US Gov Sim, short for United States Government Simulation and also further abbreviated USG, is a forum-based simulation of American politics. In addition to crafting and attempting to pass legislation as a member of Congress, players can also take on roles as media pundits, governors, cabinet members and presidential advisors, or even the President of the United States.
The game is played in resets, typically beginning with the last or the next upcoming real life election year with a backstory explaining how the real life American political leaders gave way to the player characters as well as introducing a few basic storylines to start. From there, the players pick things up and run with it. After some time has passed (usually a little over a year in real life time), the game resets. USG is a long runner, currently playing Reset 14.
The game can be found here.
USG provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Any arc that's still ongoing when a reset occurs; parts of storylines that are still ongoing when an admin leaves the staff and many storylines that just don't catch the attention of the players
- Alternate History: Technically you could say that all resets are alternate histories of a sort, but Reset 8 began with a brief, mini-reset period played out in an alternate 1990's. The first few years of a reset also usually have some rewriting to set up the initial storyline of a reset.
- The Artifact: Players who stick around will end up playing different characters. They are typically referred to by the name of their most well-known character, which usually is not the same as that of their current character. When this happens, players can change their posting names to that name and not that of their characters.
- Attack of the Political Ad: Most high profile elections include significant political advertising campaigns, particularly the infamous "negbombs".
- The Bus Came Back: Players will often give discarded characters who have ended their active political career a new life as members of the media or lobbyists, an example of Truth in Television.
- Cast Full of Gay: While not a majority, the proportion of players who are LGBT is much, much higher than in the general population; in addition, many straight players have played openly gay characters. At one point several resets ago, almost half of the US Senate was composed of openly gay characters. Today, this number has decreased and the personal lives of the characters have assumed less importance.
- Celebrity Paradox: Because most players use a real life celebrity or politician as a picture for their character, this has a tendency to happen.
- Character Development: In various degrees. Some players' characters develop into fully realized characters, others become generic stand-ins for the players' own beliefs.
- China Takes Over the World: Played with across the resets. It's rarely played completely straight or completely averted. A certain wariness and coolness between the U.S. and China is present in every reset, but it never turns into outright hostility or a full alliance.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: The other common fate (along with Put on a Bus) of characters who have lost elections; also frequently happens to their former character when a player joins the admin staff.
- Expy: Several players have characters that are unabashedly based on older characters (who have been discarded due to election losses, scandal, or other reasons). Often, players will dispense with the cosmetic changes and directly clone a character from a past reset. Occasionally, storylines and Non Player Characters will be expys of real-life newsmakers.
- Expanded States of America: One recent reset featured Puerto Rico as the 51st state.
- Glorious Mother Russia: Russia is a common adversary in the world of USG across resets, with the notable exception of the most recent one, which saw the United States back the winning side in an alternate-history 1990's Russian Civil War.
- The Great Flood: Reset 9 featured a flood that "shifted the path of the Mississippi River" and wiped two cities off the map entirely and rendered New Orleans uninhabitable without an epic governmental construction project to re-divert the mighty Mississippi. Scarily based on real-life predictions.
- Hand Wave: Often, players and admins have to reference how multi-state "regions" replaced the 50 states as the primary governmental subunit and refer to vague constitutional reforms. Similarly, how real-life politicians managed to all disappear from the political scene (in particular, the current President/Vice President) is often given a brief and cursory explanation.
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: A frequent response to any White House scandal, most infamously in the wake of Reset 5's Operation Purple Lemming, which saw Director of National Intelligence Clark Hayden perjure himself to cover for the President.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Switching parties between the Republicans and Democrats is common, and most of the players who have been in the game for a long enough time will eventually join the other side, if only for a brief period. Everyone's mileage varies regarding which side is the heel and which side the face, of course. In an attempt to curb the "revolving door" aspect, there's a required waiting limit between party switches and a moratorium during elections.
- Hilarity Ensues: Every so often, a bill that wasn't particularly well-thought-out gets passed somewhere and goes into effect.
- One particular incident involved a bungled attempt to cap the price of gas. As soon as the price exceeded that level, due to the added fines, gas jumped from about $3/gallon to over $10/gallon in one region. You can guess how well that worked out...
- There was also the time when Congress passed a bill that briefly threatened to bankrupt the country because of confusion over the difference between tax credits, tax refunds, and tax deductions.
- Rules-based versions happen as well: At one time, Presidential election rules permitted the Presidential candidate and his/her running mate to combine warchests for the campaign. Presidential campaigns understandably have a lot more money involved than do regional campaigns. Two candidates for President did the math on this one primary season...
- In Spite of a Nail: Varies. The news scenarios often have parallels, but are rarely full-out expys. On the other hand, real-life figures often tend to maintain prominence as NPCs decades after they've "left office." Of course, given the massive changes involved in setting up the initial scenario and introducing the player-characters to the political scene, it's more like "in spite of a fully automatic nailgun killing half the US Government"
- Long Runner:
- USG was initially founded in 2001, on Avidgamers. The current incarnation was founded in 2004, and has continued (albeit with periodic resets) ever since.
- One individual reset lasted nearly two years, and came respectably close to getting into the 2030s (having started around 2008).
- In terms of players, there are still several players around from the first 2-3 resets. Several have participated in every round since they joined.
- Meaningful Funeral: Reset 7 had one for President Magruder, which also served to memorialize the veteran player who played him.
- Next Sunday A.D.: The resets begin in earnest at the next upcoming presidential or midterm election. It then transitions slowly to 20 Minutes into the Future as the resets usually last until the 2020s.
- Old Soldier: USG includes dozens of esteemed veterans who no longer play, but choose to lurk in discussion boards and occasionally shoot stories of their past exploits. When one returns to play (almost always briefly) it is a source of much speculation. Their name, "Grey Beret" is both a pun and a nod to this trope.
- Rules Lawyer: Put it this way: there is a pinned thread in the general discussion forum entitled "The Law School Thread" and something like a third of the admin staff are lawyers in real life.
- Serious Business: Players have compared the commitment involved in running in a presidential election to holding a full time job
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The players fall all over the scale. The game as a whole leans slightly towards the cynical side, possibly because more of the staff fall on the cynical side as well, though this is far from an ironclad rule. In addition, there are idealistic elements that are there for cynical reasons (claims about "not taking special interest money" can be made more easily when your opponent isn't getting any money either because PACs aren't being fully simulated; being willing to take controversial stands is easier when you know that you can't lose your House seat, and you can always make a new character if the current one becomes too toxic).
- Unexpected Successor: Often a part of the initial premise to set up a reset, in order to get real-life Presidents out of the way.
- The War Room: Although unseen by most players, one of the most exciting parts of the game and ends up driving much of the news for the rest of the game.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: Whenever Maynard is banned for trolling, someone thinks this
- Your Mom: According to Sykes Law, a minimum of 40 percent of all posts in the Admin forum should involve questioning the sexual practices of other admins mothers.