You Know, Sim-IRS Really Doesn't Sound Like Much Fun

from the rated-p-for-political-silliness dept

The French government has jumped on the turn-work-into-video-games train and said it will release an online game that lets players try to balance the country's budget. It sounds like the game's intended to communicate a message from politicians to the public that coming up with a balanced budget isn't easy, since the minister behind the game says public demands for fiscal cutbacks are followed by complaints about lost services. The game even involves users trying to get their budgets approved by a virtual parliament, so it's likely been designed to encourage a specific outcome and get users to have to think in a certain way to win -- making it more propaganda than video game. While it's easy to dismiss the idea and wonder who would have an interest in it, the success of other simulation games, from the venerable Flight Simulator to sports sims to the SimCity line, there's probably somebody out there who's been waiting to play budget-balancer. The obvious question to ask, though, is just how much money did the government spend -- or waste, depending on your point of view -- to make this game, and is that included in the simulated budget?

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  • identicon
    Aaron, 17 May 2006 @ 12:00pm

    Haven't seen these in a long time.

    Shadow President was great, and there were a bunch of other political simulators around 1990. Sadly, it's a lost genre, with Superpower being the only recent game of note, and the interface makes the game nearly unplayable.

    I've seen a few simplistic flash-based budget simulators, but without the dynamics of an evolving economy, they are more suited to making a political point than a strategy game. This one, being developed by a government, will probably be the same.

    But if anyone could bring back Shadow Pres, I'd be the first in line to buy it.

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  • identicon
    David T, 17 May 2006 @ 1:29pm

    Earth in the Balance

    A very good old game was "Earth in the Balance" which faced a worldwide environmental balancing act instead of a fiscal balance, but covered much of the same ground.

    The interesting thing is that it allowed users to select their own criteria for success so there was no inherent political bias -- one could even completely devalue the environment and focus entirely on development if the user so desired.

    It was a game well ahead of its time.

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  • identicon
    Jacques Chirac, 17 May 2006 @ 2:07pm

    Screenshots of Budget-Balance Game UI

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Louis, 18 May 2006 @ 2:38am

    Propaganda aside...

    It would be nice to have some more transparency in issues such as Government spending, and a better medium of transferring that information. I.e. instead of having to watch boring parliamentary television.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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