Kill Screen recently spoke with videogame scholar Jesper Juul about the creative possibilities inherent in failure, something game designers and gamers alike may be loath to take seriously considering the emotional difficulty of processing failure itself. Herman Cain may seem like an odd candidate to showcase the benefits of failure as they apply to a cultural medium like games, but the man did quote Pokémon in his speech bowing out of the 2012 presidential race.
Quitting the presidential race worked out brilliantly for Cain. Contrast his life with that of Newt Gingrich, still technically running for president. Cain now heads three organizations, with loosely defined goals—Cain Connections, Cain Solutions, and the Herman Cain Foundation. At this reception, he will announce a video channel called CTV. Its flagship show, confusingly enough will be called Cain TV. A short preview shows the host, a beefy joke writer named Rodney Lee Conover, mocking the life and loves of Sandra Fluke as a cartoon of the birth-control advocate sprawls lazily and lustily on a dorm room bed.
It compares awfully well to the no-end-in-sight tragedy that is Newt 2012. When he left Congress, Gingrich started founding think tanks and holding conferences that people actually showed up to—the strategy that Cain is Xeroxing. Those think tanks, now Newt-less, areshutting down. Running for president doesn’t give Gingrich space in the media to share his grand ideas. It gets him headlines about being bit by penguins. The life of the professional has-been is sweeter than the life of the has-been candidate.
The odd genius of Herman Cain’s campaign was always how openly he treated it as a game with no deeper meaning or reason. When he mocked journalists’ expectations of how well informed a presidential candidate is by saying he had no interest in knowing “who the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” was, when he released the bizarrely avant-garde “smoking ad,” he always seemed to be testing and probing the rules of the modern presidential race. Then when things started to get too hard with the onslaught of sexual harassment charges, he quit before things could get even weirder. It might be a useful lesson for Newt Gingrich, who’s no stranger to spectacular flights of science fiction fantasy himself.