Real Lives 2010

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Demo Download
Educational Simulations

Real Lives 2010 is an updated version of a game that has been around for several years. For those familiar with the older edition, the main differences are considerably superior graphics (including algorithmically generated 3D faces for your characters) and aspects of the game that pull in information from web sources such as Google Maps at times.

Real Lives is almost more an almanac than a game; like Balance of Power, the game contains a wealth of statistical information about the world, including such things as disease rates and access to fresh water by country. When you play, the game generates a character for you at random -- using the statistical distribution of people worldwide, meaning that if, say, a sixth of the globe lives in India, you have a 1 out of 6 chance of being Indian. It also generates a family for you, ascribing characteristics like wealth and health based on actual numbers.

As you are a child at first, all you do initially is click the "age a year" button and see what happens to your family. In addition to things like coming down with tapeworm, changing jobs, and so on, external events like civil wars and famines can occur. Each year you are also fed certain facts about your country, religion, or ethnicity -- not directly germane to gameplay, but then, this is intended primarily as an educational application.

Once you are older, you have more choices, in terms of looking for work or starting a small business, seeking or breaking up with romantic partners, getting married, and so on. For, say, impoverished rural farmers in China, your options are obviously much more restricted than for, say, upper middle class children in the United States. Yet even in the best of circumstances, you have relatively few decisions to make before pressing the 'age a year' button.

If the subtext of Ayiti: The Cost of Life seems to be that with enough microloans and support from NGOs, we can lift the Third World out of poverty, and that inhabitants of the Third World are by no means crippled by circmstances, the subtext of Real Lives seems to be the reverse -- that in fact we are all trapped by circumstances, and that even the "best" decisions are unlikely to change them much. Whether this is or is not a more true depiction of reality I am not in a position to say.

It does mean that as a game qua game, Real Lives is less interesting, because there really is no strategy to play; you make the obviously best decisions you can, and click until you die.

As an educational product, however, it is excellent; the sheer detail and volume of information is impressive, and playing it may have the desired effect of increasing the empathy of privileged Western players for the plight of the bulk of humanity.


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Re: Real Lives 2010

Awesome, I'll have to try this out. My buddies and I had some great lounge nights with the last version.

Wow, you can even still see

Wow, you can even still see the "Real Lives 2007" splash screen for a second sometimes when it loads.

I wouldn't recommend this edition, as the new interface is significantly less user-friendly, while being pretty resource hungry and even more buggy. I can't believe it forced me to change my XP theme to make the graphics work.

Unfortunately since they seem to be trying to disguise how little effort has gone into this edition by removing traces of the 2007 edition from their website, I guess one has no option but piracy if they want to try that superior version. Fortunately since the previous edition was so embraced by 4chan that won't present much difficulty.