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United States Entertainment Games

In These Games, the Points Are All Political 329

Posted by simoniker
from the win-one-for-the-gipper dept.
bettiwettiwoo writes "A New York Times article (free reg. req.) highlights a new trend in games, and political marketing: openly political games. Both Republicans and Democrats are developing games with political messages, albeit using slightly different strategies. A featured developer, Persuasive Games, is open about their not-so-objective objective: 'We design, build, and distribute electronic games for persuasion, instruction, and activism.' But would that be declared on the games so produced? And would it matter if it did? In such times of artful manipulation, it is actually quite a relief to find that not all politicos are sophisticated high tech geeks: the Long Island Political Network invites you to play... Tic Tac Toe."
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In These Games, the Points Are All Political

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  • by MikeDX (560598) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:29AM (#9579437) Journal
    That the only winning move in politics is not to play?
    • by loyalsonofrutgers (736778) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:44AM (#9579508)
      Actually, that's about the surest way to lose. Remember: politics is the conflict over the distribution of values and burdens. If you're not in the game, that just means more of the former for the rest of us, and more of the latter for you.
      • Don't forget... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kjella (173770)
        ...that being "in the game" also costs time, money and effort.

        "Remember: politics is the conflict over the distribution of values and burdens."

        Politics is a shim layer over the real conflict - the conflict between those who contribute to society and those who consume from society. Not just on an economical level, but also culturally and socially.

        The same effort you could put into politics, you could also put into becoming a creator of value for society. That is power too, as great or greater than polit
        • by Chemisor (97276) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @08:51AM (#9580340)
          > the conflict between those who contribute to society and those who consume from society
          > you could also put into becoming a creator of value for society

          But would you really want to create value for society which only consumes and gives you nothing in return?

          > And even politicians have learned that you don't bite the hand that feeds you.

          You shouldn't count on this. Politicians do not necessarily know which hand feeds them, and they certainly do not know how it does it.
          • But would you really want to create value for society which only consumes and gives you nothing in return?

            Some people have already done something like that. They call their contribution Open Source Software.
          • But would you really want to create value for society which only consumes and gives you nothing in return?

            The entire philosophy of Socialism is that it is possible to persuade people, by whatever means, to do this. The reason Socialism always fails is that productive people soon figure this out, and the non-productive are helpless without them.
      • by doodlelogic (773522) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @07:12AM (#9579929)
        The grandparent is joking. It's a reference to War Games [imdb.com], quite a good hacker film about a computer applying its realisation that it is not able to beat itself at tic tac toe to its simulated model of world nuclear conflict. It realises then that "the only way to win is not to play the game".

        A computer that could perform abstract comparisons of that type would be a superb form of AI!
    • According to that Tic-Tac-Toe game its whoever makes the first move...
    • Middle, bottom right,bottom middle, top middle.
  • by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:30AM (#9579444) Homepage
    Propaganda's greatest victory has been convincing the world it no longer exists.
  • More of the same... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by random_culchie (759439) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:31AM (#9579447) Homepage Journal
    Seems like nothing these days isn't politically influenced. Documenteries, games , news reports. /me puts on tinfoil hat and goes to russia
  • bushgame (Score:3, Informative)

    by infiniteedge (634048) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:31AM (#9579450) Homepage
    you mean a game like this? ;-)
    Bush Game [bushgame.com]
  • Tic Tac Toe (Score:4, Funny)

    by tomknight (190939) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:32AM (#9579457) Homepage Journal
    Well, I guess it's one way to get people to put a cross in a box. More people need to vote..... ;-)

    Tom.

  • nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _newwave_ (265061) <slashdot.paulwalker@tv> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:36AM (#9579473)
    Tic-Tac-Toe...I guess that's appropriate for the intelligence level of most of our politicians of today.
  • People are bored (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suzerain (245705) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:37AM (#9579475) Homepage

    I think I've worked at enough failed dot-coms to know why this is happening. Basically, they've got budget X, to maintain the Web site for these political nitwits, and they have to spend it somehow, so that the Corporate Man will keep the greenbacks flowing next time around.

    So, they have to piss it away somehow, but really...how can you piss away a great big budget just creating some CMS to handle the candidate's boring "news alerts" and other shit that no one reads? Hence, here comes the "brainstorm", and they all come up with the same bunch of tired old ideas to waste the money and justify their jobs that we've all implemented in the past. You know, polls, "online communities", and Flash games! "Young people like games. We need to lure young voters. Our game will be so kewl that they will all like flock to polling booths and totally elect us!"

