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Introduction to Fate of the World: The Game That Lets You Run the World
Many games have been published over the years that lets the user play act the role of supreme world dictator. Supreme Ruler 2010 is a recent example (at least after the player controls much of the world) and of course the Civilization series is a well known example of the 'Run the World' subgenre in the strategy realm.
But few games are as well presented, easy to navigate, and yet incredibly complex as Fate of the World. Game junkies who seek a real challenge should definitely give it a try. Published by Red Redemption Studios with the support of non-profit organizations like Oxfam, Fate of the World is an educational simulation that plays like a detailed turn based strategy title. The game sets players in the role of the head of the Global Environmental Organization (GEO), a hypothetical world government enacted by 2020 to combat the ravages of a rapidly changing climate.
In Fate of the World the planet is broken into twelve regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Russia, North Africa, South Africa, the Middle East, India, South Asia, China, Japan, and Oceania. Each has its own economy, its own views on environmental issues, its own resources, and its own climate challenges. The GEO receives operating funds from each region based in its economy with these funds being contingent on retaining the support of the populace in each region. If a region becomes too angry with the GEO, it will pull its support from the GEO and follow its own path.
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Fate of the World Fundamentals: How to Govern the Planet
The Head of the GEO manages international affairs by recruiting agents in each region and then assigning a card to available agents that will give them instructions for enacting policies, pursuing programs, researching technology, and so forth. This card based mechanism is deep and broad and allows the player to change a region's trajectory over time. Recruiting agents and playing cards costs money, and the total budget limits the number of agents recruited and cards played in a given turn. The cards are representations of the various actions that a region can take in order to adapt to a changing world.
This card mechanic is the heart of the Fate of the World game. Cards are broken into a number of basic categories or decks; there are project cards, environmental cards, technology cards, energy cards, welfare cards, and political cards. To make a deck available the appropriate office (basically the top card in the deck) must be established during one turn, and then that deck will be available in all successive turns. The card decks are broken down as follows:
- Projects - Major efforts like the deployment of renewable energy, electric cars, or a carbon capture and sequestration program.
- Environment - Subsidization of efforts to manage droughts and storms, enactment of environmental protections, and better water use
- Technology - research advanced biotech, energy production, and nanomaterials and the purchase of researched tech from other regions
- Energy - Expand oil, coal, or natural gas production; decline the use of oil or coal in electric power production, ban the use of certain fuels
- Welfare - Promote job growth in certain sectors, subsidize education programs, subsidize public health programs.
- Political - Provide law enforcement or security assistance to improve stability, declare martial law, conduct black ops.
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The Underlying Data Models of Fate of the World
If the mechanic of playing cards to effect particular policies is the hands and feet of Fate of the World, play-throughs will confirm that the various models for economic growth, climate change, and resource utilization (to name but a few) are the muscle and bone that keep Fate of the World running. The models used in the game are based closely on computer modeling used in the real world to try and predict the effects of policy changes or climate shifts over time. Granted any simulation can only be so accurate, but all in all the course of a given Fate of the World game mimics a path that is entirely plausible for the coming decades given what we know about the current state of the world.
Once all desired cards have been played the player ends the turn, which advances 5 years and allows these models to simulate the expected effect the policies enacted would have on the world system. An in-depth metrics database will provide numeric value changes for all of the myriad data sets modeled in the game for players who are data fanatics and simple bar charts of major points of interest are also available for review. Based on the effects of the policies enacted the previous turn, the player may want to continue building on them the next turn or change focus as necessary. The end goal is to meet the particular scenario objectives, which could be simply managing resources and developing each region's economy, or moving human society away from the use of polluting resources fast enough that irreversible climate change isn't able to begin.
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How to Get Started in a Game of Fate of the World
The first several turns in any of the Fate of the World scenarios are absolutely vital to a fledgling GEO president. Certain policy decisions need to be enacted at earliest opportunity regardless of the player's overall strategy for saving the planet. Because of the cumulative effect of emissions and the long term warming caused by increases in the concentration of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere efforts to mitigate warming need to begin as soon as possible if there is to be any hope of keeping global temperature increases to a manageable level.
