Developers of grand strategy simulation Victoria 3 have explained their decision to include slavery within the game.
Taking to their weekly dev blog, game director Martin Anward, also known as Wizzington, started by saying “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 into something that’s less ‘on the nose’. For Victoria 3, we don’t think these options work for us for two main reasons.”
“The first reason is that it was an important political issue of the day and was a major catalyst for several significant conflicts, most notably the American Civil War which would be bizarrely contextless if slavery did not play a significant role in the game.”
“The other, and most important reason, is that through our (population system) we are trying to represent every individual human on the planet from 1836, 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?
This week's dev diary is going to cover how slavery and enslaved people are represented in the mechanics of @PDXVictoria. Here is a look at the institution of slavery in the United States in 1836, which historically ended up as the primary catalyst of the Civil War. pic.twitter.com/MLSjU1w63H
— Martin Anward (@Martin_Anward) September 15, 2021
“Instead, 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. 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.”
The blog then goes on to explore how the slavery mechanic will work with regards to labour and the changing laws around slavery.
“Of course, trying to abolish slavery isn’t likely to happen without resistance either – those wealthy aristocrats who benefit from it have a vested interest in defending it, after all.”
“Paradox Development Studio invites you to build your ideal society in the tumult of the exciting and transformative 19th century,” says the Steam listing. “Balance the competing interests in your society and earn your place in the sun in Victoria 3”.
While there’s no release date for Victoria 3, it will eventually be coming to PC.
This isn’t the first time the team have addressed the inclusion of slavery in the game.
In an interview, developers said, “we are not confident we got it right. There are going to be things that are controversial in the game. And there might be things that we have misrepresented and we will be learning from that and we will be adjusting going along”.