In case you haven’t been paying attention to the 25-hour a day news cycle that has overtaken our nation over the last few months, there’s an election coming up here in the United states, and gamers are a significant voting block. According to Nielsen: 50 percent of all people in the U.S. play computer and videogames. That's a lot of Voters!
Even if you have been hiding under a rock this election season, game developers haven’t been. They’ve been creating a raft of video games that allow simulations of the election process. At their silliest, these games are simple-minded fun for partisans, but at their best, some of the campaign sims have surprising depth and give a little window into how our democracy works. Below is a survey of some of what’s out there for your PC gaming, political junkie needs.
Pork Invaders: As far as we know, Pork Invaders, a FaceBook app, is the first adver-game sponsored by a major political campaign. Pork Invaders is a Flash-style riff on Space Invaders in which the space aliens are pigs (pork, get it?) and are dispatched with a timely application John McCain’s powerful “veto” gun. It makes a ham-handed point (get it?) but it’s fun for a couple minutes.
Presidential Pong: Another silly game. In this CNN sponsored flash game, you play as any of the major candidates in the last election, from Hilary to Guiliani to Ron Paul and square off against your political opponent in a game of tennis. That's basically it. The caricatures are pretty great, though.
The Political Machine: Much like the actual election, Stardock’s The Political Machine is a territory acquisition game in which our country is divided into states and the player battles for the red or the blue depending on which candidate one chooses. While this is a fun game, don't be fooled, there's a complicated simulation under the cartoonish look. In fact, according to the company, the 2004 edition of the game correctly predicted the winner of 48 of the 50 states.
President Forever 2008 is a very, very intricate simulation of the current election, and allows players to create “dream elections.” Like, imagine if Ron Paul ran against Hilary Clinton, or Huckabee took on Obama. If you’re a straight up policy wonk, this is the game for you. It’s intricate and complicated and totally enthralling. It even covers the rock-em-sock-em primaries we all managed to live through.
Kung Fu Election: Just as the title suggest, Kung Fu Election is a fighting game in which all of the big names in recent politics fight each other with chop-socky action. It looks like Mortal Kombat, as the game features photos of the candidates mapped onto kung fu bodies. Yeah, it's silly, but there's something undeniably cool about laying a massive smack down on politicians you hate without worrying about the Secret Service showing up to cart you away.
eLections: This free-to-play web game takes an entirely different tact than most political sims. It’s a board game style application which reminds us of that old classic game Life. It’s geared toward students, and is more about the theory of democracy and modern elections than this election in particular. It’s still a well done, colorful, fun little trip through a national election.
Soul Calibur IV: Soul Calibur IV's build-a-fighter customization option allows you to make passable versions of political figures. Then you can pit anyone against anyone and really see who would win. It's more satisfying than a presidential debate, and, as an added bonus, after this election nonsense is over, you'll still have a fun video game to play. Check out this video of McCain fighting Obama: