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Democracy 3: Social Engineering DLC Review: Ich Bin Ein Gamer!

Platform: Windows PC
Developer: Positech Games
Publisher: Positech Games
Release Date: 2/06/14

 

My first three attempts at governing the United Kingdom ended ignominiously; three times I was defeated in the very first election. In the first attempt, my efforts to stamp out organized crime disenfranchised the liberals. In the second, my push towards science outraged the religious. In the third, my taxing of the wealthy drove them, and their businesses, out of the country. Each time I saw a problem crippling my nation – crime, scientific regression, national debt – and in my attempts to deal with it I lost the support of a major section of the electorate.

I’m playing the new Social Engineering DLC for indie politic-‘em-up Democracy 3. Released in October 2013, Democracy 3 was developed by UK-based Positech Games. The UI is sumptuously laid out, with every aspect of your chosen country’s management represented by color coordinated tokens. As you’d expect for a simulation of an entire government, it’s hugely complicated; with dozens of overlapping demographic and psychographic groups to pander to and a vast number of policies that can make or break your government. However, the beautiful UI and the intuitive ways in which it allows you to access complicated data make even the most convoluted policy change not only manageable, but enjoyable too.

 

This is much less complicated than it looks, sort of.

This is much less complicated than it looks, sort of.

 

The Social Engineering DLC helpfully adds a plethora of low-impact policies, which can help an aspiring politician to solve the big problems without going all Gaddafi. These new policies have been specifically designed to have a subtle effect on the population: as an alternative to a junk food tax, which would only anger those in the low earning demographic, the DLC adds a healthy eating campaign. The latter is a low-cost and quick-to-implement way to subtly persuade your citizens that maybe their kids aren’t supposed to be the approximate size and weight of a young walrus after all.

It was in my fourth attempt that I finally stopped trying to play a game, and started trying to run a government instead. I began with the idea that I would never use a high-impact policy when a low-impact one would do. Do I need to deploy police drones? How about some community policing instead? Do I want to raise the drinking age to 21? Why not start an alcohol awareness campaign? On top of this, I would ensure that I balanced each policy change with another one; patriotic citizens didn’t like that I cut military funding, so I implemented stricter border control to counteract the dip in popularity. I’m now past my third election and still going strong. It seems that in politics a light touch makes the most difference; try and forcefully impose your own agenda onto your nation and your campaign will run out of steam like a bad metaphor on a runaway… Er, moving on.

 

See, this is much simpler!

See, this is much simpler!

 

Prospective politicians can choose to take the reins in the USA, the UK, Germany, France, Australia or Canada. However, access to the Steam Workshop has expanded this list with a number of other real world and fictional governments made by community modders. Always wanted to run for Governor of Monkey Island on a pro-voodoo manifesto? Well now you can!

 

The tangled web that connects issue to policy and trend to demographic may be enough to put off a lot of potential players. It’s certainly true that this is a game designed for those of a logical disposition, but get past the initial rush of data and the beautiful simplicity of the UI will pull you in. And then, before you know it, you’ll be balancing policies, appeasing the masses and having affairs like a natural.

A review copy of the game was provided by Positech Games.

 



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