Being Karl Rove

Nope, this isn’t a post about the not-yet-in-Atlanta documentary, Bush’s Brain. I just got the scoop from Rusty about a new strategy-based computer game, Political Machine, which allows you to run a presidential campaign.

According to this SFGate article, players have the option of running the campaigns of current presidential contenders John Kerry and George Bush, or they can play with other favorites, including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Bored with that, you can bring dead politicians back to life. Strategies include campaign speeches in swing states and appearances on such TV “news” shows as “Barry King Show,” “Hard Hitter,” and “The O’Malley Scenario.” Your campaign hires figures such as consultants, smear merchants, and spin doctors, just like real presidential campaigns! According to the game’s website, strategies are carefully calculated. For example, a Democrat who veers hard to the right may not win Republican votes and could alienate his or her base. After a speech or campaign appearance, you can watch as a blue state slowly turns red.

As Rusty points out, this game appeals to the inner-computer nerd and the inner-campaign strategist. Might be interesting to play, I mean, talk about this game with my freshman composition classes….

Unrelated Update: The director’s cut of Donnie Darko is coming to the Plaza this weekend. Sounds promising. Hopefully I’ll have time to check it out.


  1. Rusty Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 1:04 pm

    I have no business spending any money right now, but this one’s going to be hard to pass up.

  2. chuck Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 3:59 pm

    I have no business spending any money for at least a year, but the game is awfully tempting. I actually do think it might be interesting to play the game in class and discuss it. The only problem is that it would take *way* too long to play (at least two class periods). Not that my students would have any problem with that.

  3. bitchphd Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 5:28 pm

    I have this totally paranoid idea that the game is actually some disguised way of surveying the public, or at least that its effect is to shape players’ ideas about what is and is not politically tenable…

  4. chuck Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 5:40 pm

    Actually I don’t think that’s entirely paranoid. the game certainly frames what someone might believe to be politically tenable. After all, Ralph Nader can’t play, or at least the game doesn’t include third-party candidates.

    And to win, you’d presumably have to play pretty heavily to the center (I wonder, for example, how a contest between Dennis Kucinich and Pat Buchanan would play out).

  5. Lori Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 7:44 pm

    This is what I miss most about being in academia…the freedom to play computer games and call it research (which, of course, it is!). Of course, now that I’m in psychology I can call dating reseach, so I shouldn’t complain.

    If you do happen to check out Bush’s Brain anytime soon, throw up a review if you’ve got time. I’m in dissertation hell and it’ll be gone before I have a free night for a movie…

  6. chuck Said,

    August 25, 2004 @ 8:18 pm

    I’ll keep my eye out for “Bush’s Brain” (insert lame joke here), and will write about it when I get the chance. Still hoping to write up “Collateral,” but now that I’m actually writing the Fight Club paper, I’m not sure how much attention I’ll have to sustained blog writing.

    Dating as research? Maybe I should turn that into my book project….

  7. bitchphd Said,

    August 26, 2004 @ 2:44 am

    Well, obviously I am counting dating (and sex-chatting) as research, though they are at best only tangentially related to what I actually am supposed to be writing about…

    Anything one thinks about is research. In my less neurotic moments, I adamantly believe that.

  8. chuck Said,

    August 26, 2004 @ 11:08 am

    You don’t really have to convince me. I actually consider myself a poor scholar because I don’t watch enough television.

    Of course, right now I don’t even have time to watch movies.

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