UK General Election: A Look at the Political Machine Through the Eyes of a Gaming Geek
On this, the day of the UK General Election, people will vote to elect a new leader for the next five years. As campaigning draws to a close, a steadily increasing number of gamers and media folks have given their interpretations of the slogans and manifestos of the main parties to simulate and satirize what may happen when the outcome is announced… in the geekiest way possible of course.
The main party leaders have been comically re-imagined as a booster pack for Blizzard’s hugely popular card game, ‘Hearthstone’, with powers and abilities related to the election campaign. For example, Labour’s Ed Miliband has the ability to deal his opponent a Bacon Sandwich, which deals damage equal to the opponent’s attack value back at them. This obviously references the incident when Miliband was pictured struggling to eat a sandwich and the media backlash looked to have derailed his stance as a serious candidate.
Current Prime Minister David Cameron gains coins for every banker in your hand, a humorous nod to his connections with the financial elite.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, removes enemy cards from the game due to his real-life policies which involve a tough stance on immigration, as well as plans to leave the European Union.
For gamers in the early 2000s, ‘The Sims’ was about as close to real life as you could get without having to actually go outside *shivers*. One clever user has imagined the election as a social experiment like ‘Big Brother’, with all of the political candidates put in a house together and left to their own devices. What ensues is both hilarious, and worryingly accurate in some respects, with Cameron and Miliband unable to agree on literally anything, and Nicola Sturgeon becoming self-sufficient and cutting herself off from the rest of the rabble.
Farage gets a rough ride in this simulation. Shunned at the party, left to fix the toilet. It could be that jumper. It could be his policies. Who knows?
‘Democracy 3’ is a government simulator game in which you strive to achieve the best way of life possible for your land and people by setting up systems and infrastructure. New Statesman decided to recreate and input the party manifestos into the game as best they could, then sat back and watched the different outcomes.
The Conservatives didn't do great. Based on their policies of benefiting the rich and privatising the NHS, the country quickly dissolved into meltdown. Class warfare ensued, poverty and crime increased and the general health of the population collapsed.
Interestingly the Greens, the party considered probably the most opposed to the Conservative agenda, ended up with 100% unemployment and a collapsed GDP. That said, the country was better-educated, more productive and healthy than before, and was almost totally equal. “…indeed, the game deemed the nation a ‘Green utopia”.
This may seem bleak, but it looks like we’re left with one option. It is next year, but it tackles issues such as expelling the human plague from this planet and raising Great Cthulhu from his watery sleep. Ia! Ia!
Game of Thrones
Jon Snow (the one who knows stuff) explains the differences between the main political parties to an American, using the families from HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ as comparisons. Some of them are actually quite fair, with Labour being painted as the Starks (strong connection to unions and the North, dynasty elements etc.), while others are a bit of a stretch, such as Plaid Cymru being the Night’s Watch based on their “preservation of culture and government support”. Considering The Wall is a place where murderers, rapists and scoundrels are sent to serve until their death, Plaid Cymru probably aren't most pleased with this comparison!
While it’s a bit of a concern that you can’t create a female wrestler on the 2015 version, the author of this post doesn’t dwell on it and I won’t either.
A Kotaku writer, Ian Dransfield, created the party leaders and had them face off for the ‘title’. It’s not the first time that someone has suggested this method of election, and while it would be a far more entertaining and engaging process to watch, it’s probably best left to a videogame to put it into practice.
He set it up as a sort of tournament, with each leader taking each other on in a preliminary qualifying round. The LibDems and Greens bow out at this stage, and whther that proves to be the case in the election remains to be seen. This is followed by Hell in a Cell, in which you’ll see death-defying stunts (performed by professionals, of course) such as that above, followed by a final showdown in the car park where one politician shows himself to be a rather nasty piece of work. It’s only a game, eh?
A game we developed in collaboration with the BBC. The aim of this project was to generate an interest in politics in a generation facing it’s first general election.
With over 1.4m registered and experts predicting the highest turnout of youth voters since 1964, the increased publicity of political debate and projects like this will hopefully deliver in their aim to inspire young people to make their voices heard, particularly with the rise of social media