What does a democracy game look like?

Over the last year or so I’ve been thinking about games which encourage and promote democracy. Games with the theme of democracy, or games where the mechanics highlight democratic principles.

The trouble is, it’s not easy to get something which is really democratic and a fun game. Games often rely on luck deepening over the course of time, causing competitiveness between the players. Democracy is often a nuanced or complex thing, and games tend to work best when they’re narrowly focused. Over the summer I created a roll and write game about fairer voting systems which had a hugely off-putting scoring mechanism — and so may not have been a good advertisement for proportional representation!

It can also be a problem identifying an opponent in a game about democracy. Suggesting that the players are each other’s opponents is traditional, yet leads towards a rather dull civilization-building games with the democracy theme as a thin veneer. A co-operative game fits best, but asks who the players are supposed to be. Early in 2020 I played around with the idea of a tongue-in-cheek game where the players are villains trying to suppress the vote.

My current thought is for a co-operative card game about threats to democracy. Players would collect and share cards of actions (education, protest, legal action, parliamentary legislation) in order to defeat threats (voter suppression, gerrymandering, corruption, misinformation) and legally secure systematic changes such as a better voting system and written constitution. It would be about players combining their cards in order to beat a threat — and so demonstrating how different types of campaigner need to work together to achieve their goals.

I’ll think more on this. Let me know any thoughts you have!|

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