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By: Paul Meekin
Well, that was unexpected.
After playing through two terms in the free iOS game “President Simulator”, I had nearly a 100 percent approval rating. I had lowered taxes for all citizens, encouraged jobs over handouts. Spoke to climate change deniers, encouraged innovation over regulation, and thought I did a pretty good job.
No I did not.
Then I thought about it and found perhaps the hidden genius of “President Simulator”. In truth, should a president operate based on solely on public opinion? What would make him the most popular?
Should a libertarian President cut as many taxes as they can without care for budget, institution, or fall out? Was it my job to go in with a jackhammer and reshape and demolish the government to the applause of zealots?
Would I have been a better President if I didn’t play to be the most popular libertarian of all time, but instead to do what I think is best for the country’s mentality?
Then…I played as a democrat. College for all, high taxes on corporations, making unpopular choices that were in-line with the ideology of a typical democrat. I did better.
Thus, it seems “President Simulator” has a distinct worldview that serves to sabotage the point of simulating being President. There seems to be right and wrong choices, and they don’t change or evolve depending on previous choices you made. For example I investigated corrupt judges twice, and shut down for-profit prisons twice. For example, meeting with a Climate Change denier always results in negative diplomacy points.
Another example, the fact that criticizing the Military Industrial Complex almost always seems to result in your death.
Compare this to a (better) game like “Reigns,” which has a similar yes/no dynamic. In that game, your world evolves, your kingdom evolves based on your choices – you can boost the economy at the cost of your standing with the church – and it can have consequences as you play as your heir or heir’s heir.
You can eventually level up the country over time, adding victory points to the various areas of Government – domestic, military, economic, etc. but if the game won’t reward you with a good score until you play its way, why would I keep playing?
The message of “Reigns” was balance is important. The message of “President Simulator” – at least from my time with it, is that there’s only one way to really go. To be fair, “Reigns” takes itself a little more seriously, and “President Simulator” is clearly tongue-in-cheek.
Maybe one day we’ll get a version that doesn’t think this stuff is such a joke. “Oregon Trail” had funny moments, but took the world and systems it presented deadly seriously.
Where is the American Political version of that? Have we grown so weary of our government and so eager to ostrich that a game that takes presidential politics seriously isn’t marketable, even on phones? Most everyone has a smart phone. Yet, the best we got is this game and Reigns.
Otherwise it’s Trump jokes. And clicker games.
Teach me something, damn it.
Thus, based on The Libertarian Republic Entertainment Rating System®, on a scale from Karl Marx to Ron Paul,”President Simulator” gets a Van Jones. Like Jones, “President Simulator” means well, makes salient points, and entertains. But also like Jones, it’s communist. There appears to be a right way to play the game, and the right was is leaning left on a lot of issues.
That said, President Simulator is free on phones, and it’s entirely possible you’ll do better than me. Let me know what you think because you might just do better.
Hell, I’d vote for ya.