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The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Executive Command is an online simulation game requiring kids to handle the executive responsibilities of the president of the United States of America. Kids will do best if they have a basic understanding of the president's duties as a politician, diplomat, executive, and commander-in-chief. Some of the president’s work will seem silly or goofy, and waging war will seem like a benign, sterile experience. Executive Command will work best with adult and peer support in recognizing "good" policies, laws, and decisions from "bad" ones. Kids, teachers, and site supporters can register to participate in social areas of the iCivics site.
What's it about?
EXECUTIVE COMMAND puts players in the president's shoes for a brisk, four-turn term of office. As the president, you must address Congress to drum up support for your chosen issue, sign or veto bills, deliver signed bills to their appropriate federal agencies, and also handle diplomacy and war. Congress will send you several bills per turn for you to review at the White House. Between signing or vetoing the bills and delivering newly passed laws to the departments that enforce them (like the Department of Education), you'll also travel to Air Force One to go on diplomatic missions and to the Pentagon to manage war against a fictional country.
Is it any good?
Executive Command delivers a bright, broad-strokes overview of the president's work. But because the game is meant for both middle and high school, the substance of the president's work seems centrist, neutral, and low-stakes. The decisions that you make are guided more by the game than by your own beliefs or goals. For example, it's always clear which choices the game considers to be "good" and "bad," so you have to play the game looking for the obviously "correct" answer instead of thinking critically.
Making "bad" decisions on purpose doesn't alter the game's trajectory, just the assessment of your performance. Waging war, in particular, seems uncharacteristically easy, simple, and vague. You might find yourself asking the military to act without knowing if you've asked for surveillance or an attack. Consequence, in general, rarely shows up in Executive Command outside of the scores you receive for "good" and "bad" decisions.
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For kids who love politics
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.