Though we have become overfamiliar with the terms, it truly bizarre to think of elections as something a person can win or lose. The process of determining how to organize and execute national bureaucracy has become another vessel into which we can pour our needs to be seen as good, great, or better than the slumping also-rans who weren’t sharp enough to capture the electorate’s heart.
Comedy Central’s Indecision series has satirized this strange paradox and at E3 2K Play revealed a new iOS game that will bring its political comedy into a quizzical new form. Comedy Central’s Indecision Game is a simple trivia contest recast as a competition for control of the American political map. It’s played with two people, each with their own candidate avatar. Each round of play centers on three multiple choice questions. Whoever answers the most questions correctly wins the round and is awarded points that they can use to take control of states for Republicans or Democrats.
Once a player has enough points to control a state it turns either red or blue. The only way to change it back is with a special power called “Smear Campaign,” which randomly flips one state controlled by your opponent. You can also demand a recount after a round to be given one extra point to use toward unclaimed states.
Questions are a wane combination of personal gossip and decontextualized news blippery. What vice did Barack Obama claim to have given up in 2010? What did China give to North Korea to draw criticisms for treaty violation? What public event did Chris Christie fall asleep in?
Just knowing a disconnected bit of trivia adds to one’s luster as a candidate, creating a cloud of seeming intelligence and insight, directly translating into winning states. It’s a cynical view of politics and one that rings especially true in the current American presidential election, with either side vying to turn a spatter of small, insinuating facts about the other into a portentous characterization that categorically disqualifies them.
The questions are dull scraps of news trivia that too easily blend political questions with celebrity ones, but its use of these innocuous little pieces to build a hulking rictus of political cohesion makes the game unique. Answering trivia questions is boring, but doing it for the sake of gaining political control of an entire country–that makes it seem like a kind of personal glory that’s almost worth trying to win.