Democracy 3 is a Terrific Simulation of Politics and Policy Implementation

Even though I have a graduate degree in public policy, I learned a lot from playing Democracy 3 and definitely recommend it.

In Democracy 3, you play the leader of an actual nation (for example, Canada) and enact laws and policies to improve the wellbeing of your citizens, so you can win reelection. You can enact all sorts of policies: social policies (for example, legalizing or banning recreational drugs), economic policies (for example, raising agricultural subsidies, lowering taxes), security policies (for example, domestic surveillance, privately-run prisons), immigration policy (for example, immigration tests), you can even control the amount of foreign aid your country gives.

Policies affect your government's budget and also take a certain amount of your limited political capital to enact.

Policies also affect voters’ well-being and perception of your government. Different voting blocks (for example, liberals, retired people, capitalists) react differently depending on the policy.

Democracy 3 is fun to play and is a terrific simulation of politics and policy implementation. I played it for about 10-15 hours and found it fascinating and very educational/thought-provoking. In the game, I mostly tried establishing my own extreme libertarian utopia and was repeatedly assassinated by either socialist or religious extremists. In one attempt, I was under threat from BOTH socialist and religious extremists! In my last attempted, I enacted more moderate policies and did make it to the next election but I got zero votes.

Even though I have a graduate degree in public policy, I learned a lot from Democracy 3 and definitely recommend it. It was very though-provoking to examine how the game simulates the interactions among different variable (for example, the effects of legalizing drugs on crime). Even when I disagreed with the model, it was a great learning opportunity to reflect on why I disagreed with it.

Someone should create an online course on government where you play (and reflect on) Democracy 3, SimCity and Civilization!


Any questions? Contact me at, a news/analysis site I run on games and learning.

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