All in all, Electioneering is a very good addition to Democracy 3. If you are into politics and simulations, then this is the game for you. I can't find much fault in the DLC itself apart from the steep learning curve you have to go through to get there. You will devote a lot of time getting to grips with working out what taxes need to be raised here or what grants need to be given there to reach the point where the election content starts.

If you fancy giving it a go, Democracy 3 and all its DLC are available on the Positech website or via Steam. Check out the Democracy 3 trailer below to see if it whets your appetite.





New Democracy 3 DLC, Electioneering, Announced Tue, 07 Jun 2016 17:50:40 -0400 ESpalding

Today the creators of Democracy 3, Positech Games, announced a new DLC heading our way. It is called Electioneering and will be about running your own elections. The new content takes a deeper look at the way the voting works in Democracy 3 and lets you run your election campaigns using a load of new and exciting tools.

Speaking on the company's blog, CEO and game designer Cliff Harris expressed the difficulties in creating an election system for Democracy 3 given that there are lots of different countries in the game, each having their own electoral processes.

"I decided to take a few key areas of the election process, the ones that seemed universal, and model those, whilst letting the actual ‘mechanics’ of how an election is fought to remain abstract."

The key elements of Electioneering will include arranging and running fundraising activities, making addresses and speeches, setting out what it is that you intend to do if you are elected in manifestos and what perceptions you give the voters.

There is no confirmed date for the release of the DLC, but Positech estimates that it will be available late July 2016 and will be for PC and OS X. There is already a page on Steam for anyone wishing to add the DLC to their wishlist.

Time to get political with Democracy 3 Fri, 18 Mar 2016 06:37:39 -0400 ESpalding

Just when you have had enough of building cities and making sure everyone is happy, Democracy 3 swoops in and offers you the chance to take things one step further, taking control of all aspects of governing your own country.

Released back in October 2013, this is the third installment in UK-based Positech's Democracy series. The game is a government simulator which takes an in-depth look at all the politics and policies behind all aspects of modern-day democracy.

The game doesn't rely heavily on graphics, but instead presents a beautiful and clean user interface full of sliders and information about each variable. You'd be right in thinking, however, that the game itself isn't very easy and may take some time getting a grip on everything that needs to be done.

When you have to take into consideration laws, policies, voters, trade relations, internal affairs and budgets -- and making them balance out at the same time -- Democracy 3 becomes very in-depth and immersive. Depending on which country you decide to represent, the game faithfully recreates actual differences between government types. For example, the differences in length of time your Prime Minister or President can stay in office, or even whether your country is a socialist country or capitalist.

I find this kind of game fascinating -- not just because you get to pit your wits against an AI public, but it is also very educational. If you have any interest in politics or economy, then you really should take a look at this game (if you haven't already, of course). But be careful, because if you get it wrong, things will go downhill very quickly and one of two things will happen: you will either lose the next election or you'll be assassinated.

Democracy 3 can be purchased from Steam or directly from Positech at £18.99 for the basic game with DLC and expansion available to purchase as well. It is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.