Review by Chad Sansing, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013

Executive Command

Sim creates light version of being the President of the United States

Subjects & skills
  • Social Studies

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (7 Reviews)

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Pros: Executive Command gives kids a foundational understanding of what the president does and how the president interacts with Congress, cabinet departments, and other countries.

Cons: Most of the problems facing kids in Executive Command have obvious solutions, so the presidency seems less complicated than it is.

Bottom Line: Executive Command is a good way to introduce the presidency to students, but it lacks economic, political, and moral complexity.

Executive Command is a good simulation to explore in a civics or social studies class. Teachers can have each student play individually or they can split the class into teams. If teachers pair playing Executive Command with directed follow-up about the economic, political, and moral compromises and sacrifices of running the country, this game can be a fun way to introduce the basics of the presidency to older students.

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Executive Command puts kids in the role of president, where they champion their chosen political issues while dealing with bills, diplomacy, and war. After picking an avatar and watching a brief cut-scene, kids guide the president to Congress and pick an issue to focus on during the game. After that, a helpful chief of staff guides the player from task to task. Most of the gameplay consists of reading bills or other communications and deciding what to do –- and where to go –- in response to them.

The action takes place on a stylized map of Washington, D.C., featuring the White House, several cabinet-level departments, Congress, Air Force One’s hangar, and the Washington Memorial. Kids with iCivics accounts can save games in progress and earn achievements, use avatar accessory unlocks, and earn points to vote for civic participation projects on A few times per “year,” players address Congress to drum up support for favorite issues. If Congress gives a president its support, it sends several bills on the president's issue to the White House during the game’s last turn. The rest of the game focuses on signing or vetoing bills, delivering laws to appropriate agencies, accepting or declining diplomatic invitations, and waging war.

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Executive Command is an effective and engaging introduction to the executive branch that gives kids a solid overview of the presidency. However, in working to remain politically neutral to serve middle and high school learners, the game never captures the complexity of governing.

Problems players face have obvious solutions, and decisions offered kids have right and wrong answers. For example, in addressing Congress on education, a player might be given the choice to say something cogent or “I don’t really care what happens to our education system.” The game itself, rather than guiding kids’ critical thinking, just guides play. Sometimes, players can make an “effective” decision without knowing what they did. For example, it’s possible to send the Air Force to a gathering of enemy generals without knowing you had ordered surveillance or assassination.

Executive Command effectively teaches a basic, foundational understanding of the presidency, its roles, and its responsibilities in federal government. However, because many decisions in the game have obvious answers and the mechanics are repeated, the game never quite captures the complexity of governing.

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Teacher Reviews

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Michael G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Bayshore Middle School
Leonardo, NJ
So, YOU want to be President, huh?
I think the rigor and pace are perfect for the simulation. It makes the students think, comprehend, and assess actions. I would like a pause feature so that some students have more time to read the laws, reports, and mails. I think the counter for the term could be revised so that students are more aware of how much time is left in their term. Read full review