The Big Three Questions

Choosing a Mission

Choosing a Party

Understanding Your Mission

Playing the Game

1: Draw and ReDraw Map

2: Get Feedback

3: Submit for Approval

Election Results


Technical Difficulties

A: Click on a mission on the mission select page. You may play the missions in any order. If it is your first time playing the redistricting game, we recommend playing the missions in numerical order.
A: Yes. You may play the missions out of order. If it your first time playing the redistricting game, we recommend playing the missions in numerical order.
A: You may email the to suggest a new mission.
Choosing a Party
A: Traditionally political parties play a large role in the redistricting process. To simulate a realistic redistricting process the player (you) must have a political party affiliation.
A: No. You may play as either party.
A: The only parties with a substantial impact on the redistricting process are the two major parties. Other political parties feel the impact of the redistricting process but do not have a large enough national party apparatus to exert major influence.
A: You win by passing each mission. To pass a mission your map must be approved by the three branches of the state government.
A: You are a map designer working for your political party. Your map design must pass the approval process to become law.
A: Yes. You can click the "Mission" tab on the top of the game page to re-read your mission.

A: As of the 2000 U.S. census, 640,000-650,000 is the population range of typical Congressional districts in the United States. Population equality for each district ensures the "one person, one vote" guarantee in the Constitution.
Note: If a state has fewer than 640,000 people, the people of that state still have one Congressional Representative, as guaranteed by the Constitution.
A: Sort of. The Party Head gives you your mission. You are also constrained by redistricting laws and the interests of various citizens and characters.
A: There are various status indicators in the game.
On the Draw Map tab:
When you roll your mouse over the map, a statistics box appears in the left margin. A red X in this box means you have not yet completed the mission objectives. A green check in this box means you have completed the mission objectives.
A green check mark next to a representative means their district is in the correct population range.
A representative's facial expressions indicate whether or not they are happy with the plan.
You may get direct feedback from the reps by rolling the mouse over them - they will tell you what they are thinking.
On the Get Feedback tab:
This tab will give you direct feedback on whether your plan will pass the state legislature, the governor, and the courts. Roll over the people on this tab to see exactly what they are thinking.
A: The three tabs represent three different stages of completing a redistricting map and getting it passed into law (both in the game and in real life). The "Draw the Map" tab is where you make changes to the map. The "Get Feedback" tab is where you get feedback on whether your map will pass the approval process and/or spend political capital. The "Submit for Approval" tab is how you see whether your map is approved and your mission completed.
More details on each tab can be found below.
A: Click and drag on the blocks of a district. Hold the mouse button down until you are done drawing. When you release the mouse button, the game will recalculate the population for each district.
Note: Each block on the map represents one census block.
A: The houses show where each representative lives. You may notice that the representatives get angry when you redraw the map so that they no longer live in their own district. This is because, in real life, a candidate must live within the boundaries of the district he or she wants to represent.
A: The red and blue dots represent party and population density. Red dots are Republican voters and blue dots are Democrat voters. You may also see white dots. These represent undecided voters.

A: Yes. You may click and drag the rep boxes around the screen.

A: Yes. You may undo one map move by clicking the "Undo" button in the lower right corner of the Draw Map tab.
A: The tabs on the bottom of the map are different filters you may apply. The "Party" filter enables you to see party affiliation and population density via the red and blue dots. The "Terrain" filter shows you the map with only the terrain of the state.

A: The box with numbers shows demographic information for each census block. Rolling the mouse over a census block shows you the population and party breakdown of that block. You may want to use this information as you strategize how to redraw the map.
A: You can click "Print Screen" on a PC or "Apple-Shift-3" on a Mac. This will capture screen to your clipboard. From there open any image editing program (such as Windows Paint or Adobe Photoshop) and paste the image.
Share your maps by posting them in the game's online forum at
A: Yes. You may completely remove a district by drawing another district over it. The representative from the removed district will appear on the left side of the screen.
A: Only if you have removed a district or are playing Mission 4. The representative will appear on the left side of the screen and you may place him/her back into a cell to restart the district.
A: Each tab reflects a branch of the state government. For your map to become law, it must pass through all three branches: the State Legislature, the Governor, and the State Courts. You can click on each tab to get feedback on how your map stands with each branch of government.

A: The Get Feedback Tab tells you the status of your map and indicates whether your map will pass the Approval Process. If your map is acceptable to all three branches of government, you should Submit for Approval. If one of the branches is going to prevent your map from being adopted, you may need to go back and redraw the map.
Note: On the Hard Missions - if the Get Feedback tab indicates your map will not be approved, you also have the option to spend Political Capital to boost you map's chances of approval.
A: Political Capital appears in the Hard Missions only. Political Capital is a resource you can spend to influence different people to accept your map. To spend Political Capital you roll the mouse over a character and select an amount you would like to spend.

A: No. Political Capital is a simplified representation of real world influence. Influence can range from simple persuasion, such as educating people on the merits of a map, to an exchange of political favors.
A: Political Capital is a limited resource and must be spent wisely. Once you spend it, it is gone.
Note: You get fresh Political Capital each time you start a mission.
A: No. In fact, saying "no" allows you to explore other offers.
A: A "whip count" is a preliminary vote count that assesses whether your map will pass the State Legislature.
Note: It's called a "whip count" because in real life it is traditionally administered by the minority or majority whip in the State Legislature.
A: You may go back to the Draw Map screen and redraw the map. And, on the hard missions you may spend Political Capital on your "detractors" at the bottom of the screen.
A: The "detractors" on the bottom of the screen are the Congressional Reps of your party, who hold influence over State Legislators. When you spend Political Capital on a detractor it makes them happier and influences them to secure you more Yea votes from State Legislators.
A: If the Governor is going to veto, you'll have to go back and redraw the map to appease him/her. You may also be able to attempt to gain more Yea votes in the State Legislature, until you have enough to override the veto.
A: State Courts will not speak out on a plan until a case is brought before them - hence the question mark. It's very difficult to know for certain how the courts will rule until they actually make their ruling. The characters on the bottom half of the screen will tell you if they are bringing a court case against your map. They will also tell you whether or not they think they stand a good chance of winning.
A: No. The only action you can take to influence the courts is to revise the map.
A: No. You can't influence the activists with Political Capital. The only action you can take is to revise the map.
A: The Governor vetoes the map when it does not suit the interests of his/her party.
A. No. You will be able to return to the map and redraw the lines.
Is there anything the player does on the Submit for Approval tab?
A: No. The approval process is out of your hands as a player.
Election! What election?
A: Redistricting is only important insofar as it affects eventual election outcomes. Election results are due to many factors, but the map you draw has direct influence on the outcome. By playing this game you can see how as a mapmaker you can wield tremendous power.
A: As a matter of fact, you receive a custom designed political button for your participation in the survey. There are two different buttons for each mission - one when you play as a Democrat and one when you play as a Republican. Collect 'em all.
The game should work on a variety of browsers. However you will have the least problems if you run the latest version of Adobe Flash and the latest version of the browsers - especially Internet Explorer and Firefox.
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