    And then these stupid little wastes of hard disk space serve to preach to their already converted Beavises and/or Buttheads who are all like "this is so cool...i can like...shoot money with president bush's head...heh heh, heh heh".

    Or maybe not. Maybe it's brilliant political strategy.

    • Re:People are bored (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @07:01AM (#9579896) Journal
      You are partially right. Yes, a lot of companies are just focused on milking as much money as possible out of their customers.

      (Been there. Had the boss royally pissed off at me when I told the customer that, no, they don't need an uber-sophisticated custom solution to solve their problem. "Are you nuts?!! Are you out of your mind?!! We're trying to take their money, not tell them that they could solve that cheaper!!" On the bright side, after that he never took me to those 6 hours meetings any more.)

      On the other hand, I'd disaggree that it is a waste of time. Games can be a very immersive experience, and can get a subtle message accross _very_ efficiently.

      Now I'm not talking about ham-fisted smacking someone over the head with your political message. "Shoot money with president bush's head" is too unsubtle IMHO to actually do anything.

      As another poster wrote, "Propaganda's greater achievement was convincing the world that it doesn't exist." I.e., the ideal propaganda (game or not) is one which doesn't look like propaganda at all. Failing that, you'll want one that can pass for non-propaganda.

      The way I'd design a political game, if I had to, would be pretty much following the structure of a political speech. I also assume a big-ish budget game.

      1. Start with some truths. Not necessarily good for you. Neutral stuff is good. Gets people in a mood to nod to the rest of the stuff too.

      E.g., it's a fact that there's been a war in Iraq. Or it's a fact that there are homeless people. Or that there are gang wars. Etc.

      Start the game with that. Don't even try to colour it it politically, unless it comes very naturally.

      2. Continue with some truisms. Stuff which is technically true, but not necessarily even relevant for your message or in other ways supporting your conclusion.

      By this time you start colouring stuff your way.

      3. Feed them the conclusion. If you did a good job of convincing them to nod through 1 and 2, they'll swallow it too.

      Remember it's about being subtle. People are more eager to believe what they think is their own conclusion, than yours. And it still has to seem a game.

      Don't give them directly something like "vote for us because we'll protect you from evil offshoring corporations." Give them something which might fit the game. E.g., protecting a candidate from an assassin, sent because said candidate is opposing international corporations.

      Don't give them something like "Vote for us, because we'll stop pollution." Give them a game set in a world, which, absolutely incidentally, is destroyed by polution and plunging into anarchy.

      Also remember that games are rather long affairs and played in episodes. I don't think many people sat and played, say, KOTOR for 30 hours straight, from beginning to end. So you don't necessarily want a linear snowing the audience, stretched over the whole game. Several snow-jobs, following the same truths-truisms-conclusions paths, might work better. E.g., one per game level or episode.

      Just an idea :) Of course, it probably wouldn't get past the beancounters and marketeers, who'll likely instead want something which just screams "VOTE FOR X!!!" in your face. But still, just showing that a subtle and relatively effective politically tainted game would be possible. At least theoretically.
    • About dot-coms (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Moraelin (679338)
      This is probably off-topic, but IMHO you're applying the lessons from the dot-com boom in the wrong context.

      It's a different goal here.

      What dot-coms had as a goal, and where they failed, was making money. That was their failure.

      They (or enough of them) did not fail at getting readers on their site. All those forums and chatrooms and flash games actually worked monumentally well to get people to visit the site often.

      The dot-com problem was that noone had a plan to make those people pay. You had a horde o
  • Political games (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:38AM (#9579480)
    You can find links to several political games here. [socialimpactgames.com]
  • by velo_mike (666386) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:45AM (#9579511)
    There's no hiding the leanings of Persuasive Games when the goal is "Strategically place campaigners on a virtual map to reach out to more Dean supporters". In the same vein, there's no hidden agenda with that movie that came out last week, it seems pretty up front in the advertising. It's the messages weaved into the story lines of games, movies and tv shows, the preaching under the guise of entertainment, that gets my hackles up.
    • It's the messages weaved into the story lines of games, movies and tv shows, the preaching under the guise of entertainment, that gets my hackles up.

