If you feel like you're not getting enough politics from your everyday life, never fear—several virtual worlds out there offer plenty of opportunity for you to practice your campaigning and scheming. Here's a closer look at political systems for three of them.
TERA's customized leadership
Politics in TERA are all about power and control: every 21 days potential leaders face off for control of one of 18 regions and the title of Vanarch. TERA's campaign process is full of pleasant political features and I have to use each and every one of them to secure my rule.
One of my favorite features in TERA is the ability to customize how I campaign. I decided to take on the role of an oppressive overlord, filling in my personal campaign page with a customized PC Gamer emblem and my own motto: Free candy for all noobs! My path to dictatorship had begun. If I wanted to broaden my campaign's reach, I could set up a Facebook page or website that could be linked from my political outline. For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, some regions allow you to beat your subjects into submission by attaining the top position in guild-on-guild PvP.
The customization isn't just there to help me get elected; it's also there to help me rule. As Vanarch, I can choose how my region works, from whether my minions can buy arms and supplies to how much these services will be taxed. The big downfall of supreme power? Being a dictator is extremely expensive and will almost certainly cement your failure in the next election.
Wakfu's balancing act
Wakfu may sound like an inferior martial art, but it's really a cute anime-inspired gem with one of the best law-based political systems I've played.
I followed the current Governor (Wakfu's top elected office) around as he explained that everything is about balance. For instance, he appointed me to serve as his Ecologist and informed me that my duties would be to maintain the balance of resources for all his land. I was able to do this by creating laws around which animals and plants could be harvested. I tend to tear up when I see the delightfully cute Tofus die, so they were put on the endangered species list. Trees are not as huggable and it was now open season on anything with bark and leaves. Each of seven jobs, filled by whomever the elected Governor deems fit for the task, can set these laws to help encourage balance in the world.
That law and resource-based structure bleeds into most aspects of the game. Tax money earned through sales and questing helped purchase region-specific buffs for all players. There was even a law that would take my citizen points down if I tried to assassinate the Governor. Guess I'll have to slay him on the campaign trail.
Perpetuum's optional ease
Politics is as much about warfare as it is elections, and Perpetuum's politics are a combination of marketing, company management, and all-out laser-on-missile action. On the planet Nia, players have the choice to battle for certain areas that contain valuable resources and stations needed for commerce. It's a similar system to that of EVE Online, although in Perpetuum, participation is optional.
I chose to level up my humble corporation outside of the line of fire. I gathered resources, recruited people, and had my industrial bot churning in the profits. The unique ability to level outside of PvP areas gave my corporation a shot at eventually being competitive.
If direct participation is more your thing, it's as simple as relocating to the next zone of Nia, where corporate politics burst out in full heat. On some days it's a little skirmish, and on others a full-on war, but the battle is always more intense because more often than not, everything is riding on who kills whom.
Notorious ways players have used politics in MMOS
Ultima Online's Lord British (aka game creator Richard Garriott) was always seen as invincible. However, one bold character named Rainz pulled off the impossible and slew Lord British with a simple fire field scroll and some pro thieving skills.
World of Warcraft guild The Imperial Order rushed to attain the scepter for opening Ahn-Qiraj on the Detheroc server. However, when the time came to unlock the gates they refused, idling until people paid the sum of gold they wanted.
EVE Online has been host to several market-based disasters, including Ponzi schemes. One such venture shut down suddenly after more than 4,000 players bought in. The scheme's perpetrators stole 1,034 billion isk, which amounts to more than $50,000 dollars worth of 30-day time cards. Ouch.