Benjamin Franklin once said that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all of the others.” Is that true? Perhaps had Ben Franklin been in possession of a Sega Genesis or a Nintendo GameCube, he would’ve considered democracy to be inadequate in comparison to some of the truly efficient (or inefficient) forms of government espoused by the denizens of some of our most hallowed video game worlds. After all, even Russian Communism couldn’t survive under the bootheel of Tetris.

The oh-so-feared Geth from Mass Effect 1 turned out to be just a group of marauding dissidents turned into mindless drones. Why? Because they hated their government! In an ochlocracy, a mob or mass determines the rule for all. Of course, without clear leadership or authority, decisions with two sides tend to split into utter dissidence. If the geth had just found a more appropriate way to oversee themselves, perhaps Saren wouldn’t have so easily indoctrined so many of them.

Princess Peach… how easily you ruin the Mushroom Kingdom! You open the game by delivering a letter to your sometimes-lover, a lower-class plumber, suggesting some indescribably lewd act under the thinly veiled codeword “cake.” After quickly degrading the player’s morals, you are quickly captured by a monster whose species was supposedly wiped up 200 million years ago by an asteroid. And you force the aforementioned plumber to wander through your entire kingdom to find you. And how was your kingdom so easily captured? Is it because your army is comprised of small people with toadstools on their heads? Don’t you think a drug test might be appropriate for your royal guard? Not everyone who is in possession of a castle should be given a crown and a throne.

You finally overthrow that oppressive regime that’s controlled your every move for years… but Joker, even you can’t escape the violent tyrant who seeks to instill order on your goal of ultimate freedom. In an attempt to create a government based on keeping itself out of the private affairs of its citizenry, you find yourself up against the very regime you thought you defeated. What’s so wrong with allowing each individual to pursue happiness in their own context? When that happiness begins to infringe of someone else’s happiness, it all seems to collapse on itself. You let Poison Ivy have the botanic garden in keeping with your doctrine; what does she do? Destroys your entire domain with plant life! And without a a more stringent code of laws, you can’t stop your villainous cohorts from going off on their own without a cohesive or unifying set of goals to prevent the entirety of your realm of falling into the hands of the Batman.

A government should not be based on a religious doctrine that sends teenage girls on suicide missions that over the course of a millennium have a zero percent success rate. you remember how many Americans were up in arms at the failure that was Reagan’s Star Wars program. Imagine doing that for ten centuries. One thousand years under a regime that can’t kill a whale… sounds like Captain Ahab’s fantasy. Throw in the fact that there appears to be no vetting process for potential governmental leaders; Seymour became Maester even though he murdered his father. And everyone just accepted this? No one ever for a moment considered that new structure for government might be beneficial in curbing a hundred decades of terror at the hands of an overgrown fish?

Two rulers… that never works, as evidenced by the tale of Archibald and Roland Ironfist. Two brothers, both in line for the crown, both at each other’s throat. The entire kingdom of Enroth was thrown into utter turmoil at the hands of these two squabbling siblings, and it saw the entirety of its production restricted to slave soldiers. Weekly, castles across the worlds were forced to churn out a specific amount of cannon fodder from each of its dwellings, lest the rulers allow the aforementioned castles to fall into the hands of the opposite leader. Terror reigned, campaigns were waged… two heads are never better than one.

Consider for a moment the state of Hyrule under King Daphnes Nohansen. The majority of his reign is characterized by his existence as a talking red boat. Property values tanked under his ineffective administration of affairs, and by the end of Wind Waker he freely admitted that he and his generation had ruined Hyrule. Perhaps his reign of terror should have been ended by Ganon. Considering what Ganon sought, Hyruleans everywhere should have followed him in a revolution. After all, raising the land out of the ocean seems fairly rational considering the bulk of the Ocean’s denizens lived on cramped little islands, half of which have scary dungeons full of monstrous beings seeking only death and destruction. Being the child of a king or queen does not mean you have the divine ability to effectively rule a people.

Well, that didn’t work out well. The “city” of rapture – if it even can be called a city anymore – is rife with discontent, malcontents, and enough adult content to garner an M rating. Andrew Ryan, in an attempt to implement a societal structure reminiscent of an Ayn Rand nightmare, allowed the greedy whims of both his top scientific minds and himself to create an anarchic hodgepodge centered around children endangerment. That’s right. Chris Hansen would have a field day with these antics.

Hail Caesar! That is, hail Caesar until he’s put down by a local mail carrier. That’s exactly what could happen in Fallout New Vegas should you choose to kill the leader of the largest military body in the post-apocalyptic United States. Caesar not only demonstrated an inability to repair a frightfully nonexistent economic infrastructure, but under his reign, both sexism and classism returned to America with a vengeance. Slavery also made a comeback. Nearly the entire Bill of Rights took a backseat to the greedy desires of a bald maniac with his army of low-rent Russell Crowe copycats. Government may be founded on the barrel of a gun, but even in the post-apocalyptic world of New Vegas one could find at least two better alternatives to living under the oppressive hand of an elderly nutcase with a brain condition.

At best, the Citadel Council was constantly at conflict with all of the races under its purview. At worst, it flat out ignored the demands of its constituency and led the galaxy to its demise. Whether you were a Paragon or a Renegade, your Commander Shepherd consistently found the Council to be an inept and racist body. While flat out refusing to allow smaller races to take a seat upon the council, the Turian delegate even referred to them as lesser races. Ignoring concrete proof of traitorous acts of one of its own Spectres, the Council sought only to promote its own political agenda. A body of law cannot be controlled by elitism and xenophobia.

Shinra clearly could not adequately administer a government. Under the administration of Pres. Shinra and his son Rufus, Midgar so multiple power plants blown up by eco-terrorists, a seventh of its population crushed by an area of ceiling obviously not up to building code, and so much more. A commercial enterprise is only interested in profit. Screw the livelihoods of the constituents… focus on the bottom line! Never mind that property values suffer when a gargantuan eyesore of a cannon is erected in the middle of town under the guise of “National Defense.” Nevermind that the entire planet is being held hostage by a disgruntled employee named Sephiroth. Never mind that half of your staff is being murdered by a failed clone YOU created and his band of ragtag rebels, most of whom you once held in a prison cell. Talk about tunnel vision; big business does not work as big government.

It seems that few fictional societies can survive any amount of scrutiny on their political structures. Every game from 8-bit nostalgia to seventh generation cutting-edge immersion is hellbent on crushing governmental stability under the heel of corrupt leaders, inept bureaucrats, and a player character with an aching for anarchy. What can the world of video gaming do to prevent the destruction of the last vestiges of its storybound regulation from ultimate collapse?

List by scarletspeed7 (01/12/2011)

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