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Dictator for a day

On the surface, Tropico 5 is merely a colorful and ironic strategy game, but the game also encompasses a number of political and social aspects that extend beyond the work's banana republic.


The Tropico game series is gradually evolving into a bit of an institution in the gaming world. The first game was launched back in 2001, and since then a number of expansions and updated editions have followed, with the fifth game in the series recently released for Playstation 4.

Tropico is a simulation game that revolves around construction and management, and the game is thus in the family of game classics which Sim City (1989), where the city was to be built, and Caesar (1993), where the Roman Empire was the focal point of a somewhat loose story telling.

The special thing about Tropico is the game's successful blend of irony, humor and complex simulation with political edge. IN Tropico one must take care of the development of a tropical island, where political form can best be described as a dictatorship and the place almost has the character of a banana republic in the more colorful sense of the word. This political toning is obviously chosen to give the game a distinctive dynamic and to evoke a number of humorous scenarios, but at the same time the dictator angle also provides Tropico a special character that seems immediately catchy.

Decisions and impact. Much is like in other simulation games of this variant. The perspective is viewed from above. You have the big overview, can control and control what is going to happen on the big lines. As a god you are almost tempted to say, observe and control everything from the top. Actually, the term simulation game is a bit misleading and in many ways an overly generous term, since the vast majority of computer games do contain elements of simulation, whether they simulate physical laws, gravity or the impact of the effects. Several computer game theorists, including Norwegian Espen Aarseth, have also argued that all computer games are simulation games that precisely organize, communicate and transmit knowledge in quite a different way than more narratively bound media such as the book and the film.

The special thing about Tropico is the game's successful blend of irony, humor and complex simulation with political edge.

The special thing about the type of simulation game that Tropico is part of, may be said to revolve around a review of the decision-making and impact interaction. The game thus clarifies the consequences different types of decisions can have. Cultural theorist Ted Friedman has described games as Civilization, Sim City and thus also Tropico which "Maps in-time», Ie dynamic maps that are constantly evolving over time. And when playing Tropico, one may well follow Friedman's concept. With a god-eye-like perspective, we have an overview of a map that is constantly changing in line with the decisions we make as a dictator. We choose to build special constructions and see them take shape. We choose to allocate resources in a specific way and see the result of this distribution of resources over the longer term. We put ideas in the lake and see the consequences they may have. As such, the universe is in Tropico 5 semiautonomt. We can try to influence it with our ideas and decisions, but we can never know for sure how the universe reacts.

Storhedsvanvid. Obviously, there are objectives in it Tropico 5, many of which revolve around constant growth and development (at that point, a dictatorship obviously does not differ from a capitalist market society), but the fascination of the game often consists in freeing oneself from the objectives and merely experimenting in the relatively open universe. To be able to act as a dictator in parallel with the freedoms it brings can probably seem attractive to most people. Among the dictator's tools are a number of more disadvantaged ones, such as threatening and passivating selected sections of the population, creating contraband routes to avoid taxation, as well as through laws and guidelines to ensure that an increasing proportion of the growth rate can land in the dictator's Swiss bank account.

The developers behind Tropico 5 has also obviously been thrilled to find crazy facts – or myths – about current and past dictators who obviously all suffer from madness of greatness. For example, it is stated that Haitian François Duvalier, also known as Papa Doc, believed his worst rival had been turned into a black dog, after which Duvalier ordered all black dogs in Haiti eradicated. Turkmenistan's first president, Niyazov, evidently had a great love for his mother, replacing the word for "bread" with his mother's name Gurbansoltan. And about Muammar Gaddafi, he says he paid a modeling agency in Rome to deliver 500 female models to a lecture in which Gaddafi tried to get them to convert to Islam.

The developers behind Tropico 5 has also obviously been thrilled to find crazy facts – or myths – about current and past dictators who obviously all suffer from madness of greatness.

To begin with, you are now far from these notoriously notorious dictators but just a fragile island leader. It is deeply dependent on the king of the mainland, who partly brings financial assistance and partly gives a direction for development. The royalists, who of course all praise the king and support his faith, are clearly in the majority, but there is also an infant revolutionary group on the island. It is this grouping that, after a while, should give better conditions.

The ultimate goal is secession from the royal power, but it takes a lot of work to get there, and once that happens, new challenges are in the overthrow, and again, it becomes clear that your decisions have a number of consequences both in the short and longer term. . In the decommissioning, you write your own constitution, which must, among other things, decide whether all islanders should be able to vote (which gave crazy, liberal ideas), whether it should be only men (chauvinistic rule) or whether only the rich would give up a voice and thus pay tribute to the more conservative, reactionary forces. Going for a theocratic, secular or decidedly atheist rule will also leave its mark, and thus – in the midst of all the irony, the colored graphics and the Latin American soundscape – achieves a relatively complex and multifaceted strategy game.

Tropico 5 has previously been released for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. In April 2015, the game was released for Playstation 4. The game costs between $ 300 and $ 450 depending on the edition.


Steffen Moestrup is a game critic in Ny Tid.

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