Editor's note: Taxes are a pain in the ass — even if you'll eventually get some of your money back. But taxes play an important role in society, as Jeff demonstrates with these five games featuring taxation. -Brett
Tax day is upon us. The line at the post office runs around the block, drinking establishments have extended happy hours, and the IRS offices are likely under heavy guard against Tea Party uprisings.
Fact is, no one likes paying taxes. Some sicko named Oliver Wendell Holmes once tried to convince the American people that taxes are our civic duty, saying, "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society." Holmes may be right, but he's also an idiot. You aren't going to convince the KFC-Double-Downing public with reason and an appeal to patriotism.
That is where I step in. I've decided to help out poor ol' Oliver with the only things that can save a situation like this: video games and a list!
I've pulled together five games that will help you to realize the importance of paying taxes. You might notice something these games have in common: all of them put you in the position of a leader of a military or government. Why's that? Because the best way to win those games is providing for the people who pay those taxes — just like real life.
So without further ado, here are the top 5 games to help you realize why paying taxes are important — and soothe the sting of your own emptied wallet.
5. Little King's Story (Wii)
Little King's Story is basically Pikmin with a "unite the world through war and buy the love of women with gifts" plot that truly epitomizes the American Dream. A huge part of the game revolves around building up the kingdom and keeping the subjects happy. Keeping the subjects happy requires new funding projects and spending money, which can be earned by completing quests or by sending troops into citizens' homes to collect taxes.
I don't know about you, but I find it pretty satisfying to go door-to-door in order to get enough money to buy the kingdom a new Jacuzzi.
4. Civilization series (PC)
Civilization takes the player from the beginning of time to the modern day — and that can be difficult without money. Taxes are not a mechanic that Civ games typically concern players with. That sort of micro-management happens in the background, but it'll rise to the surface fast if your empire runs out of money and workers begin disbanding because they aren't getting paid. Whatever happened to loyalty? I would have paid them back on the first of the month!
Taxes can keep a civilization well lubricated and easy to maintain. Otherwise everything in the game becomes more difficult.
3. Total War series (PC)
Here's one for the hawks on right-wing talk radio. A few of the Total War games require the collection of taxes to maintain the military and thus bring glory to the empire. Does that make it plain? People who don't like paying taxes don't like paying the military. Why do you hate the troops?
Without money, it would be really difficult to pay for smart bombs and torpedo-chasing dolphins. And the United States would certainly be unable to afford new, expensive fighter jets and transport planes to stage operations overseas. The only affordable target left for us to attack would be Florida or Delaware, and that seems counter-productive.
2. Tropico 3 (PC)
This game tackles taxation in a unique way. Tropico 3 puts the player in charge of an island nation, like Cuba. He can then decide whether to go full Castro and turn the country into socialist nation that'll win the favor of the USSR or kiss Uncle Sam and become a capitalist nation with a close relationship to the United States. If the supreme leader decides to lower taxes and become more capitalistic, then he will risk the Russians attacking and taking over the island. One of the only defenses against that is to invite the U.S. to build a military base on the island.
Essentially, if you don't tax you'll get killed by Russians or become dependent on the U.S. for aid. If you do raise them, you'll incur the wrath of Uncle Sam. It all comes back to the green stuff, doesn't it?
1. SimCity series (PC)
Ah, SimCity: the ultimate tax-and-spend game. SimCity lets you adjust the percentage at which you tax the populous. The higher the taxes, the more each person will owe, but doing so will slow population growth — or even reverse it — so that there are less people to get money from. You can also reduce taxes, but then the city won't have any money to expand or deal with disasters. It's fine a balancing act. SimCity makes it more plain that taxes are a necessary nuisance.
Historical aside: The first SimCity had a flat tax. To this day, if you listen closely during the quietest hours of the night, you can still hear flat tax enthusiasts Steve Forbes and Stephen Moore (who look surprisingly similar) clicking away at SimCity, saying, "This is how it should be!"
So what have we learned here? If you like roads, public works, or military spending, then you should probably pay your taxes. Chances are you are going to get most of it back.
And you can then use that refund to drive to the mall and buy more militaristic shooters and sim games. God bless America!