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Saturday, 25 November 2017 11:06 am

Playing the 2016 US Presidential election

The Political Machine 2016 simulates presidential campaigns

The Political Machine 2016 simulates presidential campaigns

With mere hours to go until the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States of America is over, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the media phenomenon it has become – in a video game.

Video games too have taken actions to parody and commentate on the elections, something that may be surprising to those who grew up with simple and fun experiences like Super Mario Brothers and The Legend of Zelda.

I jumped into a cheap yet entertaining simulation game distributed by Steam, The Political Machine 2016.

Developed by Stardock and published by Ubisoft, it was first released in 2004 and has continued to offer political simulations of each election since its release.

You travel across the USA trying to persuade the voters

You travel across the USA trying to persuade the voters

The newest version offers a wide range of presidential candidates to play as, including the candidates currently running for the presidency and it does it all with goofy looking bobble heads, which is a nice break from the depressing reality that many Americans are facing.

Its gameplay is fun, yet effective in giving a beginners tutorial on the melee that is American politics.

You choose a candidate and an opponent and simulate each week as it goes by, moving your candidate from state to state.

You give speeches, conduct fundraisers and place advertisements; backing up your campaign with Campaign HQ’s and outreach centres.

Every action you take buffs your campaign and your position in the polls. You can choose what to address and make claims such as how you support the war against ISIS or that your opponent is corrupt.

Each candidate has certain skills and stances that make some actions more effective and others not so much.

I played many a game, choosing to run my campaign 26 weeks from election most of the time.

The first few times, I lost track of my previous decisions and was called out on constantly changing my position, which severely damaged my position in the polls and allowed my opposing candidate to steamroll me on their way to victory.

There is also an option to let the computer play as both candidates and, while slightly unrealistic, it was entertaining to watch generally unpopular candidates like Ted Cruz dominating in largely Democrat states.

I got a little carried away with my custom candidates

I got a little carried away with my custom candidates

Of course, I played as Trump. I had to see what all the fuss was about. Suffice it to say, I never gained a lead on Clinton and was trampled on election day.

Classic Trump rhetoric didn’t go down well in the more Democrat-leaning states like California, and after a while people grew tired of my insistence on investigating Hillary’s emails.

Clinton however was adamant on policy and told the crowd what they wanted to hear, something that I was only able to do in my dedicated Republican states. I wasn’t able to break the barrier that Clinton had created in many of the other states.

It also allows you to create your own candidates and I got a bit silly with the character creator.

Candidate “President McPresidentface” had an easy run against his opponent, aptly named “Literally Satan.”

The devil himself found his cowboy robot spider wizard opponent a tough nut to crack and, while campaigning against racial integration and reduction in unemployment, he realized that his wildly popular foe had the presidency in the bag.

Not that I was surprised, I’d vote for a robot spider if I could.

If only choosing a candidate was that easy in reality. Unfortunately, it’s not as black and white as what I created. Americans don’t know who to vote for and the winner won’t be as obvious as my simulations showed.

Victory comes after getting as many votes as possible from the more important states

Victory comes after getting as many votes as possible from the more important states

 

 

President McPresidentface takes the Oval Office with his running mate, Barack Obama

President McPresidentface takes the Oval Office with his running mate, Barack Obama

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