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I still don't quite understand who the intended audience is for this thing.

Also, the more it could be like Wario Ware, the better. Those tasks would have been much better 3 seconds at a time.


That was fun. I got 259. My hand hurts.
It had the inadvertent side effect of making me realize just how dull most of the campaign tasks are. But I love that they made a game. :-)


The intended audience is you. Me. Us.

The Howard Dean brand has now been reinforced and connected to an enjoyable pastime. And I didn't even have to play it.


I played the game earlier and thought it was boring, but after thinking about it I realized it suffers from a deeper problem. It's not what I think of when I think "political game"... it's a game that makes hide n' go seek out of political activities. The lack of educational material ("Who is Dean? What are his values? Why should I support him? What is the opposition saying and why are they wrong?") makes me believe the game is geared towards children. To not bore them with details and just get them interested in politics at a young age. ("Why am I handing out these tracks? How does a person get voted into office?" are closer to what the game addresses.)

So, it's cute, but let's not fool ourselves. It's makes a pathetic "political" game because it has very little political about it beyond the title.

Justin: "Dean for Iowa has about as much depth as Frasca's September 12th"

I really must disagree. September 12th provoked thought. Dean for Iowa provoked clicking.


Draigon, I see your point about in-game information. You could call this a game for the faithful, maybe, people who already believe in Dean. Hence the ads running in the lower left corner encouraging players to volunteer, to visit Iowa.

You make a good point - "...about as much depth as September 12th" - I was referring to gameplay depth. I should have been more clear about that - that's an important distinction. Whoops! Thanks.

Jon Brescia

Just a general thing here: Is Howard Dean worth it? What's so good about him? What's good about any of the fellows running for office? I say we're beyond the point of anyone good being able to achieve the office of President. In fact, I'd wager that is is almost impossible for a worthy person to even become a recognized candidate. Dean, Bush, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Reagan, whoever, they're all the same man with a different mask on. None of them are really significantly different, because nobody wants to shake the status quo a bit. Oh, Medicare this and Social Security that, sure, you'll hear some "chatter" about it, but it comes and goes with the tides of the terror levels until everything becomes a mass of confusion and stagnation. I don't even think anybody really knows where to go from here. We're hopping about like maniacs all over the globe, and we're buying sports cars, and we're busy slaving our lives away for various material possessions that mean nothing, ever, to anybody, and we forget ourselves and the truth of reality in the process. I'm not even being religious here. That's something else entirely, something necessitating its own post. I'll keep it simple: none of these candidates knows where to go, and even if one did, we'd reject him outright because we're comfortable, each and every one of us, and our comfort will consume us. Drink beer and get fat. Keep watching TV. I'm here to christen the Good Ship USS Western Civilization on its maiden voyage into oblivion, and all because of pure chance. If only I'd been born a hundred years ago, when politicians still wrote their own speeches, when people might have had some clue as to the nature of reality and the human condition. But, I have ranted too long, and it's too late. I bet this doesn't sound remotely coherent, so I'm sorry.

B. Rickman

This game could have been for any candidate.


"I was referring to gameplay depth"

Oh, right, I misunderstood. Gameplay depth is about as much.

Ben Sawyer

The thing this game does I think is remind you that Howard Dean's Campaign - especially in Iowa and in NH is very old-school.

It's a very person-to-person oriented campaign and if the game reminds his supporters that such tactics in this day and age STILL work and that gets a few more of them out on cold January days in Iowa and NH then it's served it's purpose.

I'm not sure how many people outside of Dean's legions will play it or find it of interest but within it - it may have some GOTV (Get Out the Volunteers vs. Vote) effect. Lets not also forget that the novelty of it could garner some precious free-media which in campaign circles is like gold - even when you're awash in it like Dean is every bit helps.

I agree there could be more strategy to make it replayable. From what Ian told me there are a few and I developed one for the door walking that helped me. I can't say though that my extensive campaign experience helped me. I never got attacked by dogs but I did almost get shot for stepping on someone's lawn once while trying to get ballot access signatures.

So I don't think this game could have been for any candidate. The real draw of the Dean campaign has been it's "people powered theme" which this game reinforces. How would Kerry who's big move right now is to double his advertising buys in Iowa and NH have done with this game? Does he even have any people to power? Leiberman - please?

Another aspect of the Dean campaign has been to feed content to its core supporters at an almost unbelievable rate. This is why they've built such a loyal following and this game is more of the same for them. After a while the umpteenth text blog entry gets a little tiring and this changes it up.

As for the game I found a few problems with it. First it definitely could have used some strategic element even a small one that would make it interesting. The other thing was it could have used maybe more mini-games like dialing people up on the phone (maybe speed dial), or some other GOTV. I like the idea of it being more like WarioWare but obviously there were time and budget issues so lets not pick on it too much. More importantly my first reaction was where are the black and hispanics in this game? But then again people have been saying that about the Dean campaign in general for a while. :)

I wouldn't also knock that this is an officially sanctioned piece. Which I would assume means the campaign might have paid for it to some extent because it effectively is coordinated media. I don't have such details but I'd be interested to knowing how it worked relevant to campaign finance laws.

B. Rickman

I take it back, this couldn't be for any candidate. This "game" could be for any consumer product you like. It could be the "Drink Coke Game" -- hold up a Coke sign, pass out coupons for Coke, go door-to-door and tell people about how wonderful it is to purchase Coke products.

This is a depiction of American politics as a game of warm bodies. Issues don't matter; there's no interest in the process, in the polarization of politics, in checks and balances. All that matters is you to get more people out there on your side, and the winner takes all.

What is more damaging about this game is that it takes warm body politics and it markets it right back to the people who are the main supporters. "We're not interested in dialog, we just want you to go out and knock on doors." That's the kind of political attitude I can't endorse, the one where you draw a crowd by putting up flashy signs.

In the pamphlet mini-game, your goal is to distribute pamphlets to passers-by in the park. There is no meaningful significance to the pamphlet, titled "Common Sense for a New Century", other than as another flashy sign. The medium is the message; for all we know the pamphlet might advocate polygamy and racial cleansing, it really doesn't matter for the purposes of the game.

At the same time, I can understand why Persuasive Games wouldn't want to make the game mechanism itself too exciting. They have carefully framed the game so that there is no winning or losing, only a benchmark and encouagement to play again. You wouldn't want to turn an election into nothing more than a collection of mini-games, would you? But of course that is exactly what they have done, by turning politics into play.


I have to disagree with you, Jon. Not all of the candidates running this time are that same man in the mask. I won't go overboard preaching here, but take a look at Dennis Kucinich sometime, particularly this. He's a very different sort of man.

Now, a lot of people say that he can't win, and maybe you'll feel that way, but no good candidate can win if those of us who are fed up with the bullshit don't try.


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