What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Political Machine 2012 is a political simulation/strategy game that lets players get a feel for campaign life. Players pick a political figure (ranging from the current presidential candidates to political -- and non-political -- figures from the news) from either the Republican or Democratic Party or create one of their own and attempt to win votes around the country. While there are no direct references to sex or violence, the issues on the campaign are some of the real ones facing candidates today, including troop withdrawals and gay marriage, which might be a bit much for younger players. It's also the player's call as to which way the campaign will run: on the issues or focused on attacking opponents. There's a multiplayer mode with lobby chat functionality that could expose kids to inappropriate language.
What kids can learn
- the economy
- power structures
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
Responsibility & Ethics
- learning from consequences
- fiscal responsibility
Engagement, Approach, Support
What's it about?
Players can run the campaign they want to see in The Political Machine 2012. Whether it's issue-focused or an out-and-out brawl, they get to set the tone as they try to sway voters. Candidates will fly to the state of their choice, where they can create an ad for newspaper, radio, or TV (helping to boost awareness of their stance on an issue), give a speech on the issue of their choice (with topics ranging from unemployment to video game violence), fundraise, build a headquarters (to help bring in money and build political capital), or lobby special interest groups.
The game shows critical information such as electoral votes, your awareness level, and the top issues of that state to help guide your campaign. After you've decided on your candidate and opponent (or made your own), you start campaigning, with each turn representing a week. Every action in the game costs stamina (of which you have a limited amount per week) and cash, meaning players must decide on how best to use their resources.
Is it any good?
The Political Machine 2012 won't turn people who can't stand politics into political animals, but if you've got even a passing interest in the process of governing, it's a fun (and semi-educational) look at how leaders are selected. There are a lot of moving parts to keep up with -- from finances to political operatives to endorsements to stump speeches -- but it's well organized and never becomes overwhelming. Political Machine 2012 lets players focus on how best to communicate with voters. Do your views mesh with theirs? Should you pander? Should you go on the offense and run a vicious attack campaign? The strength of the game is you have the opportunity to do each and see which is the most effective way to win.
And while it's fun to run as Obama and Romney, it's equally fun to play "what if" scenarios -- such as if Donald Trump or Michelle Obama were the candidates instead. It may not predict the results of November, but it will put you in control of the candidates, if only for a short while.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the issues the game presents. What's more important to kids? Healthcare? The economy? Taxes? The environment?
Did you think this game taught you more about the political process? Do you like playing games that teach about history and civics?