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, patriotic, 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.
The player must also try to balance the budget and pay off the country's debts without losing votes and causing tax evasion due to very high taxes.
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 however 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.
Release and reception
The original game was released in 2007 in the United States by Tri-Synergy, with added events and policies, and a special mode in which the player controls a fictional nation. The game received "mixed" reviews, according to game aggregator Metacritic. 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 3 also received "mixed" reviews, according to Metacritic. While Polish magazine CD-Action stated that the game "does much more for understanding democracy than any citizenship lesson," Daniel Schindel's critical review for Unwinnable noted several inaccuracies concerning the in-game effects of imposing death penalty, legalizing drugs, and strong labor laws. A spin-off game, titled Democracy 3: Africa, was quietly released in early 2016. The game focused entirely on nations on the continent of Africa and added features to address the corruption, authoritarianism, military dictatorships, and female genital mutilation that is abundant on the continent. Players are tasked with fixing these issues, or regressing further into a dictatorship.
In midsummer of 2018, Positech Games announced that it would release an updated version of the game, in the form of Democracy 4. While a specific release date has not been presented, the official website declares that the game will be published in 2019. This title, as with the spin-off, Democracy: Africa, will be produced by a joint venture between Positech Games and Stargazy Studios. In addition to Democracy: Africa, Stargazy previously provided translation and localization services for Democracy 3. New features added to Democracy 4 will include simulated corruption, crackdowns on political freedoms and free speech, and even authoritarianism. Events and decisions in the game will be updated to reflect the passage of time between the release of Democracy 3 and Democracy 4.