Now playing: abolishing crime and banning booze in Democracy 3

Tom Senior at

The interface for a sim that lets you run a country is always going to be daunting, but Democracy 3's fearsome array of orbs made me want to ALT-F4 and hurry to the kettle for a calming cup of something hot. That feeling lasted only minutes. After the briefest investigation, the quality of Democracy's interface becomes clear. It's a fine example of how thoughtful design can present complex data simply and allow complex strategies to be enacted with simple interactions, like the tug of a slider or the tick of a checkbox.

It closely resembles Democracy 2's layout. Each blob represents a social issue. Hover your mouse over one and green and red spokes appear indicating all of the issues that positively or negatively affect your chosen subject. It takes two seconds to discover that the racial tension, alcohol and organised crime are fuelling violent crime, and that those are being countered by a combination of CCTV surveillance, a well funded police force, education and strict handgun laws. I can click on any of those contributing factors to access sliders that'll let me adjust taxation and alter the legislative strictness around problematic comsumables like booze. Tackling my nation's drinking habit would turn out to be the start of a long slippery slope.