trump cardss

American politics are imploding so you better back Trump Cards

The Republican National Convention, in the midst of the chaos that has been this election, has officially nominated Donald Trump as their candidate for President of the United States of America. This isn’t a Simpsons joke, though it was, once. It’s the world we live in, somehow. While you contemplate that, biting your nails and staring across the room at the drawer you’re pretty sure your passport is in, consider this: there may still be a way to make this election fun and games. Not the actual election, of course, because this election is a nightmare, we live in a…

The Man Came Around

The Man Came Around is a political fable for our trying times

It seems fitting that I’m to write about The Man Came Around today. We’re going through a rare heatwave right now in the UK and a right wing government is currently wrestling us into a headlock. The Man Came Around is the total opposite: set in the frozen heart of an icy mountain, it tells the story of five exiles trying to escape a corporate democracy. It’s the first game from Brussels-based studio Pipette Inc, a politically-charged adventure game that will ask you to try and look after these exiles as best you can. Amid a wave of right wing…


The perverse beauty of streaming the democratic national convention on twitch

Sometime around the moment Barack Obama won Iowa, a little cartoon light bulb lit up above the heads of some 10,000 or so campaign managers and associated staff nationwide. The light bulb was duly followed by a thought bubble containing the words “young people also vote, sometimes.” Since then, every political campaign, Super PAC, and fair & balanced cable news network has been racking its lumbering, collective brain in search of ways to mobilize young voters in support of one candidate or another. So far the only surefire technique is “have your candidate be Barack Obama or Bernie Sanders,” but that…


How to make a good Republican convention drinking game

This American presidential election is deadly serious. Even if one party’s candidate appears to have emerged from a Ronco countertop rotisserie, and his ideas might as well have come from there too, the whole thing is too ugly and scary to really be a joke. The Republican National Convention, however, is a whole other story. When the first item listed on a host committee’s “find a supplier” page is called “The Cool Bus,” at least a few jokes are in order. Before the jokes: Yes, this whole thing is going to be a disaster and hopefully nobody gets hurts in…


Democracy 3: Electioneering is a misguided publicity stunt

In his 1989 essay “The End of History?,” the political scientist Francis Fukuyama, engorged by the collapse of the Soviet Union, claimed that human civilization had reached the conclusion of its sociopolitical development. “What we may be witnessing,” he writes in summary,“is the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” When later pressed for examples of what post-historical governance might look like, Fukuyama generally pointed to the example of the European Union, a supranational entity inspired (in his view) by an attempt to transcend national sovereignty, a defining…

The Brexit Game

Everyone and everything is awful: Notes on the Brexit and the game design of referendum

We have reached the recriminations stage of the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued European Union membership. One might reasonably argue that the whole campaign has taken place in this stage from the start—recrimination is Brexit’s natural state of being. But, in short: everyone’s mad; everyone’s an idiot; everything’s fucked up. Here, then, is Toph Tucker’s The Brexit Game, which is not very good but captures the zeitgeist reasonably well. It is basically an excuse to call other people idiots. The game was coded at a bar and gives you the name of a place in the United Kingdom and the percentage…

egyptian revolution

The videogame that dares to tackle African politics

Videogames have a problem with how they portray Africa—the continent often appears as nothing more than a stereotypical warzone. The most egregious example is 2009’s Resident Evil 5, which included an unnamed African locale with a conspicuously incensed mob united under an unconvincing explanation of undeadness as an excuse for white protagonist Chris Redfield to shoot every local he sees. A more recent slight was the Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012) mission” Pyrrhic Victory”, where combatants of the Angolan Civil War are portrayed as machete-wielding maniacs charging at each other in a dusty battlefield. The portrayal was so…

Homefront: The Revolution promo image

Homefront: The Revolution is everything wrong with America

By the most recent estimate of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there are just under 300 non-governmental militias active in the United States. Though the specifics of their agendas vary, their shibboleth is what’s often labeled “insurrection theory,” the supposed right of the body politic to take up arms against tyranny, no matter its source. What constitutes tyranny is rather open to interpretation—one group, Posse Comitatus, rejects the validity of both fiat money and driver’s licenses, along with more familiar grievances about income tax and gun control—but, in every case, there is a common antagonist: an overbearing, conspiratorial government…


Second Life is the newest front in America’s electoral ugliness

There is officially nowhere you can go to hide from the interminable agony that is this election, especially online. To wit: Cory Doctorow, by way of Motherboard, reports that tensions between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump loyalists have boiled over on Second Life (2003). More to the point, Trump supporters have attacked Sanders HQ, which is apparently a not-that-socialist roman fort. “Peace was shattered,” Doctorow writes, “when Second Life‘s Donald Trump supporters laid siege to the building, firing virtual guns whose rounds exploded into swastika flags at Sanders central.” the toxic discourse around the edges of this campaign cannot be avoided…