You have to admire the chutzpah of the idea of convincing voters that they should vote for a candidate through an arcade game rip-off of Space Invaders, because it's simply ludicrous coming from a candidate who has declared he doesn't even know how to "use a computer." Aaron Jacobs-Smith of The New Politics Institute wrote up his encounter with John McCain's "Pork Invaders" game, which fervent McCainiacs can embed in their Facebook pages:
I just blasted away close to $2.8 billion in pork-barrel spending in three minutes using veto lasers and I'm only on level 2 with 4 McCains left. Not too shabby, right?
Scintillating. They must be congratulating themselves at McCain HQ for this! I particularly like the red vetos the McCains shoot skyward. Not to mention that there are both pigs and barrels labeled "pork," which leaves me wondering what government spending is okay with McCain. He's certainly been pro-spending on something, such as the economic stimulus package. Imagine, if we stockpile enough McCains we can tackle the Social Security actuarial quandary! Oh, yeah, this is real life, and not the 1980s.
Let's think about this game from a user design perspective. Seriously, shouldn't there be something positive about voting for him, not just a rain of pigs and barrels to shoot? The guy's not going to be just a veto machine. A little more depth of game play is required to represent the presidential race.
Not to judge McCain's policies. I'm really just saying it's badly designed game experience if you want to create a positive impression of a political candidate. But what's the point of distributing a Facebook app that reduces the whole election to one hackneyed issue? Shouldn't there be levels? If I beat the budget, how about I get a shot at Osama bin Laden? I want to get to the level where Barack Obama struggles with the question of faith-based initiatives (They could use PacMan for that one).
Wait till Level 23: Homelessness. Wow, that's a virtual showdown the kids are going to love. Maybe the McCain campaign will come up an old Doom level for the homeless where you drive them off the streets with a fire hose. "Grrr, homeless!" Splat!
But I digress.
Jacobs-Smith makes the salient point that choosing a game from the 80s only underscores the candidate's age and the wide gap between him and the majority of citizens who will be living long after he's gone with whatever economic plan McCain comes up with that doesn't involve pixel-based realities. It is also a bald straight line for the late-night comics. Imagine Jon Stewart introducing Senator McCain to a computer running this game on-air.
Wait, what if the software just addressed the "purpose" of Facebook—how about joining with other voters to do something. This game suggests Senator McCain is a one-man solution to America's problems (okay, really only the solution to pork barrel spending), when what we need is a more engaged citizenry. This innertubes thing is for connecting people, not just to occupy our time whilst the country disintegrates.
"Here's a game, kids. See, I care about your future, too."
Gawd, don't just sit there playing games, go vote, for whomever earns your vote with a serious discussion of the issues.