      Hmm, isn't that called 'theme'? Isn't it, like, let's see, a requirement? Otherwise what's the point of the entertainment? I'd be interested if you could dig up a few books/movies/whatever that completely lack a theme of some sort.

      Maybe I've just been reading too many classics lately, but I'm happy to finally be reading 20k Leagues under the sea! ;)

      • There's a differemce between having a teme, and having a political message or ideology to force-feed you.

        You can have a theme while mostly avoiding politics.

        E.g., probably the most obvious example is SimCity. Even though you're playing a political figure (a mayor), the game is actually not about politics, and doesn't try to convince you that one political side is better than the other. You're not playing a Republican mayor, nor a Democrat mayor, you're just playing A mayor trying to plan your city.

        E.g.,
        • by SimHacker (180785)
          From Designing User Interfaces to Simulation Games. A summary of Will Wright's talk, by Don Hopkins [catalog.com]:

          [...]

          Everyone notices the obvious built-in political bias, whatever that is. But everyone sees it from a different perspective, so nobody agrees what its real political agenda actually is. I don't think it's all that important, since SimCity's political agenda pales in comparison to the political agenda in the eye of the beholder.

          Some muckety-muck architecture magazine was interviewing Will Wright about

        • From Micropoly: The Microsoft Monopoly Game [micropoly.com]:

          Micropoly is the Microsoft Monopoly Game! It's a parody of Microsoft that's fun to play, a free board game based the rules of Anti-Monopoly, and a political statement protected under the First Amendment.

          [...]

          The Goals of the Micropoly Project:

          To make a political statement about the effect of Microsoft's monopoly on the economy.

          To raise awareness of the original folk game monopoly invented by Quakers and illegitimately patented and pirated by Parker Brot

        • You can have a theme while mostly avoiding politics. E.g., probably the most obvious example is SimCity. Even though you're playing a political figure (a mayor), the game is actually not about politics, and doesn't try to convince you that one political side is better than the other.

          I disagree. I think SimCity does show some bias, but probably not intentional. Most of my references are SimCity 3000 based, since that is the one I most recently played, but some go all the way back to SimCity Classic.

          The ga
          • The thing about SimCity is IMHO that, basically, it's a bunch of gameplay decisions to balance, rather than bias. You can view it as either "it proves that low taxes are good" or as "it proves that you need high taxes, or you can't evolve" or anything in between.

            But in the end it's your bias you're projecting, rather than the game's. I could very well play without mass transit, for example.

            Most of the positives and negatives of any action exist realistically, rather than necessarily trying to hammer some
    • Yeah, god forbid they pollute our Entertainment with meaning and relevance.
    • It's the messages weaved into the story lines of games, movies and tv shows, the preaching under the guise of entertainment, that gets my hackles up.

      Why? Are you worried that it will make people think and change their opinions? Some philosophers would state that the whole purpose of entertainment is to make people think.

      Ever since the first story telling all froms entertainment has been coloured by the creator's (or performer's) opinions and politics. An obvious example is the best selling book of all ti
  • Tic-Tac-Toe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beolach (518512) <(beolach) (at) (juno.com)> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:45AM (#9579516) Homepage Journal
    Back in my first High School CS class, my end of the year project was an unbeatable tic-tac-toe game. It had nifty features: Save & load (for those long tic-tac-toe games you can't fit into one session). And I could created save files by hand, so I could load games where the whole board was Xs (or Os), or some such impossible combination. Also this allowed me to be the only person that could beat it (create a save file by hand that was at a point that I could force a win). That was a fun project.
  • by keoghp (457883) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:47AM (#9579522)
    Q> What is the difference between a board game and a politician?

    A> The board game doesn't lie to you.

  • by Young Master Ploppy (729877) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:47AM (#9579523) Homepage Journal
    .....what, you mean America's Army [americasarmy.com] ISN'T political?

    With tinfoil hat on, it could certainly be argued that every game based on a real-life situation is political, at least subliminally - think about it, how many games have you seen where you play a US Army / Secret Service / CIA / NSA / whatever operative, on a secret mission to stop those evil nasty gooks who are hell-bent on destroying freedom (aka USA) at all costs?

    Couldn't it also be argued that every single one of these games contributes on some level to the message "America is great - it's those foreigners you should fear and hate. Stay at home son, and join the US Army!" ?

    Just out of interest, how many games have you heard about where you have to stop domestic terrorists?

