Politics - Staff Review  

A Dirty Job
by Mike Moehnke

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Pick One
A Lifetime
+ Incredible customization options
- Changing your stance will hurt in the polls
- Can be the most expensive game ever made
+ Unconventional, highly nuanced battle system
- NEVER engage in physical combat, proxies have to do it
- Polls will rule your life
Click here for scoring definitions 

   So you've decided to start the game of Politics, eh? This is not a game to be begun on a whim, because it will take an enormous amount of time and money to be a success. Losing this game will make you into a laughingstock amongst your friends, and winning will suck possibly years of your life away. The reward is power, and if you play at a high enough level of the game you can gain the power to decide who lives and who dies. Is the enormous starting investment worth the reward?

   There are two parts of the Politics game - the Campaign and the Office-holding. By far the more difficult part of the game is its Campaign mode, and many players will not make it through this. The key difficulty of Campaign mode is that the participants in the Political game are competing against each other, and only by smashing other players into the dirt can an Office be gained. For some low-level Offices no other players will join the game, but for any job of real prestige many players will have to be crushed before a winner is decided.

   The starting costs for a Political game's Campaign vary depending upon the position being sought, but for anything important expect to pay hundreds of thousands, probably millions of dollars. Some people interested in playing the game already have enough money to not be overly concerned with this, but all presumptive players who lack the ability to fund themselves will have to engage in the dreariest, most time-consuming minigame ever conceived: fund-raising. The method varies depending upon the audience one is courting, but it always requires the player to say whatever is necessary to make people give money away. The funds acquired via pandering to the spendthrifts will be used to emblazon your image onto every screen, wall, window, poster, skateboard, ship, disc, and animal within the country.

This man played the game well, but could not win. This man played the game well, but could not win.

   Defeating one's adversaries in Campaign mode takes a different form than that RPGamers are likely to be familiar with. Direct combat is absolutely forbidden, as this will result in, at the very least, lower poll numbers. Instead combat takes the form of verbal duels which are then graded by pundits watching. The object is to make your opponent(s) out to be the greatest idiots possible while making yourself look like the most brilliant option on display. Unless you are very lucky, your opponents will never admit defeat or even admit taking a hit. Victory or defeat is entirely decided by the observers of the verbal duel, and your responsibility is to not let down your guard for even a moment while one is taking place for fear of your weakness being observed.

   The single most infuriating aspect of Politics is how your victory is decided by a lot of people you have no direct control over, The Voters. The stupidity of these people is legendary, and underestimating their faculties difficult, but to achieve victory you will have to hope that your opponents are sufficiently demonized for the lumbering masses or morons to choose you instead of another. There are many ways of influencing the result in your favor, as few voters are not easily swayed by gifts of cash, and the people counting their votes are just as easily persuaded. These are considered acceptable hacks so long as you are not very open regarding them. An unacceptable hack is changing votes or tampering with their collection. Paying people to count the votes in a certain way (via a Swiss bank account) is perfectly acceptable, but tearing up the ballots is not. Keeping track of the rules is quite difficult in Politics thanks to there being no manual, but this adds to the challenge.

These two men were concurrently stupendous successes and lamentable losers.  These two men were concurrently stupendous successes and lamentable losers.

   Eventually the Campaign mode will end (exactly how long depends upon what position you are running for, and where), inaugurating the Office-holding portion of Politics. Your opponents must still be fought using verbal duels instead of physical combat, but you are now fighting them over actually doing things instead of looking pretty to the voters. Fight them too hard, however, and the dreaded Government Paralysis may result. In some nations this will lead to an extended period of doing nothing but yelling at the loudest volume possible by all parties involved, in other nations it will force a new Campaign mode to begin.

   Campaign mode never goes away even when you have reached the Office-holding phase, because pleasing people so they will give money is never finished. It is for this reason that you can never let your guard down, as your adversaries will take any chance they can get to disparage you.

This man probably could not resume the game even if he wished to. This man probably could not resume the game even if he wished to.

   The precise rules governing how effective your stint in the game will be vary from country to country, of course. Some countries are so bored with constant Government Paralysis and/or neverending Campaigns that you might attempt something risky: the coup d'etat. A coup attempt is when you decide to take all the heavily armed friends you can locate, and use their friendly persuasion to be declared the leader. If this fails, your game will most likely end immediately, as will your life. If it succeeds, you will have circumvented all the usual rules and can behave as a Dictator. The most successful practitioners of this job class have been at it for decades, and there is no reason you cannot join their ranks.

   Graphics in Politics tend to be very boring, because they have been massaged to be the blandest things possible by your underlings. If they are not incredibly boring, they are incredibly ugly, because top-of-the-line graphics are more expensive to make when money is better used on throwing them everywhere possible. These visuals are often intended to make your opponents look as ugly as possible, which increases their unattractiveness. Though they are often quite effective at this task, public disgust at their muddy taint cannot be underestimated.

One of these men is trying to become a Dictator, but may have waited too long to do so. One of these men is trying to become a Dictator, but may have waited too long to do so.

   The sound in Politics is incredibly repetitive, and all of it is recycled. Either public domain material is used at every possible juncture, or overplayed rock songs from the 60's and 70's will be heard yet again. If your Campaign takes you anywhere near Alabama, "Sweet Home Alabama" will assault your eardrums. For any location without its name mentioned specifically in song, optimistically generic songs will be heard instead. Singing along is encouraged if you do not want to incite the ire of locals.

   Unless you take the Dictator route, there is no way to actually 'win' in Politics. Temporary victories are plentiful, but you will always have to resume Campaign mode unless you give up. Politics has absorbed many for the entirety of their lives, and they have to keep playing to avoid being kicked out.

   All these strange factors beg the question: why would anyone voluntarily play a game that requires you to give up years of your life and more money than all other games combined? To some, the rewards achieved by playing the game well are worth it. The ability to recoup your monetary expenditures many times over if you can simply avoid the tiresome ethics guidelines is very nice, and many successful players are able to make life very unpleasant for their enemies. Hidden somewhere in the mess are people who claim to be playing the game because it lets them be 'public servants:' this is a very suspicious notion. Any Politics player willing to go through all the garbage in the game will not be satisfied at simply 'serving the public.' In the dirtiest of games, that much is inevitable.

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