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Controversial Policy Choices in Games


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#1 Labouts   Members   -  Reputation: 133

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:01 AM

In games where you are the leader of an independent state (a civilization, city state, ect), do you think controversial policy issues should be avoided when possible?

I'm asking because I was thinking about population control methods in the game I'm making and thought about the possibility of choosing to ban or promote birth control as a way the player could control growth. There are a number of other potential policy choices like this which would affect gameplay such as capital punishment policies and treatment of POWs; further, I'm already giving individual citizens enough personality to reasonably cause them to like or dislike your policies ( resistance to change, conscientiousness, ect ).

The game's main focus is managing the expansion of a small young civilization, but not necessarily politics. That said, do you think those choices should be included in the game or would including such issues from the real world distract too much from the core content?

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#2 ZeroBeat   Members   -  Reputation: 521

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:58 AM

Hi, good luck with making the game.

I think it depends how its implemented. Does it add something exciting to the experiance or is it an annoyance to the gamer while he plays? If he ignores, will it be a big problem? Maybe by implementing a simple such system just a basic prototype, you would be able to trully see how it will work.

Hope that helps.

#3 Bigdeadbug   Members   -  Reputation: 173

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 06:41 AM

As ZeroBeat touches upon it all depends about context. So long as it fits within the game and has a purpose (outside of sensationalism) and you yourself are fine with it then implement any feature you want. A good example of this not being done is No Russian from Modern Warfare 2, the mission is controversial but the fact it adds nothing of substance to the game means there is no point in it being there apart from the media attention it generated for the game.

People will inevitably be offended or have objections to these sorts of topics, but they will inevitably be in the minority (albeit the vocal one). I'm a firm believer that people have a right to be offended if they wish but they don't have the right to not be offended. If the game is good then I wouldn't worry about these kinds of mechanics distracting from the core of the game.

#4 Labouts   Members   -  Reputation: 133

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 07:55 AM

Thanks for your thoughts.
The game is somewhat mature in tone; I don't think it would stick out as an unnecessary add-on. Prototypically putting in a social policy system and ensuring that other parts of the game don't rely on it until I've experimented is a good idea. The question of whether players who don't like it can ignore it somehow didn't occur to me. I think I might allow the player to abstain for making a stance and let the relevant citizens make personal decisions when the issues arise. Thanks again.

#5 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 934

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 09:37 AM

Warring Factions is a sapce game with more colony management than say ogame, and they have a rudimentary policy system. Basically you can set local laws like ban contraception and martial law and recycling and such and they have effects on the colony. Only 3 laws are ever used out of 7 though. And they really only have some small effects on the colony. I know that some games like nation states are all about policy issues.
I remember reading about a game in an OSC book, I believe the ones about Jason where the galactic society plays a game of world domination and how you set up the interactions between social and fiscal policy has real effects on whether your nation is strong or if you get rebellions and crap. I always wanted to make that game. It sounded so cool.

#6 compscialien   Members   -  Reputation: 104

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 11:15 AM

As ZeroBeat touches upon it all depends about context. So long as it fits within the game and has a purpose (outside of sensationalism) and you yourself are fine with it then implement any feature you want. A good example of this not being done is No Russian from Modern Warfare 2, the mission is controversial but the fact it adds nothing of substance to the game means there is no point in it being there apart from the media attention it generated for the game.

People will inevitably be offended or have objections to these sorts of topics, but they will inevitably be in the minority (albeit the vocal one). I'm a firm believer that people have a right to be offended if they wish but they don't have the right to not be offended. If the game is good then I wouldn't worry about these kinds of mechanics distracting from the core of the game.


The mission "No Russian" did have a point to add to the plot: it shows WHY the Russians turn out to become the bad guys. Without that event, the conflict would not have started. So while it was a plot hole filled campaign, every mission had a point.

Back on topic, yes, I think the feature would add to your game, as long as it is implemented in the same way as the other similar features, and that it is 100% needed to play/beat the game. Save features like that for the core gameplay (like Battlefield and shooting or Mario and jumping). And on that note, sounds like a game I would play, so I will definitely watch out for it.

#7 eugene2k   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 12:03 PM

do you think controversial policy issues should be avoided when possible?

Giving a player more control over how to win in a game is never a bad idea. So, if the player can control the population additionally by issuing a ban as well as using other methods - you're ok. If you deepen the gameplay by making side effects for the game mechanic (e.g. you're less popular as a ruler if you ban things) that's an even better thing to do.

#8 Bigdeadbug   Members   -  Reputation: 173

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:18 PM

The mission "No Russian" did have a point to add to the plot: it shows WHY the Russians turn out to become the bad guys. Without that event, the conflict would not have started. So while it was a plot hole filled campaign, every mission had a point.


Given its supposed impact thought very little it done with it, the same point could have been made in a myriad of ways with much less backlash from the media. They slapped the plot point on as an excuse for the level instead of doing the concept justice. The developer obviously weren't fine with it (or had little faith in it getting across its meaning and rightly so in this case) from the fact they let it be so easily side stepped and it doesn't even sit well within the game itself, just moments before your speeding down a mountain on a snowmobile.

I'm not saying they should not have done it, but that they should have done it right.

#9 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2130

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:33 PM

One approach would be to include them, but not make them stick out like a sore thumb. e.g. only offer banning birth control if:
- It is a strongly religious society OR
- They run a totalitarian regime OR
- Some large minority or majority of the inhabitants would support it

e.g. don't make the first screen you see "ban birth control". If people are playing it that way, they should get the option. Of course "hiding away" features does make them less of a selling point and of questionable value.




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