Victoria 3 devs on handling slavery in a historical strategy game

The chains of slaves are broken as they're set free
(Image credit: Paradox)

Victoria 3 is an ambitious game, a long-awaited sequel that aims to simulate the entire population of the world in the 1800s. In a recent blog post, the developers addressed their implementation of slavery in this grand strategy game in greater detail than they have before.

Lead developer Martin Anward posted the diary, making it clear that slavery is in no way glorified in Victoria 3. "Slavery is, obviously, a horrific crime against humanity and precisely for this reason, many games that have a slavery-related setting or mechanics will either leave it out of the game or abstract it", he wrote.

The developers of Victoria 3 have chosen a different path, including enslaved people as population units in the game. "Through our Pop system we are trying to represent every individual human on the planet from 1836," wrote Anward, "so what statement would we be making if we simply wrote all enslaved individuals out of history, or reduced them into an abstract set of modifiers?"

The developer diary was accompanied by a handful of work-in-progress shots of game screens relating to slavery.

The full developer diary details how slavery is handled in Victoria 3, describing the laws and systems that allow or enable slavery in a nation. Nations with differing laws on slavery will inevitably come into conflict, as will abolitionist factions within nations that legalize slavery—as will the enslaved people themselves, who will, just as in real history, not take their suffering lying down. Economically, the existence of enslaved populations will generally serve to enrich the elite enslavers at the expense of the rest of the population.

Anward described the philosophy very succinctly. "Our aim is to try and represent the institution, systems and causes of slavery, as well as the people who lived under and fought against it, as close to history as we can get it", he wrote. "We simply believe this to be the most respectful way for us to handle this topic, as well as the way that's most true to the game Victoria 3 aspires to be."

Anward has previously said that their representation of the time period may have issues, and that the Paradox team would remain open to feedback during and after development.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.