... things are working again.
(That's all. Just a one-line-and-one-parenthetical-aside post. And it's sort of weird how neat it is that I can make a one-line post without a guilt trip these days.)
It's a waste of pixels, but I approve
I just spent an hour playing the Bush Game, and find myself regarding it as something between a guilty pleasure and a frustrating, brilliant failure. [WARNING: Link is worksafe, but the game is not.]
A brilliant failure? Why? Because it was technically well-done, enjoyable, and informative -- and, at the same time, absolutely guaranteed to not only turn off but also alienate anyone who isn't already a fringe leftist.
I'm serious. Don't click on that link unless you're totally immune to crude humor and also predisposed to hate everything Bush stands for. (Mom, Dad, I know you're reading this too -- especially don't click on that link.) Let's just say that it contains a very explicit (if cartoony) depiction of the Statue of Liberty being raped halfway through the introduction, and while the tone of the game flip-flops back and forth between serious and satirical, it never loses that unrepentant and in-your-face shamelessness.
That's what makes it so frustrating. The game, a side-view adventure-style shooter, is seamless and fairly deeply constructed, with plenty of boss battles and pop-culture references. It ranges from Enron to Iraq and every level is something fresh and new. It's interspersed with several cut-scenes laying out a set of populist economic critiques that really got my blood boiling. But the shock value of the game's crude sexuality means those who need to hear the message most, the swing voters and wavering Republicans, are not only going to get horrified and surf away before reaching any of the actual message -- but are going to leave with a strengthened GOP-driven stereotype of liberals as completely immoral, Bush-hating filth peddlers.
What I want to see is a game like this but without any of the offensive stuff. Not because I personally was offended -- but because the people we need to reach with the political message will walk away scarred by the medium.
The elements designed to preach to the liberal choir were beautifully done, but why make a politically educational game if you're just going to preach to the choir? Outreach isn't supposed to go inward.
What I'd rather see is more people pushing charts that show how Bush's "economic recovery" is all going to profits instead of wage growth -- or making the point, as the game did, that the wage gap between workers and CEOs has grown from about 40x in the 1980s to 300x in 2003. Or perhaps some troubling statistics that show the U.S. really has some deep-rooted economic problems as well as strengths when compared to other first-world countries. Then blowing away the myth that Republicans are better at fiscal management with cold, hard historical facts comparing presidents' performance over the last century. I can go on guiltily enjoying my blasphemous, depraved little Flash games, and the rest of the country can get the reality check it needs about what the legacy is going to be of the latest conservative revolution.
(Okay, and perhaps the game's politics could be woven in with a little more subtlety rather than through lengthy game-stopping cutscenes. Besides the game's blindness to its intended audience, the pacing's my only annoyance.)