Cold War-Era Geopolitical Simulators

As part of my attempts to reorient the focus of The Fourth Estate, I felt it is now time to spread news about some video games that I have been playing for years. For those who do not know, the Russian indie game developer “Kremlingames” have released a number of grand strategy video games set in the late 20th century where the player assumes the role of a Socialist Nation’s Head of State. The player must decide the fate of that Socialist Nation by choosing one of several choices, build up the national economy and the armed forces, reorganize council democracy, research new technologies, and determine the funding of key areas in the Socialist Nation. There are multiple endings and plenty of opportunities to change the fate of the world, creating ample replay value unlike anything that I had thought was possible in any video game.

If what I have just described so far sounds like anything comparable to the pages of The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.), that is because these are “Geopolitical Simulators.” The developer accurately recreates Soviet and Eastern Bloc politics, educating Western gamers unfamiliar with this side of 20th century history, and presenting a number of possibilities where the late 20th century could have happened differently. They have proven to be quite helpful in developing an understanding of the Soviets and Eastern Bloc countries that I was able to figure out how to reconfigure the Work-Standard enough so that it could be compatible with Scientific Socialism (like Maoism) as well as Artistic Socialism (like Hamiltonianism).

Kremlingames currently has four installments in this saga: Crisis in the Kremlin, Ostalgie: The Berlin Wall, China: Mao’s Legacy, and Collapse: A Political Simulator.

“Don’t let the Soviet Union collapse, and fall in the darkness of history or lead the Union by a new path – democracy and free market! But before you decide something, think – wouldn’t it cause more harm than good?”

-Blurb of Crisis in the Kremlin (2017)

“The confrontation between the East and the West is coming to an end, but not between East and West Germany. The old party leaders are still sitting in their offices, not changing anything and waiting for exclamations from Moscow. But their end is close – Gorbachev and Kohl have already decided…”

-Blurb of Ostalgie: The Berlin Wall

“Year 1976, the stormy Cultural revolution has died down, hard times of hongweibing and public critics are coming to an end. Old and sick Mao Zedong will soon leave China to his comrades from CPC. The Cold War is coming into a new phase…”

-Blurb of China: Mao’s Legacy

“Collapse: A Political Simulator is a grand strategy game that takes place in 1992-2004. You take lead of your own Party in the face of the total devastation of one of the fictional post-Soviet states in Europe. Try to realize your (or someone else’s) political dreams in the shaky arena of this dilapidated situation.”

-Blurb of Collapse: A Political Simulator

Personally, I have played all four of them over the years, and I have been able to determine the general direction of decisions within the first three. In Crisis in the Kremlin, Ostalgie, and China, most options tend to revolve around the player choosing the most Socialistic, the most Neoliberal, and somewhere in between. There is also the option to choose “National Socialist” and “National Bolshevik” routes, which is very interesting because of the time period.

I might even be inclined to share some of my experiences while playing in later Blog posts. There were plenty of surprises and tricks that I had found to be very helpful while playing. More importantly, there is still plenty of new content being made by the developer for Ostalgie and China as well as Collapse. I am looking forward to the upcoming release of the Yugoslavia expansion for Ostalgie and the new bonus content for China.

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