Adventures in Democracy

Opinion, Video Games

By William Chandler

Having grown up in the United States I naturally know very little about Democracy. Like, what exactly is the deal with the Electoral College and why did I have to pretend it was a joke when I listed it as my safety school? And what better way to learn about a complexly woven set of political ideals than through the video game equivalent of Microsoft Excel? Enter the political pissing contest simulator: Democracy 3.

After choosing the Lord’s favorite nation, the United States of America, I was treated to a tutorial that gave me the basics of what I could expect from running an entire country. This was truly the elevator pitch in action because just like that, the tutorial I sort of skimmed was over and I was left to my own devices. Essentially, everything the President really needs to read or work on is in one giant user interface made up of various bubbles which can be clicked on to reveal information. These bubbles are divided into categories like the Economy, Military, or Crime, which reflect the basics of the information that you can expect them to contain. Some of these bubbles may contain informational graphs and charts about particular topics, like crime rates, that can be willfully ignored in order to better pursue your own political agenda. The real crux of the game comes in the form of the bubbles that contain sliders in addition to the aforementioned charts, which can then be manipulated in order to shake some shit up and see how everyone will react. This is where the real action is.

You also have a cabinet full of humans who will slowly dislike you over time as you make changes to the country, as well as the ability to enact policies, but that shit is for the experts like Ronald Reagan. My America is purely operated by various sliders and irrational one click decision making.

As a mostly middle of the road, slightly left leaning person I decided to tackle primarily social policies first, as that is where I will be able to connect with my people in the most impactful ways. I discovered, however, that you have a form of political currency that allows you to make only a certain number of decisions per turn. The more meaningful decisions naturally cost larger sums of this currency, but you do regain a set amount after ending your turn. Not wanting to waste mine on futile things like taxes or military spending I opted to take the whole year off to accrue as many points as I possibly could.

I wasted no time jumping straight into action upon my eagerly awaited return. My country was hemorrhaging money and crime rates were at an all time high, so naturally I abolished the police force. The cost was clearly too high and the only reason people really commit crimes is to spit in the face of authority anyway, so removing cops from the streets would ensure that no one would feel the need to rebel against the man by robbing a pedestrian or murdering their spouse. Next, I needed to raise national morale and what better way to do that than to get drunk or smoke some of that dank fire kush, you know? I legalized the marijuana because I was tired of having to hide the Presidential stash and then made the legal drinking age like 10 because we all know that being ten years old is like the worst part of your life and those kids really fucking need it.

Then my economic advisor was like “Yo, we need more of that paper” so I decided to pass a bill that would increase oil drilling on our home turf and raised taxes on cigarettes ten fold because people pay anything for that shit. At which point someone must have decided I was doing too great a job because I was assassinated at the hands of some straight up haters.

Democracy is weird, man.

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