    I'm not trying to claim a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate, just that if you take a step back and view it from the outside (confession:I'm a Brit) then market forces have dictated an unnerving consensus.

    OK, OK, I'll take my tinfoil hat off now. Here, I'll even give you a start : -1 Troll

    ;)
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:15AM (#9579621)
      Couldn't it also be argued that every single one of these games contributes on some level to the message "America is great - it's those foreigners you should fear and hate. Stay at home son, and join the US Army!" ?

      But then again, everyone I knew who ever had a copy of Command & Conquer always preferred to play as the Soviets. I played an in-store demo of Medal of Honour - the Pacific war game - and was terribly disappointed that in the excellent Pearl Harbour sequence I could only play as the Americans. I WANT TO BOMB PEARL HARBOUR, DAMMIT!

      Much of the fun of historical war games is what might have been. I want to march into Rome with a thousand elephants. I want to lead the Golden Horde to Paris. I want to hang Washington for treason. I want to land Spanish troops in England and dethrone the heretic queen.

      Games in which you can only follow the glorious patriotic line are just not complete. You've got to have the chance to be the bad guy once in a while.

      • by CGP314 (672613) <CGP@ColinGregory ... t ['Pal' in gap]> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:36AM (#9579687) Homepage
        Grandparent: Couldn't it also be argued that every single one of these games contributes on some level to the message "America is great - it's those foreigners you should fear and hate. Stay at home son, and join the US Army!" ?

        Parent: Games in which you can only follow the glorious patriotic line are just not complete. You've got to have the chance to be the bad guy once in a while.

        I think your use of the phrase 'bad guy' serves to reinforce the grandparent's comment, not contradict it.


        -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
        • well said. "US Army" or "Bad Guy". Hmmm, and people wonder why some countries are nervous of the USA? ...
          Mind you the parent post does make the good point that a valid point of games is try out alternate scenarios within a historical context, "what if's".
        • by meringuoid (568297) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @06:02AM (#9579753)
          I think your use of the phrase 'bad guy' serves to reinforce the grandparent's comment, not contradict it.

          Possibly - though since history is written by the winners, any counterfactual campaign would probably be 'being the bad guy'. One scenario I mentioned that I'd like to play out was the Spanish invasion of England in 1588: it could certainly be argued that England at that time was a rogue state openly sponsoring terrorist attacks, and Spain was quite justified in acting against Elizabeth's illegitimate regime. But the Armada was defeated, and in English minds to this day King Philip was undoubtedly the bad guy...

    • Just out of interest, how many games have you heard about where you have to stop domestic terrorists?

      A further note to my previous post: Deus Ex.

      Of course, halfway through you see the light and join the terrorists. Again, though, I'd like to have had the choice to be the bad guy, to stay with UNATCO - eliminate my treasonous brother, hunt down his terrorist backers and maybe just get something going with the hot cyborg girl...

  • by timealterer (772638) <{moc.emitgniretla} {ta} {todhsals}> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:51AM (#9579540) Homepage

    One of the main challenges I came across in developing a political game [alteringtime.com] was that politics aren't inherently very fun. A racing game or hockey game that leans to the simulation side can still be really enjoyable, but an accurate political simulation tends to be slow-paced and not scale well to large numbers of players. Of course the easy way out is to add fun stuff like assassinations, the mafia, etc....

    • There's The Political Machine [politicalmachine.com] which seems to be a modifcation of "The Corporate Machine" (by the same company), but it's only about the election campaign and is as boring as The Corporate Machine was.
    • What about corporate sponsorship.... Pepsi presents "Electoral Math!"

      The "problem" with politics is that, on a national level, they're more akin to those hardcore war games than anything that's really mainstream fun. Command and Conquer was a lot more popular than whatever the ultra realistic World War 2 battle simulation of its day was. Not that there's anything wrong with that, though. No one wants to need a degree from the Kennedy School of Government in order to do well in a game. The key is just to
      • Are there classes in driving your vehicle off a bridge with a woman in the passenger seat? Advanced swimming? Avoiding Authorities 101?

