So You Think You Can Govern?

by Jeff Cork on Oct 02, 2013 at 09:19 AM

The U.S. government shutdown continues, leaving federal agencies shuttered and employees furloughed indefinitely. Like most Americans, you've probably thought just about anyone could be doing a better job of settling the issue – regardless of who you feel is to ultimately to blame for this mess. Thanks to the magic of video games, you can give it a shot. We've got a list of games that let you live out your dreams, whether you see yourself as a peacemaker or powermonger.

While SimCity (pictured above) might not put you in the president's seat, you still have a vast amount of power. Everything from taxation to transportation is under your control, and the sims are more than content to vote with their feet. Do right by them, and your town will flourish. Fail, and it's all your fault – unless you want to pin it on your advisers. But who would do such a thing?


Evil Genius
If you'd rather torture a sim than care for one, Evil Genius might be more in your wheelhouse. This strategy game lets you manage an evil empire that would make even the most successful James Bond villain jealous. Don't worry about being holed up on your island base; your influence spreads across the globe like a wonderful disease. 

Tropico 4
Tropico 4 puts a satirical spin on Latin American dicatorships, putting you in the (lone) seat of power. You can be as benevolent as you want, choosing to fund education and create gorgeous vacation getaways (to siphon tourist bucks). Or you can make everyone miserable as you crush your enemies and send out hit squads to silence dissent. Heck, why not do both? You're el presidente, after all.

Liberty or Death
Koei's 1994 strategy game took players back in time to the American Revolution. Hey, those guys created the system of government that got us into this mess in the first place! You can play as the British or American forces, in case you think we'd be better off with parliamentary rule. (Keep that kind of talk close to your tricorn hat, though; some might consider it treasonous.)

Civilization V
Defeating your enemies or negotiating a truce is one thing, but Civilization V offers another path to victory: blasting into orbit while (presumably) giving everyone stuck back on Earth the finger. Even if both the Republicans and Democrats get what they want in the next few months, neither party is thinking that boldly. That shows a serious lack of imagination, which you can remedy in the game.

Apparently, that whole space thing isn't a one-way deal in video games. In XCOM, the stakes are considerably higher than in the previous entries. If you fail to work with other nations and manage your squad effectively, the planet will fall to alien invaders city by city. Guess who's fault that'll be? Yours. Political gridlock is nothing compared to a complete Earth colonization. Suddenly, being in charge doesn't sound all that great. What do you say, advisers?

When you absolutely, positively need to be in charge, it's tough to compete with being a god. Your followers will tremble beneath your feet as you terraform their world and guide them toward victory over their heathen foes. If anyone starts to sass back, you can get volcanic on 'em or show your displeasure via several other natural disasters. Perhaps we should be thankful the guys in D.C. don't wield that kind of power over us. Yet.

There are dozens of other games that let you govern – what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!