VGR2: Democracy 3

Greetings friends and readers..

This is a 15 – 20 minute read. It has been a while since I’ve posted a blog post.
The last month and especially the last two weeks was just a horrendous time for studies and life. I’d like to talk about that in a future self-reflection entry. As always, I’m sincerely grateful to everyone for supporting me and giving encouragement for me to continue.

To ease myself back, I’ve decided to write a video game review. Noted, the games chosen tend to be something that players not only enjoy but learn from them about themselves and the world around them.

The game I’m reviewing is called Democracy 3 and its African expansion, created by Cliff Harris. Both of these excellent games are a political simulator. You take charge as leader of your country after just winning the election. Do you have what it takes to lead your country towards a progressive future or will you doom it? This game gives you the opportunity.

As the African expansion is a more advanced version with better integrated features, I would focus more on it rather than the original.

Here’s the launch trailer for Democracy 3: Africa

Here’s a Youtube video showing how the game plays out.

Without further adieu, let’s begin.

a) Introduction

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it..”
~ François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire

After installing the game, you’ll find yourself at the game menu. Both the original and expansion features amazing music that adds to the immersion of the game. There are the main themes soundtracks and situation soundtracks: very bad, bad, neutral, good and very good. This depends on how well you are managing your country.

Next, the 3 notable features are the political compass, mods and achievements.

The political compass displays how your country (and by extension, yourself) is in terms of two dimensions: Capitalist – Socialism; Liberal – Conservatism.

The mod section shows the list of mods that you have installed. Unlike most games, Democracy 3 is mod friendly whereby anyone can create events, policies and additionally features for the game, simulating events such as the Greek debt crisis, the United States of America at the time of the 2008 economic recession, South Africa’s current political situation and more. Of note, three official mods have been released by the game creator

The next are the achievements.

It challenges players not only to play a single style but many styles. Do you want a purely religious country or do you want a country that fulfills Darwin’s legacy where science and rationality dominate? Would you rather have a socialist paradise or a capitalist free market ideal realized? It is up to you.

So, next is the new game area. When you choose a new game, you first need to choose the country you want to play. In Democracy 3, you could play America, UK, Germany, France and other countries. In the African expansion, you play mainly African countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt etc. However, a huge difference is that each country runs differently with different events or situations unlike in the original game where the countries are more or less the same (with the exception of how you start such as population, economic performance in terms of GDP and so on).

Next, you set how long is your presidential term and how long each term lasts. In the African expansion, you even have the opportunity to step down (for real based on the legislation that you have set down)..

Additionally, you can name your political party as you like or use the names given or set the political situation to make things more interesting. These factors usually do not make or break a game (though if you do adjust the difficulty, prepare to be challenged) Once you’re ready, game on!!

So when you first take over your country, it is in a horrible condition. There are 10 areas you would want to observe and improve on:

  1. GDP
  2. Health
  3. Education
  4. Unemployment
  5. Crime
  6. Poverty
  7. Budget Report
  8. Polls Report
  9. Cabinet Report
  10. Security Briefing / Threats

For GDP, health and education, you would want to get it as high as possible while you want to get unemployment, crime and poverty the lowest.The budget report tells your country’s financial situation (which will be explained shortly) while the polls report tells you what percentage of voters would vote for you. To win an election, you need at least 51%. Meanwhile, the cabinet report tells you about your cabinet’s loyalty and effectiveness. For security briefing or threats, your security intelligence agency will inform you of terrorist groups that pose serious threats to your country’s security (including to your life as leader of the country. Assassination attempts do happen)

Here’s an example of what your country should have:

Additionally, events (both good and bad) can happen. Good events could be a Nobel Prize award or your country’s credit rating being upgraded. Bad events include political unrest, class warfare, high levels of stress in your country, bombings, airplane crashes and more.

Lastly, random and insightful quotes by famous (or infamous) individuals can be found below (I personally feel they are excellent touches to the game)

Now, on to managing your country!!

b) Gameplay and Mechanics

Democracy 3 and its expansion has a steep initial learning curve (I recommend playing the original Democracy 3 as it is more forgiving and welcoming to beginners. I started from there and even as a veteran player,  Democracy 3: Africa was very challenging).