        Seems to me that a "Kennedy School of Government" degree could be a lot of fun if structured properly!
    • Games can be not about politics directly, but rather reference them. For example SimCity was fun, and had strong elements of politics (setting taxes, keeping the population happy, dealing with the environment etc). I read an article about the Sims once saying that it was inherently a bit right-wing/capitalist, since the aim was to become richer and buy more stuff (rather than the Sims just being happy with what they have). Sure political-themed games tend to be more strategical, but such is the nature of
    • You could do a presidential blowjob game or who assasinated me or how do i spell potatoe or cough up a pretzel before it chokes you game.

      all of those would be fun.
  • by Space Coyote (413320) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:55AM (#9579558) Homepage
    So a few weeks ago the Republican National Committee comes out with Kerryopoly [gop.com], apparently criticizing John Kerry for being rich. Yes, that's right, republicans criticizing someone for being rich. The response? Contractopoly [americanprogress.org] from the Centre for American Progress [americanprogress.org], where you get to collect no-bid Iraqi rebuilding contracts. There's an expression to do with pointing out the splinter in your neighbour's eye while not noticing the plank in your own, I think it might apply here.
    • well, I think it is the fact that Karry is claming to be one of the working class. And to know the problems of the working class, I don't think he can if he is rich. So I think the problem is, is that he is a hipocrite.
  • Bushgame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SanGrail (472847) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:56AM (#9579560)
    Example: www.bushgame.com [bushgame.com]

    I've played it to the end, and the most annoying thing was how long it took to kill the Bosses.

    It's meant to have a ridiculous plot, does have kinda cool graphics, and it got just a bit too preachy towards the end - but the reason I actually finished it was *for* the little info snippets.

    E.g. the presentations on the Death Tax, and the percentage of tax breaks going towards the top 20% & 1% earners in the US.

    The political bias is pretty open right from the start, but what I found really worrying is I'm not seeing how someone else could come up with a more positive spin on some of those stats - other than covering them up, of course. :(

    And last note, the most disturbing thing about the Voltron sequences for me was - the balls move...
    • Tax breaks for the top earners (or you if you get that far) help:

      Draw the top earners to the country. (there's a reason they get so much money, and it's not because there crap.)

      Allow the top earners put more invetment into the things they think are good to invest in.

      and probably a few other things.

      The prople is, when the 'top earners' got there by being in someones pocket, or being the child of xyz and not by being shit hot.

      Oh.. and I'm liberal far left. (In my world you wouldn't have to be in someones
  • by brett42 (79648) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:59AM (#9579572)
    but this [emogame.com] is an anti-bush side scroller. The gameplay is pretty boring, but the intro is hilarious.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:01AM (#9579585) Journal
    Ever since Space invaders. This was a Japanese game, so the imagery is a little difficult for westerners to comrehend, but the metaphors are there for those who take the trouble to look.

    More recently we've had Tomb Raider, which is an ironic campaign against the objectification of Women, (ironically, the irony backfired), and Grand Theft Auto, protesting against the innefectiveness of the criminal justice system.
    • And who could forget the message in Pac Man?

      Stuff your face with pills and chase the ghosts away, it was no accident they turned blue when on the run (blue = police geddit?) But even when you were tripping your nuts of you should remember to eat fresh fruit for the Vitamin C.

      Tombraider as ironic campaign against the objectification of women my arse, cynical cash in on "Girl Power" more like.
      • Tombraider as ironic campaign against the objectification of women my arse, cynical cash in on "Girl Power" more like.

        That's where it backfired. Marketing people have no concept of irony. The designers thought they'd make a strong female character with exaggerated features, and then make her totally sexless. Then marketting got involved and realised they could push the whole sex angle.
        • 48DD tits, hipster pants and skintight tshirt != totally sexless.

          I bet it was more like this:

          Game Designer: Lets make a game that really sells, what do 14 year old boys like?
          Game Programmer: Tits! Women! Naked Women!
          Game Designer: We cant do the naked women thing, lets exagerrate sexual features instead and glove her, should we dress her in corset with suspenders?
          Game Programmer: No thats too overtly sexual and Geri Haliwell would kill us, we could try a minidress with the Union Flag on it?
          Game Designer:
    • Ever since Space invaders. This was a Japanese game, so the imagery is a little difficult for westerners to comrehend, but the metaphors are there for those who take the trouble to look.

      I read Space Invaders as a metaphor for nuclear war. Hiding behind the defences is futile: your only hope is an all-out aggressive strategy, wiping out the enemy before they hit you. And if that means destroying your own defences to get a clear line of sight then so be it.

