Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Democracy 3 : simulating the private sector

Sooo… One of the drawbacks of Democracy 2‘s model was that it only really accounted for public sector pensions, housing, schools and hospitals. This was unrealistic and I’m fixing it in Democracy 3. In D2, if the state didn’t provide schools, people were illiterate. You don’t need to be Ron Paul to be convinced that it isn’t as clear-cut as that. So how am I planning to fix that?

Democracy 3 has policies (things the player chooses to implement, or not, and adjust) and also ‘simulation values’, just like D2 did. A simulation value is basically a statistic, something that arises out of the simulation and which you have zero control of. Pollution levels are one example. Literacy (a catch-all for general educational level) is another. In Democracy 2, a player couldn’t change the literacy level, but they could implement various state policies that would indirectly affect it, like state schooling.

Democracy 3 has the literacy level stat, and also a private schools stat. By default, private schools are at a certain level (tied to GDP, and therefore the general level of wealth), and they have the same effect (roughly) on literacy as state schools do. However, they have effects public schools don’t, such as a reduction in lower and middle incomes. This is because those values represent ‘disposable’ incomes for those groups, and having to pay for private schools eats into that. The truly wealthy laugh off mere school fees, so it’s not an issue for them. Also, unlike state schools, the private schools don’t reduce inequality, or boost state employees and trade unions, and they keep capitalists, rather than socialists happy.

icons_privateschools icons_stateschools

Now let’s revisit state schools. they work exactly as they used to, except they have an effect on private schools. The more you spend on public schooling, the less private schools there are. In effect, the better the state schools are, the less people are prepared to empty their pockets for private education, which makes sense.

So hopefully, the net result of this is a system where either approach (laissez faire or state intervention) can get you decent schooling, but you have to pick how to handle it. The state schools have to be paid for, which will mean cuts elsewhere or higher taxes. The private schools are paid for by people direct, but they can cause problems of inequality (with knock-on impacts on crime etc), and the people will need more money left in their pockets to pay for it (lower taxes). To further enhance the whole area, I could introduce policies which gave tax-credits for private education, which would allow me to keep private schooling afloat during a recession. Maybe a system of state scholarships could reduce inequality and compensate for private schools as the only option? (technically this is tricky).

Obviously this is a VAST simplification of the real world, but I think it’s far closer to reality than the Democracy 2 system. My plan has pensions, housing and healthcare working the same way.


17 thoughts on Democracy 3 : simulating the private sector

  1. Would you be interested in modelling Home-schooling? That’s apparently a thing, too.

    Actually, that brings to mind a larger question – will you be modelling goods/services provided outside of the “formal economy?” The most stereotypical example is that of the housewife/househusband, who provides a large value through their work, but since it’s not bought and paid for with money-dollars, it doesn’t show up in GDP or taxes.

  2. Overall I like the idea.
    I do have a question about D3, though. Would it be possible to implement a proper political parties system into the game? I know this would make the game much more complicated to code, but I was always a bit frustrated that in D2 losing an election was game over.

    You could add in interesting political dynamics too. For example, if you are running a right-wing government and your main oponent starts to become more right wing then if enough people get upset by the right wing parties then a third party might form which is left wing.

    You could also have a situation where if you lose an election then another party takes over for a while. When you get back into power you will have to sort their mess out.

    The other thing that bothered me a bit obout D2 was how you could implement policies if you had enough points (I can’t remember what you called them). It would be cool to have a proper parliament that has to vote on decisions, which could link into the partys system above.

  3. I think this sounds like a really positive step forward, and will definitely help.

    On the subject of schools, I think it would be nice to have slightly more diverse and realistic levers. It doesn’t have to be tonnes, but deciding how much money is spent on teacher training and what the compulsory participation age is and to what degree schools are allowed to be selective of their pupils are all more interesting questions that choosing how many billion I spend on schools to make them better or worse, and how more interesting outcomes. Lots of selective schools might help foster the best and brightest, but also lead to lower equality, for example. From my experience so far in the Department for Education, it’s very rarely a case of ‘spend more money and it gets proportionally better’ :P I know some of this exists with things like the Faith school subsidies and Free School Meals (although I think FSM is a super British thing), but it would be nice to see more of the current state school lump sum divided out, or other less money focused but very important policies brought in.

    Another step removed, but also related to schools and healthcare and such, one thing I think that would be interesting and probably not that complicated (he says with no real idea if that is true) would be implementing a population age profile. The government concerns and priorities of a very old population are obviously different to that of a very young one, and especially if the population shifted as you played (as games span numerous years) it could present some interesting variety.

    Also, finally, very excited for Democracy 3. The Democracy series is my favourite of yours.

