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Pros: Captures the complex interrelationships of voters, issues, policies, and political ambitions in a cool interface.
Cons: Sometimes a political strategy goes irreparably off course, leaving the player feeling helpless.
Bottom Line: This is a grown-up civics sim, full of tough choices, compelling cause and effect relationships, and controversial issues that will work best for older government students.
Teachers can use Democracy 3 to provide an experiential perspective on the challenges, functions, and roles of the executive branch. The game also gives teachers and students the chance to formulate hypotheses about government and to test out policies and laws they might draft or propose as part of any study of government. Democracy 3 is also useful for comparing and contrasting the economics, politics, and values of different Western-style democracies such as Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Democracy 3 is a somewhat abstract downloadable government simulation for older students. Players take on the role of president or prime minister in one of several Western democracies. Each turn, players must spend political capital (a tangible resource in the game) to impact or implement policies that influence economics, security, and voter opinion. Popular decisions gain more political capital and keep some voters happy and some members of players' cabinets loyal. Unpopular decisions or compromises that go against voters' or cabinet members' beliefs cost capital. Modeling the delicate tightrope walk of political office, Democracy 3 forces players to balance the economy, social issues, and their own political futures. A cool visual interface and turn-by-turn feedback on choices and their outcomes help students see cause and effect relationships, and plan for the future.
Democracy 3 delivers big ideas and concepts not easily grasped by students via more traditional means, showing how governing involves compassion, compromise, and cost, and how politicians balance their own ambitions and the desires of their constituencies and parties. It digs into controversial issues like health care, immigration, legalized drug use, reproductive rights, and taxation and provides a good platform for further discussion or research projects. However, these issues are only a portion of the larger spectrum. To succeed, students must strategize and balance their re-election bids, manage the budget, and maintain security.