A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Democracy 4 is a simulation game available for download on Windows based PCs. Players take on the role of a newly elected president or prime minister of a nation, implementing and adjusting key policies and budgeting to best suit the needs and desires of their electorate. These policies often deal with weighty subject matters, including gun control, racial relations, drug and alcohol restrictions, and the like. Players are also often pushed to make decisions that they may not agree with from a moral perspective in order to appease the masses. The way the game's set up, it's entirely possible that players trying to make the most conscientious decisions could bring their nation to collapse, while more self-serving and questionable policy decisions could lead to success.
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What's it about?
DEMOCRACY 4 is a government simulation game that drops players into the role of the newly elected president or prime minister of a powerful world nation. You've been given the power to implement real change, but how do you plan to use it? Will you take a hardline stance towards law and order, reducing crime but restricting personal rights? Or maybe you'll fight for the environment, but watch as those new guidelines create a sudden rise in unemployment. Each choice and every policy will have both benefits and consequences. Can you maintain the balance long enough to bring about real change, or at the very least to cull enough favor to win re-election?
Is it any good?
Everyone's heard the term "playing politics" before, and this series has let players do that for more than fifteen years now with its government simulation games. Democracy 4 is the biggest, most complex entry in the series to date, boasting new features such as a three party system, options to join and govern as part of a coalition, and the use of emergency powers to bypass the democratic process. There's also a whole host of new and modern policies to track and manage, including racial and transgender rights, legalization of drugs, police use of tasers and body cameras, and more. Underneath it all is a custom-built neural network that's meant to mimic the beliefs and biases of an entire country's worth of individual opinions. There's a lot that goes into trying to manage a democratic nation, and that's the biggest issue facing the game. Simply put, it's information overload.
Democracy 4 isn't a flashy game with CGI cutscenes, a huge story arc filled with character development, or fast-paced action to keep you on the edge of your seat. The bulk of it reads like a massive flowchart, with every available policy and law showing just how any change would affect multiple other categories. It's information overload on a grand scale, challenging players to find some kind of balance among the chaos. What's harder still is that in its drive to be a bias free simulation, it risks becoming morally ambiguous at times. For example, a player needing to raise their popularity with religious conservatives might heavily restrict the rights of the LGBTQ+ community to cull favor. Democracy 4 is a cold, calculated look at the political machine that operates behind the curtain of civility. It feels less like a game and more like what you'd get if you took a masters course in Civics and World Government taught with a Choose Your Own Adventure textbook.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about government and politics. How important is it for people to be informed and active in helping to shape their government? What are some of the differing ways that other nations' governments support or restrain their people?
What are some ways that a decision made in the moment can affect future outcomes? How can seemingly unrelated subjects be tied to one another, and what are some methods people can use to develop stronger decision-making skills?
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding, government, the economy
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, prediction, thinking critically
- Price: $26.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Positech Games
- Release date: October 6, 2020
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Activism, History, Numbers and Letters
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: October 13, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.