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More on Political Message Video Games 31

elhaf writes "There is an article running in the Chronicle on Higher Education about the new trend of creating political-message video games for the next round of campaigns. TechNews has commentary on the situation as well. The article mentions that there are actually a few available already, but they mainly just allow opposition-bashing. This is not, I think, to be confused with Serious games, even though both groups seem interested in health care policy."
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More on Political Message Video Games

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  • Sure would be nice if we could READ THE DAMN ARTICLE!
  • Think of it. A deep NSA investigation into the Bush family workings. It would be a low blow but you could turn some of those conspiracy theories into some pretty interesting levels. I would play it.
  • I got in! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jasonwea ( 598696 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @05:04PM (#10680696) Homepage
    Looks like there's a backdoor around the login system. Try the following URL: e= .htm []

    Here's the article text incase they close the hole:

    Video Games With a Political Message
    Georgia Tech professor devises interactive ways to look at campaigns and policy debates



    Playing video games can persuade voters to change their minds on important political issues.

    Startling but true, says Ian Bogost, an assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His passion for analyzing and designing video games has made him a hot commodity for political campaigns bent on creating interactive games that drive home a political message.

    Video-game designers have been creating a plethora of interactive games this campaign season for or about political candidates. Many simply let players vent their frustrations. There's a game called John Kerry: Tax Invaders, which has President Bush's head firing at targets meant to represent taxes that would be imposed by Senator Kerry if he were president, and another game that allows a player to control a donkey that kicks an image of Mr. Bush.

    But Mr. Bogost is one of the leading designers working to make such games more sophisticated and informative.

    A video game on the issue of health care that Mr. Bogost designed for the Illinois House Republican Organization, for example, shows a colorful map of a small town, dotted with icons representing hospitals and other buildings. A bustle of animated characters roam the map, with indicators of how healthy they are displayed above their heads. Players must decide which characters to move to which hospitals. They also have to adjust the amount of money spent on medical research and adjust the cap on damages paid to victims of medical malpractice. The virtual medical system collapses if the cap is too high -- driving home the value and importance of limiting malpractice claims, an argument made by Republican candidates in the state.

    Mr. Bogost argues that games like this, that espouse a policy or political agenda, have the potential to influence voters far more than television advertisements or political debates. In five years, video games will be a staple of political campaigns, he says. Interactive games distributed on the Internet will let politicians "get their message out in a much more effective and engaging and cost-effective way."

    He says the involvement of players is what makes the games so powerful.

    "You've got a player who is learning to understand principles by performing them himself rather than hearing someone talk about them idly in casual conversation," says Mr. Bogost.

    'Cultural Artifacts'

    At Georgia Tech, Mr. Bogost is teaching classes in computing and digital media, and designing courses and doing research in the field he calls "video game rhetoric and criticism," as a member of the university's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. Political games, he says, can be seen as "cultural artifacts, akin to film, art, and literature," and can be analyzed to see how they influence people's opinions.

    To foster more discussion on the impact of games with a political or social agenda, he maintains a blog, called, with a friend and fellow designer, Gonzalo Frasca, who recently joined the Center for Computer Games Research at IT University of Copenhagen. Several times a week the two critique games on such far-flung topics as saving whales, pedophilia, and fitness.

    In a September posting to his blog, Mr. Bogost suggests a change to the game Tax Invaders. He says the game's message might be stronger if players controlled Senator Kerry, who would shoot tax increases

  • Why bother (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @06:20PM (#10681078) Homepage
    Unless you get a really good team together you will probably end up with one of two things. Either you'll end up with a game that no one wants to play, or that no one plays for any political value. The majority of the people I've met who are into politics that hardcore, are not the most entertaining people I've met. I can't say that I'd be too eager to play a game that they come up with.

    If no image is coming to mind, just think of any political science class you might have had in college. Now imagine the kids who took politics VERY seriously, ate it up and had very little to no life outside it. Those are the kind of people that will be pushing for these games most likely.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Sunday October 31, 2004 @07:14PM (#10681442)
      #1. Click as fast as you can to get the malpractice cap down to $50,000 (the lowest it will go).

