So I’ve been watching some documentaries about Nazis lately, as you do, and it reminded me of a strange little eureka moment I experienced after playing games like Galactic Civilizations.
See, GalCiv gives you multiple types of government you can subscribe to, each with pros and cons. In short, a dictatorship’s main advantage is keeping order and making fast decisions, whereas a federation grants economic bonuses.
Now here’s the meat of my story. There can be times in GalCiv when your borders are understaffed and a great threat is looming upon you. If you’ve been a benevolent ruler and given your colonies a degree of independence, you may now find that very liberty could get them wiped out. It may simply be a lesser evil to sacrifice short-term happiness in order to rustle up troops faster. Desperate times and all that.
So you clamp down on liberty for the greater good. And lo, the threat is fended off. Now you just have to patch up the damage and give the people their freedoms again, right? Sure. Except, you know, the Drengin Empire has been getting a bit hot-headed lately. Who’s to say they won’t start eyeing up your juicy factory worlds? And you know, tax bonuses are nice and all, but it’s not much good if half your planets decide they’d rather govern themselves. This is a harsh galaxy, guys, and fighting amongst yourselves would just make it easier to get picked off…
Thus my utopian civilisation became a fascist state that would last decades. This is an organic situation that arose via the mechanics of the game without being forced upon me. Such little moments are a big part of the appeal of GalCiv and other 4X strategy games for me, but this occurrence in particular ended up unexpectedly thought-provoking. Games let us escape our world, but can also bring us crashing back down to Earth.