At a glance, this is very intimidating and complex. I assure you, after the first playthrough, it’ll all make sense.

There are four types of circles which are:

  1. White (Policies implemented)
  2. Blue (Areas of interest such as employment rates, democratic freedom etc.)
  3. Green (Something good like high technology, mineral wealth etc.)
  4. Red (Something bad like rampant crime, HIV / AIDS, asthma epidemic etc.)

If you scroll our mouse cursor over a circle or area, you’ll see how they are all interrelated. This then allows you to understand what are the impacts of the circles on a certain area (this includes your policies and you can plan what your next move is)

The green and red arrows positively and negatively respectively affects something, while I’m not too sure what the black arrow represents.

Additionally, you need to take care of your citizens. Some citizens will respond positively to some policies. Others will hate it and even denounce your government, refusing to support you or just want to kill you.

Next, you need to choose your cabinet. Though you can begin the game with your current cabinet, it is better to reshuffle the cabinet to achieve an optimal result and to fit your playstyle as different cabinet members have different sympathies, whereby your policies can make them satisfied or dissatisfied. More satisfied ministers have better effectiveness (thus yielding more political capital which allows you to do more policies or change policies) while oppositely, you get less political capital or even have ministers resign. Additionally,  leader capital comes from having authoritarian power.

Then you can choose your policies. Policies cost political capital. You would want to take policies that have low implementation time, low costs and are popular with voters. Popularity of voters towards different policies changes over time as the voter population evolves (Ex: More liberal citizens means more popularity towards freedom policies)

You can even add controversial policies like the death penalty, stem-cell research, a state religion, religious laws, graduate tax, emphasis on learning system towards either a theist or all evolution view etc. Again, its up to you how you want to rule the country.

Next is your expenditure and income pie charts. The above shows where your country’s budget is being spent on. Likewise, another pie chart shows your income and where much of it comes from (such as Income Tax, Corporate Tax, Carbon Tax etc.).

Additional charts shows your country’s financial status alongside the global economy, everything a country’s leader needs to oversee the country.

Moreover, there is a list of all policies implemented and their popularity. Above, there are other areas that I will leave it up to players to explore and understand.

Moving, when you click on a policy, say military spending, you have the options of changing the intensity of the said policy. For instance, here it is set at highly trained. Higher levels promise better results but causes downward effects such as liberals being unhappier. Meanwhile, upward effects include patriots and state employees being happy due to the country improving its military and more government or state job openings.

Pic 4B - South Africa (Term 1)

Lastly, is the election. You play per turn using the political capital you have. Then, next turn, you gain more political capital to use for that turn or you can keep some political capital to be used the following turn. Regardless, you have limited turns to win voters and change your country’s situation. As stated, you need a majority win. If you fail, you will lose the game. If you win, you continue ruling as the country’s leader for your next turn. Thus, this sums up most of the gameplay elements of Democracy 3.

c) Conclusion

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
~ Plato

My personal opinion is that, this is one of the best games anyone must play. Simple to play and everyone of all ages can get into it, it offers an intelligent yet down-to-earth experience in what it means to govern a country. However, I only say this based on the fact this is the first political simulator I’ve ever played (not including the Civ Series)

The following remarks were made by a school teacher that I similarly echo, in that putting this game to be used in education is a wonderful idea and teaches students their political views while understanding what it means to govern a nation at many levels.

Here’s the link:

http://www.justpressstart.net/democracy-3-from-a-teachers-perspective/

So, that’s all for this video game review. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did. There are many parts of the game I have not explained as to do so would spoil the experience of playing it. Heck, even I don’t know everything. I’ve even come across new events by playing different styles.

Here’s the official website for Democracy 3: Africa:
http://www.positech.co.uk/democracy3/africa/

If you like the game, please support the developer by buying his games and spreading word of it around. Same with all the games I’ve reviewed. I might add more thoughts on this game in a future addendum.Thank you for reading and your support. Till the next post.

Signing off
~ Sol


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