Monday, June 18, 2007

Political Games (long post)

DISCLAIMER - This is NOT a political blog by another name. The following post is not typical of posts on this blog. It is offered in spirit of honesty with readers and arises from the urge to write on last day of my holiday break. I apologise in advance if anyone is offended. It's just my attempt to engage with a topic dear to my (non-gaming gene) heart.

A week ago I said, "Don't some of our american cousins understand what a bad look they have when the get on their white horses to go fight red demons?" on this post, drawing this response from Maksim-Smelchak. You can see my initial response immediately following his comment (and, before you ask, I know he's a 'he'). I said I'd take up the point in a post.

The synchronicity of the whole event leading up to this post was that, immediately prior to reading the comment, I had been thinking that I'd write a post to do with politics. Of course, I wasn't particularly thinking of my politics (which are somewhere left of hippy - just to make that clear for all time), but instead of a gaming angle.

You see, I've thought for a long time that a boardgame based upon either parliamentary democratic process or electioneering would be a fascinating project to undertake. If done properly, I believe such a game could also be emminently marketable. That thought itself arose while listening to some pollsters on a radio magazine show, talking about present Australian politics (we move through our triannual national election year here in Australia).

I was going to make my off beat political prediction on this blog in the game terms of just such hypothetical game, hopefully amusing most readers, and not too heavy for those with an opinion in the Real Life counterpart of the scenario I'd have outlined.

The predictive scenario / game illustration would have been something like this:

"I take my Pugnacious Leader, making a Big Lie Play as I Strut Across the World Stage by crossing my Conference Card (pre-played at start of game) with a Security Scare, reveal my Secret Link with Big Business, and collect the Industrial Muscle Bonus they provide. This then allows me to Cross the Threshold on the Mugscale and, thus gaining Political Momentum, I take the Initiative the following week and Steal the opposition's Rat in the Ranks Card for my own use. This is followed by the Bread and Circuses Effect of my other pre-played event ('Racetrack Festival'), and I roll into Election Day as Underdog with a Poll Driven Push."

All the terms in Italics would have fitted within the game mechanics. Thus, election on weekend after the Melbourne Cup which itself follows APEC Summit in Sydney. As to who wins - we can but Live in Hope!

Back to the comment - I was talking about our American Cousins with their Red Demons and the Bad Look this creates with reference to the basic ignorance/arrogance seen as typifying americans by many Australians / Canadians / Kiwis / British / Asians / Europeans. At the same time as recognising the fact that there are many good things about the US (or, at least, that some of what it has done in the past has been good) I believe that they would be one of the least popular nations around. This isn't what things were like maybe 20 years ago. No one wants to go there anymore (except for thousands of south and central americans and haitians following the dream).

Once I became aware of the phenomena I started asking people why this was the case for them, and they all responded something along the lines of 'too many americans'. This sounds like a poor and tasteless joke, but it's actually the truth. When I think of the number of americans whom I enjoy their company on the web, I feel sad that things are as they are. But I doubt I'll visit US in the foreseeable future myself, I think my mouth would soon get me into trouble!

I suspect that views of Australians around the world are getting increasingly similar, primarily due to our country's involvement in Iraq and our own xenophobic national policies. I recall how a feeling of shame amongst people with 'progressive politics' grew up about the poor form our country increasingly displayed internationally during the mid nineties - the idealism of the best of our past was being converted into narrow self interest at the cost of those already worse off than us (we are a relatively rich country). I suspect this was a global phenomena, but it was also very personal.

If there's something which would perhaps make us aussies palatable as global citizens it is that same thing that has conistently led a large majority of people to (sometimes quite vocally) oppose the Iraq war. And who, being aussies, will let you know their view if asked. The shame is that the game of politics down here allows war criminals (which is my considered legal opinion about the status of our leaders for their war of aggression if no other reason) to continue to run the show. Would make for a good game if not so seditious!

That was a long vent. If people want to take up on what I've said here, we'll have to sort out another blog or something to conduct that on (interactive blogging?). Let me know if you're interested...

PS - One of the things about maps that has always interested me is their innately political nature, they are artifacts of the power relations within Real Life. Isn't it interesting that I put up a post with maps on it and we end up here?!

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