Particracy is a game with politics as its central theme. At first one could think that’s a pretty boring subject matter for a game, but if you think about it, politics is full of rules and systems that make it perfectly suitable for gameplay! There’s elections, which can be seen as games with a score, there’s seats in your parliament, which express voting power, and there’s plenty of deal-making to do.
In this page I will try to briefly outline the plans I have for this game. Future blog articles will expand on the ideas summarized here.
The game will initially be browser based, so you log on, manage your party’s actions, and the game keeps running persistently, in the background. Later a mobile app might be in the works, but I’m not doing both at the same time. The game will not feature any real-time 2D or 3D graphics of any kind, but it will feature well-designed maps, charts, tables, and character portraits.
The core of the game is the fact that each player manages a political party of his or her design. You choose the branding of your party (name, acronym, color, logo, …) and you control how your party’s members of the legislature vote, how you position yourself ideologically, and who gets appointed to office. You win seats by running in elections, a crucial mechanic for the game.
Each player plays a political party, and it doesn’t make sense to have more than 8 to 10 significant parties in one political system. The world should feel real and plausible, and active players should be able to get to know most of the countries in the world and what they stand for, so having more than 50 to 60 active nations isn’t workable. This puts a natural cap on the number of players at 400 to 600, so to scale the game to a wider community, there need to be multiple worlds. Players can play in more than one world if they have the time to commit to that.
Each of these game worlds will be unique, with different geography, different nations and different cultures to absorb or develop. To enable this scaling, the game generates the world geography automatically – though each map will be visually vetted before it is made available for gameplay. Some gameplay variations could be introduced in different worlds to cater to different audiences, for instance by running the game clock at a different speed.
Every once in a while, nations will hold elections, and all parties registered will participate. The virtual populace will judge each party based on how well its ideological position compares to that of the electorate (which differs around the world and within each nation), based on how the country has performed in opposition or government, and based on its campaign style and the appeal of individual candidates.
I can’t say too much about this yet, because much of it hasn’t been fleshed out yet. You will be able to how your party campaigns itself by shifting the emphasis between its ideology, its performance in government and the populist appeal of its candidates and policies.
Larger countries (or smaller ones, for that matter) will be able to partition their territory into smaller sub-national governments, like states or provinces, which can have their own varying degree of autonomy and self-government. The very same parties that run at the national level can then participate in elections at the local level and form a governing coalition there.
Particracy starts out at the legislative level, where every represented party gets its say, and everyone can try to influence the lawmaking process. More powerful parties will determine to form a coalition with majority support, and will get to appoint a head of government and cabinet ministers. There will be separate sets of policies that the executive branch can act on, to control what happens in government and to influence the nation and its simulated citizens.
The world will feature a detailed economic model, which players can influence through government policy, taxes, tariffs and trade agreements. This includes government spending, taxes and budgets.
Nations will make treaties among themselves to conduct international diplomacy. There will be a wide variety of subjects to negotiate: a treaty could be about agreeing to abolish the death penalty, but it could also be about establishing a free trade zone or a defensive alliance.
The game will feature military conflict, but it is not primarily a war simulation game. The combat will be realistic, in the sense that it will be expensive to finance, and each action will have its consequences.