The first step in starting a scenario in the Fate of the World PC Game is to recruit some agents. The first turn can be spent simply recruiting agents without enacting policies - more agents recruited straight away means more money can be spent on policies in turn 2. But most players will probably try to balance their expenditures between agent recruitment and playing top cards in decks in order to maximize the possible policy choices available the following turn. A very typical start is to recruit one agent in each region and play a card that tells that agent to open an office.
A major consideration is whether to enact Tobin taxes at the outset. Enacting a Tobin tax is done from the project deck (the only deck that does not require an office) and will raise the GEO's budget by 100 for every region where the Tobin tax car is played. Whether or not to collect Tobin taxes is a strategic choice. Only stable, developed regions are Tobin taxable and unless they have eco-friendly dispositions they will resent the imposition of these taxes and support will go down. Play a Tobin tax card in a region for too long without offsetting the support loss through popular policies and the entire region may abandon the GEO.
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Fate of the World Regional Strategies
Each region will likely require a different approach in Fate of the World. PC Game designers in the past few years have become adept at creating a single mechanic that is expected to represent the entire game world (Sins of a Solar Empire comes ot mind), but the designers in Fate of the World have taken care to ensure that each region in the game responds differently even if its economy and resource use patterns fit into the game models.
To return to the Tobin tax issue, at gamestart only North America, Europe, Russia, Japan, and Oceania have the card available. They are the most developed nations and the most stable. China, South Asia, and Latin America are less developed and heavily populated, but fairly stable. The Middle East, North Africa, South Africa, and India are unstable, ecologically fragile, and largely impoverished. Each set of nations will require a different approach. If the last group of nations aren't stabilized they will eventually disintegrate into open warfare which will shatter their economies, population, cause GEO agents to be killed, and spread their instability to neighboring regions. If the first set is simply taxed without relief they will reject the GEO.
For the best results each region must be kept stable. While security assistance and martial law can force the issue it is better in the long term to change the conditions within the countries. Playing cards to help weaker regions develop will address the root causes of their instability. Helping middling regions like China and Latin America develop their economies and managing ecological issues can bring their standard of development up to the point that they can be Tobin taxable and increase the base GEO budget. Of course, developing these regions will increase the strain on resource use worldwide and add to carbon emissions...
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Long Term Challenges in Fate of the World - Resource Depletion and Financial Collapse
The first ten turns or so are usually fairly simple. If less stable regions are stabilized and supported through liberal application of welfare deck cards they won't export their instability. If middling regions are slowly developed they will boost the GEO's finances significantly. And if the top regions are utilized for their bonuses to technological research and convinced through eco-awareness campaigns to be supportive of GEO efforts their Tobin taxes can be maintained indefinitely.
But by the late 21st century actions taken (or lack of them) in the first few turns of the game will begin to have a major effect on the Fate of the World. PC Game though it is, its underlying models recognize that resources on Earth are finite and the climate is delicate. Fail to cure regions' addiction to coal and oil and shortages will begin to devastate industry and agriculture. This will lead to the dreaded financial collapse - once commercial activities comprise 2/3 of the global economy (which is divided into agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors) a financial collapse will begin. The commercial sectorwill decline, but if resources are insufficient to meet demand in other sectors, they may decline at the same rate. Unemployment will rise, which will lead to unrest and fewer funds for the GEO. It is possible to enter a global death spiral - eventually the GEO will have no funds to provide security and will get kicked out of most regions - and that's a game ender.
It is paramount in Fate of the World (as in the real world) to begin a transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources for energy production and transportation. Not just because the continued emissions of greenhouse gases will contribute to weather catastrophes of ever-increasing intensity but because eventually the global economy will no longer support the resource demands placed upon it by burgeoning populations and growing economies.
And this is the point of the game. Fate of the World was released to provide a challenge and a warning: the world we see created in the Fate of the World PC game may well be our world 20, 50, 100 years hence.