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

Modelling cultural differences in Democracy 4

One of the biggest challenges in designing and balancing Democracy 4 is having a single simulation model work over all countries. In theory, if *everything* is modelled, then you have a perfect model of human society and behavior, and feeding in the correct settings to each country will produce the required results.

Because I am neither superhuman or crazy, I don’t think this is really feasible, so we limit the simulation to that subset of variables that I think makes the game playable and fun, and reasonablyt accurate, and then I am left with the task of working out how to fudge that simulation to fit real world experience.

An example of this in the game is productivity. In the game, worker productivity is quite an important simulation value. The player can see its value, a chart of its history and view its inputs and output:

Of course the simulation is assuming that the list of inputs and outputs to this value make sense over all countries, or in other words, in all cultures, but this is a very simplistic view. Whast actually makes one country more productive than another? there can be a million things, many of which we do not model. For example:

  • Extremes of temperature in a country may require a mid-day siesta where less/no work is done.
  • A culture of extreme deference to authority may reduce productivity due to a lack of suggestions/criticism of bad practice
  • Highly variable and extreme weather may mean that work is regularly interrupted as a result
  • A cultural expectation of strong work/life balance may reduce the tendency to do overtime
  • A cultural work ethic may encourage overwork and unpaid overtime by default

We do not explicitly model any of these things as tracked variables. You could argue that it would be possible, but in some cases they have historical roots that are now just cultural norms and cannot easily be explained. For example here in the UK, the British people tend to have a general distrust of, and dislike of politicians and authoritarian figures. ID Cards are NOT a popular idea here. The reasons for this are hard to discern, but its certainly rooted in the past and not something you could easily model with numbers.

Similarly there is a deferential attitude to age and rank in many Asian countries that works in a similar way, and likely has both positive and negative outcomes. I watch a lot of Korean dramas these days and its fascinating the extent to which people seem both obsessed with education and status, and also massively invested in the minutiae of office politics. Why is this? very hard to say.

Review: Misaeng (First Impression) – The Korean Lass

It might be hard to model this stuff, but we certainly cannot ignore it. For example Germany IS a very productive country, especially at manufacturing. It has decent holiday provision for workers, and strong unions, yet its productivity is super high. why? A lot of it can probably be put down to the cultural work ethic. Take this article, for example:

“In German business culture, when an employee is at work, they should not be doing anything other than their work. Facebook, office gossip with co-workers, trolling Reddit for hours, and pulling up a fake spreadsheet when your boss walks by are socially unacceptable behaviors.”

Because I need to model Germany as accurately as I can, I have blatantly included this as a script that runs and generates extra values for Germany to represent German Culture. in this case, a free bonus to worker productivity:

Adding this may seem like a 2 minute job, but NO. It triggered a boost to GDP that resulted in traffic congestion caused by the emergence of a gig economy (uber!). This has high regulation in Germany, so I had to boost labor laws, which then results in a corporate exodus away from germany…

I am currently considering whether the German language should act as impediment to corporate exodus (Companies tend to prefer to relocate to a country with the same language as them, and German is not as popular as English)… and so the balancing continues…

There are similar scripts for each country, and I’m gradually amassing as much feedback as possible and tweaking the values to make each country feel authentic, while keeping the same basic economic and political model. Lots more tweaking to come over the next few months!

2 thoughts on Modelling cultural differences in Democracy 4

  1. Spain is quite bizarre in those topics and hard to model:
    * We think family is more important than work so we don’t like to do overtime work
    * But our unenmployment rate is really high (from 16 to 25% depending on the economic cycle) so workers do a LOT of unpaid extra hours just to make the bosses know they are there and not lose their jobs (not doing this is not an option as if you lose your job you probably won’t get a new one and there are tons of workers willing to step on your seat and do anything).
    * But the productivity is low because as you know you have to be 12 hours at your work and you will only be paid for 8 hours, that makes you not work at full steam.
    * Furthermore, there are many youngsters with two or more university careers which find no work and work in low salary jobs for many many years. Which leads to a reduction of birth rate as people cannot have babies as they cannot pay the rent or buy a house.
    * etc.. etc.. etc..

  2. Worker efficiency might be a good one.

    Worker hours * mechanization * efficiency
    Then maybe minus a cost which can be
    Mechanization + labor

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