    • And lest we forget the valuable anti-drug statements of Pac Man.
  • ... one of the Republican [sunncity.com] games???
  • by ooze (307871) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:11AM (#9579613)
    We all know, that today even the process of getting "pure" facts is political.

    I mean, there is nothing wrong with manipulating the process of aquiring and distributing data. I just think it's funny, that those same people manipulating the data, believe in their own manipulated data and base their decisions on that. And even funnier, are wondering why things are not working the way they want. (Weapons of Mass destruction anyone? Or manipulated corporate accounting?)
  • Who cares (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sholden (12227) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:23AM (#9579643) Homepage
    People often write a book in order to convince others to agree with them about something.

    See religious books, textbooks, "popular science" books, travel guides, etc. for examples.

    A lot of fictional works also exist in part so that the author can try to convince others of something (you know the "moral of the story"...)

    In fact I suspect most works of art (using the term art generally) do this. Sure some paintings exist solely so that the painter could try a technique out, but many of them are also making a point be it political, social, philosophical, or just an observation.

    In fact lots of works of art were created with the main goal being the "preaching of a message". See those hollywood films of WWII vintage that were made in order to "raise moralle" and inspire the populace to fight against the forces of evil.

    Simcity says something about the costs and benefits of various power generation techniques (whether it is vaguely correct or not), and "the environment" is certainly a political issue these days. Simearth did so (the environment not power generation) to an even greater degree.

    Making a game in which the "message" is the primary motivator isn't an issue to me, lots of other things are made that way...
  • hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by (1)down (749897) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:41AM (#9579704)
    Cue the debate on if mrs. pacman was a front for womens liberation...

  • get your (Score:2, Informative)

    by Organism (457220)
    anti-republican fix at BushGame.com [bushgame.com]. Requires flash, but quite hilarious.
  • by Snaapy (753650) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:46AM (#9579717)
    Hello,

    Your tic tac toe game is too difficult. I cannot win.

    Cheers
  • by dj245 (732906)
    Do they refuse to hire coders, graphics people, sound people etc, if they disagree with them politically? These people put their heart and soul into the game. I don't suppose the easter eggs from a different-minded employee would go over well.
  • Deus Ex (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @06:15AM (#9579780) Journal
    Note that Deus Ex plot already predicted the government/terrorist cross dependency and public manipulation, in 2000.

  • "Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music." - Kristian Wilson, Nintendo VP, 1989
  • I just don't believe it! The president will be elected based on who has the funniest game? Or at least games are used to influence votes?
    Politics isn't about games. It's all but a game. It people think about politics as a game or is they are influenced by it, then where will this world go?

    Matters are far to complex already on a local scale let alone on a nationwide or worldwide scale.
  • WINNERS DON'T DO DRUGS!

    I remember being told not to do drugs before playing a disembodied face running through a dark maze, eating pills and ghosts. Do they still have that splash screen on arcade games? I remember a satirical rendition of George Bush Sr. saying that on an arcade machine in the Simpsons a while back...

    It would be really funny to see GWB Jr. do a public service announcement like that. "Remember kids - Winners do lots of drugs, clean themselves up to be an oil executive, and become Presiden
  • Tyrant (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @06:43AM (#9579839)
    There was one political game I remember playing on the Commodore 64 called Tyrant [gb64.com]. But there were other ones called "Dictator 64" and "Banana republic" as well

    Anyway, in Tyrant you played the dicatator of an impoverished third world country, which is slowly falling to pieces and going into higher debt and inflation. You had to survive as long as you could before the next cout de etat. The game was *just* about impossible to win. You would try and stave off the coutry's problems as long as you could, but eventually you would bankrupt the country and get ousted.

    Finally, I played the game enough to find out a secret on how to actually MAKE money and become a really wealthy country. I don't think the authors intended anyone to be able to do this, but anyway.... the methods needed to do this in the game were, well,... shocking to say the least.

    What you had to do first was to get a huge army and smash all the surrounding countries with an iron fist. Then slowly convert your army into a huge secret police force. Then convert from Communism to a Democracy and hold elections. Then tax the population of everything they have (100% taxation) until the population was really angry. At election times, you spend a fortune brainwashing the populace to vote for you... and somehow that worked to get you relected again. To counter unemployment and deal with population growth, you send everyone into the secret police force. Crime is not an issue because you've effectively got a big brother police state.

