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At the end of September 2017, the eCivix South African Election Simulator will be released as a free-to-play online game. The game will be totally free, with no sign up fees or pay-to-win features.

eCivix is a non-profit organisation founded by a group of young South Africans with a passion for issue-based politics. The group comprises former law, actuary, economics and engineering students. The idea to create this game came from a combination of the group’s interest for politics as well as gaming.

The game will be a turn-based simulation game that focuses on policy issues within the contemporary South African political environment. The game simulates a national South African election, roughly based on the upcoming 2019 national elections. The creators hope that the game gets South Africans to think about policy positions and the subsequent effects of these policies.

At the start of each new game, users get to create and name their party of choice. The user then gets to take a position on ten particular issues. These issues range from abortion rights through to the funding of primary education and one of five positions on each issue. The game makes use of the libertarian-authoritarian scale to determine what the position on each issue is. As an example, on the issue of firearms the five positions would be:

After creating your party and selecting your political campaign’s core issues, the player starts the game. Each turn, players get to spend their gathered funds and manpower on actions, ranging from political rallies, advertisements and fundraising. These actions can garner the support of certain sections of the South African population while angering others. But in the game, South Africans are able to be convinced through campaigns, regardless of historical political party loyalty and supposed ideological identity.

At the end of the game, the results for both the national legislator, as well as the various provincial legislators are presented to the player. The game will also have an online leaderboard, allowing players to compete with one another.

Although this game is obviously limited in its representation of political ideology (due to the necessity of broadly grouping ideologies together) it remains one of a kind within South Africa. With time and support, the game could, naturally, become more and more nuanced and fine tuned.

This game is a clear and evident example of how private charity does address certain social issues. Social action and civic engagement can only truly be effective when it is not government sponsored.

The game will be available on ecivix.org.za.

Author: Simon Oberholster is the project manager at eCivix and a first year industrial engineering student at the University of Pretoria. Simon has a passion for politics and is a lover of literature.