Philosopher King

I believe that video games have a great power to educate.  The act of interacting with a video game has a greater potential for teaching than more passive means, such as watching a video or reading a textbook.  While flying the other day, I had an idea for a game that I think could be both educational and interesting.

The game would be called Philosopher King.  You would play as the ruler of a small kingdom, with appointed ministers who would control various departments, such as agriculture, the military, foreign policy, &c.  At the beginning of the game, you would choose your initial ministers and make some choices to set up your kingdom.  Then, from time to time, issues would arise, and you would need to decide what to do.

The gimmick of the game is this: each of your ministers would belong to a different school of thought, e.g. stoicism, Mohism, mercantalism, &c.  (Ideally, the ministers would actually be historic figures who embodied these schools, for added use and knowledge.)  So, for example, if one of your powerful neighbors declared war upon a weak neighbor, and your military advisor was a Mohist, he might advise you to come to the aid of the defending nation.  You would also be presented with a counter-choice, from a different school of thought, to whom you could listen, instead.  Your legalist advisor might encourage you to focus on agriculture, while his mercantilist rival prefers fostering domestic industry.  Through these various issues and crises, then, your nation would grow and change in different ways, with success being measured in various ways, such as overall happiness, security, population, &c, each of which would be measures independently, with no single overall score, but only these incomparable metrics, so that each player could decide how they want to lead their nation.

Since you would always be guaranteed your minister’s school’s option, you would be best served to staff your government with your preferred schools, and you would be able to fire them at will, at the risk of alienating that faction.  Perhaps angering too many factions might prompt a coup or a revolution against you, ending your rule, and the game.

I would want the game to be pretty indirectly controlled.  You wouldn’t just plop down fields and canals.  Rather, you would need to wait for a particular option to appear, and then choose what you want done, which your citizens would then enact.  Although I enjoy direct management, sometimes I wish there were more games that put you at more of a distance from the action, as it were.

The choice system would be a bit similar to NationStates, but I’d want decisions to have more weight.  While I briefly enjoyed that game, nothing you did ever felt meaningful.  All that changed were some values and some text.  I would want you to be able to look upon your kingdom and see the results of your choices, to see happy towns or razed villages.  It’s also a bit similar to an older game called Hidden Agenda, which also has ministers.  I like the thought of using real world philosophies, though, as a way to educate players a bit more.  I often wish that I could role play as a particular philosophy while playing management games, but it’s not that easy to do, usually.  I can’t play as a legalist space station owner in Startopia when there’s so little agriculture and military.  I always end up as a combination hospital ship and trading post.

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