2One of the biggest influences in coming up with the mechanical, as well as thematic, bits of Statecraft was The Political Compass. I stumbled across it while faffing around on the internet (like most cool things), and shared it with a bunch of my friends as a bit of fun.

The Political Compass is basically a survey which asks you to respond with how much you agree or disagree with certain statements like ‘do you think the death penalty should be allowed for serious crimes’. And then aggregates all that information together to plot you on a graph of social liberality vs economic liberality.

It ended up sparking a really interesting week of chatter about where everyone was on the graph, how authoritarian someone was, or how much of a socialist they were. What was really interesting was that everyone starting questioning why they voted for a particular political party, did their ideas actually match up to their fave bloke-in-a-suit?

I got really fixed on this whole thing, particularly the idea that even with this elegant way of showing all that information, effectively it was just all these conflicting ideas distilled into a single point on a graph.

This was the key idea that I wanted to build Statecraft around.

Real people have complicated, contradictory ideas about different topics.

So from there I started toying with different ways of representing a person’s ideology, should it be a reproduction of this idea, determining it as a 2-dimensional spectrum thing, or maybe a different way altogether? The main problem I had with just doing a 2-dimensional spectrum thing was that it was fairly unrelatable.

Most people would just react with meh when faced with a game about the degree to which a voter might be economically liberal. It’s just not that sexy. Then I started thinking about what would be, and it hit me like a 9M14 Malyutka Soviet Missile. Communists. People get really riled up by the topic, even decades after the McCarthy era. Whether people identify as modern socialists or as defenders of free market capitalism still ignites flame wars on Facebook pages across the world.

Similarly, with nations all over the world wondering how much they should spy on their own citizens, or how much they should open up marriage, ‘how socially liberal’ a person is doesn’t quite zing. Whereas the ongoing battle between authority and anarchy is a bit more of a brain-tingler.

So rather than make this a game about where you are on a graph, it’s which side you’re on.

But then the question was, could you be on both?