  4. Also, re:home schooling, given the relatively small numbers and form of the education, I think it could be generally considered a form of privatized education. It takes money out of the pockets of the parents involved because they can’t work, and it takes the burden off of the state, so would be modeled the same way described for the private schools.

  5. Hmm very true that policies like the old UK grammar schools, or the opposite, where all abilities are crammed together, could prove interesting in terms of equality, although I’d have to state flat out whether or not splitting out higher ability students would lead to a specific effect such as higher education (literacy in the game).

  6. If you’re interested in the effects of streaming (dividing pupils by ability), there’s a plethora of evidence, and a number of articles written that summarize findings. I think TES has at least a couple of articles that look at it.

  7. One of the features I would like to see in D3 is more options within each policy.

    Instead of just one slider for each, multiple options in some would be a welcome addition. Take state school policy for example, you could have various sliders.

    1) Teachers salaries: setting this too low may result in strikes/teacher shortages, so bigger class sizes possibly reducing literacy. Default value 50%
    2) School maintenance/building: Small/big class sizes, poor/good facilities, angry/happy parents and teachers. +/- effect literacy. Default value 50%
    3) Extra funding: Increases literacy from gifted students. Default Value 0%

    Not as detailed as I would have liked, but I hope the general idea is there. I’m sure there are numerous options that could be implemented for different policies.

  8. Two words: Coalition governments.

    Ruling the country as the head of the capitalist party when half of your cabinet seats were promised to the socialist party make for endless fun/frustration.

  9. Imagine this cliffski, you’re an imagineer, imagine this thing. You’ve lost the election, game over, but wait now you can upload that world online as a scenario just like your past games and then when a player plays it and they lose the election the original uploader of that game gets it back with all the changes the past leader made and the changes they themself made before that. Basically it’d allow people to choose to simulate their world during the time they’re unelected but without you having to write a bunch of ai.

  10. It is wonderful to hear of D3 coming, and as most of the posts above can atest, we all love to tinker with the idea of what to add. Certainly you feel you can add to what you did in D2 and with something as complex as Democracy is, you of course could probably simulate any number of policies and internal effects for each of those policies as well. I suppose it just becomes a prospect of where shall i trim the hem?

    Anyway, am looking forward to your new game, I have D2 and am infinitely pleased and frustrated, haha, and enjoy it very much. The fellow that suggested a online challenge type system as you have for GTB and GSB sounds marvelously fun and intriguing and as noted might make a wonderful addition in the sense that our ‘game’ could be considered either as ‘attacker’ of ‘defender’ and as the other person’s script plays out we, as the opposition party need to balance or fix it. My labor party fights the elite-est programs of the Crup Party only to fail. :) Or successfully challenge elite-est government by having more middle income jobs generated by having state owned factory jobs spread across the central part of England. :) Anyway… as you already know, we all have our pet ideas and suggestions. But regardless, wish you a much needed vacation and a wonderfully productive time when you return.
    Am looking forward to the new game. I predict it will be Marvelous! :)


  11. Speaking of pet ideas – democracies have always had to contend with the effects and influence of the rich and hyperrich (both individuals and corporations of one kind or another), but since 2008 the corrosive influence of banks and investors and other elements of the financial sector has become overtly horrific. Yet right now in the UK the Coalition government continues to try and kid on that they are in charge of fiscal policies, that they determine economic policy, oh yes, nothing to see here, move along. Whereas it is becoming starkly clear how much we are at the mercy of such global finance constructs as the bond markets, or the commodities futures markets, or even just WT

  12. aargh, hit the post button before I’d finished….

    as I was saying – or even just WTO rules. I just wonder how you as a game developer would regard these kind of backroom, under-the-radar macropolitical moves and whether they are gameable. I’m not proposing that we are all victims of an immense conspiracy – you dont need to have a formal conspiracy for conspiracy-like effects to happen when you have all these global market players playing to the same ruthlessly acquisitive rules.

  13. I like it! More of this please. It was annoying that you couldn’t have potions like these in Democracy 2.

  14. This isn’t so much about Private sector and Public sector, but I think there should be more two way options like this. For example, when it comes to immigration in democracy two, the only thing you can do is to lower immigration from everything. I think there should be a way of choosing between how many refugees you should take in and how many labour immigrants you should take in and how strong your borders are.

    Some think that they should give aid to refugees camps instead of taking in refugees. This should be an option and would make capitalists mad, but make patriots, liberals and socialists happy. Reason for patriots being happy is because patriots prefer to help refugees in the outside world, rather than having refugees enter the country.

    If you would increase the refugee immigration, the Muslim group (separate from Christian group) would rise and make liberals and socialists happy, while making patriots and conservative mad. Mostly patriots

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