Noah J Nelson on Wednesday, Oct. 3rd
On the way into the office today I caught the back half of a discussion with game designer Ian Bogost of Persuasive Games on KPCC’s Take Two. The topic: video games and the election. Two things very dear to me, even if they both drive me crazy. Sadly the conversation hasn’t been archived yet, but I managed to take some mental notes while driving about some of the games.
MTV has a Fantasy Election game, a twist on Fantasy Football leagues. Players field a team of politicians and score points based on transparency, honesty and the like. They didn’t get into the ethics of how those traits are scored– and that’s the real trick here, isn’t it?
Bogost brought up an update of the game Truth Invaders, which used to feature false statements from across the political spectrum. The devs changed it up this year and now focus exclusivley on Mitt Romney. Why? From their FAQ:
We got fed up.
See, On August 28, 2012, reporters called out the Romney campaign for a political ad so misleading that the New York Times labeled it “false”. The Romney campaign’s response?
“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” – Neil Newhouse
Not “we stand by what we said.” Not “that’s their opinion.” Not even “blah, blah, blah liberal media bias.”
“We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”
Well, we’re not going to let our video game be dictated by false equivalencies. We’re not going to shrug that off as “all politicians lie”. We’re going to call it what it is: a campaign that doesn’t care if what they say is true. In 2008 they were bad. In 2012 they are worse.
Truth Invaders is Space Invaders, but instead of aliens players blast spin and other falsehoods to reveal an underlying truth. One catch: the game itself doesn’t source the “truths”. Having played a round or two I can say that the “truths” do appear to be factual… but it’s still frustrating to see fact checking messages left unsourced.
The last to stick in my head was Vote!!! The Game, a fighting game from the creators of the Infinity Blade series of games. This tablet game pits President Obama– in a series of whacky outfits– against Mitt Romney– in a series of whacky outfits smacking the smack talk out of each other with microphones and other weird objects. It’s an absurd set-up that uses the Infinity Blade game mechanics and exists primarily as a means to channel gamers to voter registration sites.
It may not be the kind of digital electoral revolution that futurists dream of, but hey, it’s a start.