The Audacity of Hope, for Better Political Games.

Politics in games are usually limited to people-of-history-cameos or one-click “diplomacy” (as seen in Civilization 5 [Civ 5]) but where are the in-depth politically focused games? Yes, there is the election series The Political Machine 2008 (and the original The Political Machine 2004) that lets you run an election campaign by touring the country to raise money, build election headquarters and hire political consultants. It is the one shining star of a barren genre.  If you have an interest in politics that is just merely above the average American than you should buy it ( $9.95) and should more importantly expect to enjoy it.

Civ 5’s diplomacy screen. Where's the proposition option?

That’s it though. Out of the ocean of video games none of them totally embrace the political aspects that make up our divided, dishonest and disenfranchised educing political system. The Political Machine 2008 is like our only beacon of hope in a tea-bagged sea of video games. So where are the other potential “leaders” in the political video game genre?

Some games take aspects of modern day politics and and water them down to make them a bit more approachable – see the Tropico series and its communism/capitalism play between Cold War Russia and the USA. The aforementioned Civ 5 allows you to feel like you are engaging in diplomacy by exchanging goods and gold for alliances but neither of them are political games at their heart.  Again, where are the potential “leaders” in the political video game genre?

The Political Machine seems to be our only leader as of now and it is not known if they will hold up this mantle. The Political Machine 2012 has not been officially announced and the only mentions of its possibility are found in forums. I do find it hard to believe that Stardock (the publisher/developer of The Political Machine) will let the possibility of The Political Machine 2012 slip through the cracks like an election ballot chad. With the games announcement Stardock will receive one of the largest no-cost marketing blitzes in history, the actual 2012 elections. With a game cycle of 4 years and free media attention as well, given to it by the actual elections, Stardock would be crazy to drop this title from its potential candidates of  games.

In asking myself why there are not more politically based video games I have found the answer by looking closer at our current state of political affairs in the United States, and with some help (through comedic therapy and actual insight) from John Stewart ( and Stephen Colbert. Who wants to try to escape to a virtual reality that represents a real world nightmare? Disenfranchised middle class people (more accurately used to be middle class) do not want to spend their free time immersed in a politically based game even if it’s just a virtual representation.

However, we cannot allow our disenchanted state hold us back from hoping and demanding better political games and on a more serious note, voting towards a better political atmosphere.

3 thoughts on “The Audacity of Hope, for Better Political Games.

  1. What a great point! It would be interesting to know the political demographics for people who play games with political aspects. If escape leads to a worse reality, then it’s not escape, it’s sabotage.

    You should design a game to bring the genre back to life.

  2. Perhaps there are few political games because they would be hard pressed to match the real thing.

    • In a world where computers predict hurricane and severe thunderstorm paths, provide military training against artificial intelligence, map out paths to Mars then communicate for years back to earth; I would think (and proven by The Political Machine series) artificial political experiences are within developers capabilities. I think one of the serious hindrances to better and more politically focused games is the lack of interest of the general gaming public and the fact it would not make the amounts or money that Triple A titles do.

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