    Somehow the game mechanics let you amass money every year doing that, and you could stay in power indefinitely. So you end up with a police state which conquers all the other countries with a powerful army, taxes its citizens through the nose and takes all its property, pretends it's a democracy and then brainwashes its citizens during election times.

    It shocked me because it sounded almost too close to home.
  • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @06:54AM (#9579877)
    Noam Chomsky's punch out; Do CD (Civil Disobedience) in one of 5 locations and try to get yourself knocked out by state troopers or arrested.

    Sim Iraq - Try to Govern an Iraqi province amidst street wars, bombings, and counter insurgents. Will opening that Liquor store pacify residents or will it create a band of brigands who want to kill you? Find out in Sim Iraq.

    Axis and Allies; The Cost of Empire
    Play as the United States and England against most of the rest of the world. Try to finish your game within the time limit or you may not be re-elected.

    Bill Clinton's Dating sim;
    Includes "Arkansas Governor" and "U.S. President"
    levels. As you raise your profile (and other things) your ability to attract increases, but you'll also face more politically powerful enemies.
    Try our new 'hentai' expansion pack. Includes Asian girls and tentacles.

    Conflict appropriate custom chess sets.

    Warcraft mod pacs to change the characters into political figures with appropriate slogans.

    Bush
    "I'm a reformer with results",
    "Saddam. 9-11. Saddam. 9-11"

    "They misunderestimated me"

    "All your votes are belong to us"

    *and if you keep clicking*

    "Hey Rovie, what do I say next"
    "I'm a uniter not a divider so you're either with us or against us"

    Political Jeapordy
    Any kind of trivia game is easily attapted to any political persuasion. I can see it now. Get Bill O'Reilly hosting "who want's to be a Republican Millionaire"

  • Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by murky_lurker (780235) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @06:57AM (#9579886)
    All the tedium of canvassing in one flash game. And they wonder why voters are so cynical? ;)

    What would be more interesting is if they'd avoided the obvious arcade-style game and created something that made the player think about the consequences of voting yea or nay on a particular issue. There's an old edutainment (yuk) title called Hidden Agenda [maricopa.edu] that puts you in the role of a newly-elected president of a South American country, giving you the chance to appoint your own cabinet, influence policy and make decisions affecting your country. The game is exceedingly difficult, and is thought-provoking precisely because it's nigh-impossible to "win" - every decision angers someone.

    In the same vein, the old Yes Prime Minister [lemon64.com] game showed how policy can be distorted and seemingly innocuous decisions could become controversial in a much more thoughtful manner than these Flash efforts.

    Okay, so the games are probably a gimmick to increase site hits more than anything, but I'm disappointed they didn't see the scope for doing something different.
  • As these games might have an undue influence upon the moral character of our youngsters, and sap the productive hours of our adult labor force, I move that they be banned.
  • The EU is doing this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jsebrech (525647) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @07:01AM (#9579897)
    The EU is launching a game [bbc.co.uk] called honoloko [honoloko.com] that teaches young kids to be environmentally sensitive.
  • by superdan2k (135614) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @07:07AM (#9579916) Homepage Journal
    "How...about...global...thermonuclear...war?"
  • Copyright permission (Score:3, Interesting)

    by femto (459605) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @07:58AM (#9580073) Homepage
    I presume the politicos are playing by their own rules and have copyright permission for those games?

    From the source for each page:

    <!-- Copyright (c)2002 Site Meter -->

    // numberguess is by Lancer - written 4 Jan 1999
    // lancer@kp.planet.gen.nz

    No mention of any open or free license.

  • by squarefish (561836) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @08:09AM (#9580108)
    even have one [capitolrecords.com] on their site
  • Bush Game (Score:4, Informative)

    by SparafucileMan (544171) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @09:10AM (#9580458)
    U want a political game, check
    http://www.emogame.com/bushgame.html

    (its all Flash, btw)
  • Great Games (Score:3, Funny)

    by rspress (623984) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @10:03AM (#9580892) Homepage
    In Huckmaster you play film maker Michael Moore, played onscreen by a giant round blob, who has to wonder around the landscape of Hollywood duping moviegoers that your film really is a documentary and not just a pack of half truths while leaving out facts that could impugn you're own political party. The boss on the last level is an audience you have to convince that "This Is Spinal Tap" was a real documentary as well.

    What, they have already done that....nevermind.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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