      #2. Up research to "medium".

      #3. Click as fast as you can to get the "sick" people to move near a hospital and click on "go to doctor".

      Do that and you'll "win" every time.

      If no image is coming to mind, just think of any political science class you might have had in college. Now imagine the kids who took politics VERY seriously, ate it up and had very little to no life outside it. Those are the kind of people that will be pushing for these games most likely.
      Bingo. Their "games" are beyond boring and so easy to "win" once you understand the agenda the developer had.

      Nothing bad happens if you choose the LOWEST cap. There aren't any choices. There isn't any thought involved. This games SUCKS!

      What happens if I drop the cap to $1? Will I start to see "sick" people coming out of the hospital with surgical instruments left inside them? Will I see mutants because mothers were given the wrong drugs? What negative effects happen at the lower levels?
  • by CodeWanker ( 534624 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @06:23PM (#10681100) Journal
    is that the game designers control the parameters through which you experience the world. For instance, you could have a game with a re-education camp you sent people to that made them better citizens. If you lead people up to the idea subtly enough, you could have some people think "Hey, maybe there IS something to it." Or quarantine camps to control an epidemic. Or, more subtly, some kind of research system that said, "If you throw $300 billion dollars at AIDS, you will cure it in 90 days" or something. It's easy to forget that there are systemic limits on the number of people with the aptitudes and inclinations to become biochemists, and that it takes 6-10 years of post-secondary education to get them to the point where they can make some kind of contribution to the effort. It leaves out that mutation is random and might frustrate our efforts for decades or even centuries.

    Of course, in a race like this one the system might be written so that a "magic path" exists to halt terrorist attacks on us: abandon Israel, provide $40 billion in scholarships to Arab countries to study here and the game plays its victory sequence. It's a great new tool for propogandists. That's all.
    • More like the whole idea behind the project.

      As you noted the designer determines what actions "win" the game and what actions "lose" the game. It is pure propoganda.

      Reading the article, I realized that I had never heard of any of the games or companies mentioned.

      From the article:

      Take, for example, a game Mr. Bogost, with advice from Mr. Frasca, recently designed for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Called Activism: The Public Policy Game, it lets players decide how to allocate 10,000 vir

  • by ubiquitin ( 28396 ) * on Sunday October 31, 2004 @06:58PM (#10681341) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, if you listen to what the Vietnam Veterans have had to say about Kerry's actions in 1971, it's pretty powerful stuff. No need for a video game, just go ask the old guy in your neighborhood who came back from the war and had his uniform spit on. There's a film [] that gives some interesting details and background information.
  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @09:15PM (#10682022) Journal
    Kuma\War [] has a game featuring John Kerry. It's called "John Kerry's Silver Star," [] which is about one of his missions in Vietnam.
  • Anything a little too 'heavy'politically should have a label, with a message of intent, else rather then needlessly brainwash our children with senseless violence, we might start brainwashing them with senseless politics!

    Mothers will sue EA, Lucasarts and Infogramms for polluting thier childs mind.

    "My child became a libertarian because of your computer games!"

    "My child became gay because of a bug in Singles!" (although I think it supports this mode of 'co-habitation' not that I looked or even looked at t
  • Having just attended the Serious Games Summit in D.C. a few weeks ago, I'd have to say that the political campaign game people are closely tied with the Serious Games movement. According to Ian Bogost's presentation, serious games can include

    1) games as commentary -- political cartoon-like games, such as Sept. 12, that make brief commentary on an issue
    2) games as rhetoric -- games that attempt to influence opinion, be it a campaign game like "Dean for Iowa" or advergaming
    3) expository games - games as repo

  • I put a silly little flash game on my site: []

    And lots of my visitors have played it, multiple times even. But i think this kinda works because they already (at least kinda) agree with the message of the site. The game isn't changing anyone's mind, but it is keeping them at the site a little longer, and offering something to link to.

    Of course this is different from serious games... But i think there would be a market. Remember how popular the SimCity games were? Those are kinda like p

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