Executive Command

Website review by
Chad Sansing, Common Sense Media
Executive Command Website Poster Image
Quick, feel-good tour of the presidency.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn about the job of the President of the United States. They can also learn about the President's role in law-making and the responsibilities of different federal agencies that enforce the law. Executive Command teaches a lot about what the President does, but little about how the President must deliberate over decisions.

Positive Messages

Branches of Power paints a portrait of the president as a highly competent and effective politician, executive, diplomat, and commander-in-chief. Playing the game, you get the feeling that government works in a fair and orderly way.

Violence

The player must manage a war in Branches of Power, but there is no description of violence or casualties in the game. After picking a branch of the military to deal with each wartime scenario, the player is merely informed if he or she made an effective decision or not.

Sex

There is no sex depicted in the game.

Language

There is no inappropriate or hurtful language in the game.

Consumerism

There is no branding in the game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There are no depictions of drinking, using drugs, or smoking in the game.

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.

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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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about civic participation and what they look for in a president.

  • What kinds of personal traits does a leader need to handle many responsibilities -- and serve many people -- at once?

  • Why do people have different ideas of "good" and "bad" rules?

Website details

For kids who love politics

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