A Gamer’s Guide to Politics and Voting
In the very first of my Gamer’s Guides, you learned that playing video games had subconsciously given you the ability to endure cataclysmic economic conditions. Perhaps since then you’ve been wondering if there’s any sort of action you could take to influence events in a way that could help fix the problems facing the country, even though you have no idea where to start.
Well, one of the easiest ways to make a difference would be to participate in elections. And it just so happens that those very same video games that gave you the skills to survive a debtpocalypse have also given you the know how to navigate America’s political landscape. Don’t worry if you think you don’t know a thing about politics because you already know everything you need to bring about real change and save the future.
Allow me to awaken the latent Uncle Sam within you with my Gamer’s Guide to Politics and Voting.
1) Know Your Enemy
With rare exception, video game plots are extremely straightforward. You’re the hero. Or maybe you’re just some kid with a baseball bat and a magic yo-yo. Regardless, there is some very clearly evil entity running about doing all sorts of clearly evil things to the local townsfolk/princess/cuddly animals. You know you have to stop them at all costs. You also know that you are the only one capable of seeing this justice done. You’re propelled by the righteousness of your quest. Good versus evil. Nothing could be clearer.
Your mission to change the future by casting a ballot is also equally straightforward. You’re the hero out to save America from utter destruction. There are two major political parties, one good party and one evil party, that you can vote for; Republicans and Democrats. One of these parties wants to do everything in their power to overcome the adversities facing the country and restore this proud land to its former glory. The other party would love nothing more than to see America’s cities engulfed in eternal flames while they dump medicine, Social Security checks, and babies into the San Andreas Fault.
The latter is the evil party, as you might have guessed.
I’m not going to pretend to advise you on which party is good and which party is evil, nor will I berate you on your choice. You’ll have to check your own beliefs and see which party they match up with. Just know that whatever you decide, half of the people in the country will agree with you and the other half will openly wonder how you tie your shoes every day without accidentally choking yourself to death with the laces.
2) FINISH THEM!
Once you ally yourself with the good party it’s time to set out on your quest to defeat the evil party. And by “defeat,” I of course mean utterly destroy. If there’s one thing that video games have taught me it’s that no victory can truly be complete until my opponent has been reduced to a mere shell of their former selves.
Fighting games are the clearest example of this. Mortal Kombat has Fatalities, so that after you finish beating the other combatant (excuse me, kombatant) you can rip out their spine. Street Fighter not only has combos, it has SUPER combos, because why incapacitate your opponent for a few hits when you can pummel them senseless in midair for 30 seconds while they’re completely defenseless?
Even Mario, loveable family-friendly Mario, is guilty of overkill. Think about it; on your way to storm Bowser’s castle was there one single Goomba that you let waddle off the screen if you could get to it first? Of course not! It wasn’t enough just to rescue the princess. You had to decimate the Koopa population along the way.
This lesson will serve you particularly well in the cutthroat land of modern politics, where everything your party’s candidate has ever said and done (and even everything that they didn’t say or do) is fair game to be used as a weapon against them. It’s up to you to lob as many volleys right back at the evil party and pick them and their entire support structure apart (advisors, cabinet members, grandmothers, etc.) until they wish they’d never entered public service.
Then, like all video game journeys, you face the final boss. You’ve made your way through months and months of campaigning to face the best that the evil party has to offer in a showdown so epic it could only be called Election Day. With your last remaining strength you reach into your fountain of knowledge and cast ‘Ballot Pull’. Once you cast this final spell, one of two things will happen:
3a) Press Start to Continue
Wait… what? No, this can’t be right. After all of the time and energy you invested into making this very important decision, your candidate, your party, and your entire belief system are all rejected by the population in the general election, presenting you with the dreaded ‘Game Over’ screen. The fools!
Ah, but we all know the game is not really over. Far from it really. In video games you get to press start and take the fight right back to that final boss, throwing yourself at them again and again until you emerge victorious.
In real life it’s not quite so satisfying.
For the next x number of years you get to metaphorically mash on the start button while the evil party ransacks the system, bathes in special interest money, and brings the country ever closer to ruin until the end of their term. Or, as it’s otherwise known, they govern.
Things you can do during this time period include complaining about the government with your like-minded friends, posting oh-so-clever Facebook statuses, and listening to news sources that not only reinforce your beliefs but also manage to somehow make you irrationally more angry than you would normally be. Maybe you can even attend a rally! None of this will matter, by the way, since your party will still be out of power and fundamentally nothing will change. But by all means, have at it!
Just because your first foray into politics left you a little bruised doesn’t mean that you should give up. There will always be more elections, and the laws of statistics say that if you bang your head against a wall long enough eventually it’s bound to break (DISCLAIMER: Even though I’m a math teacher I don’t know anything about statistics.) Keep throwing yourself from voting booth to voting booth until one glorious day when…
3b) Victory Parade!
You did it! You and several thousand other people actually got your party’s candidate into office! The evil party is defeated, the country is saved, and now peace and prosperity will surely rain upon the land. It’s a brand new day, and you can’t help but feel proud of your achievement. Soon your candidate will sweep into the halls of power and fix everything. Sit back and enjoy the victory parade and the credit reel. You’ve earned it.
The only thing left to do now is…
3b1) Put the Game Back on the Shelf
Let’s be honest. Getting into politics has eaten up a whole bunch of your free time like a Japanese RPG. The constant battle of “he said/she said” between parties has been grating on your very soul longer than you’d like to admit, like so many random encounters that after a while become annoyingly predictable. At some point along the way you just decided to keep playing the game because you’d come so far and done so much that you just had to know how the whole thing would end.
Now it’s over. You won. And the last thing you want to do after beating a game is start right back into it all over again from the beginning. No, there are other games you want to play, other things you want to pursue.
Put politics back on the shelf for a while. Maybe check it out again in a couple of years when they release a new downloadable map pack. I’m sure your candidate will have fixed everything just like they said they would since they’re in no way corrupt like the people that just got voted out. You’ll appreciate the time away, but the experience will never be as fresh and exciting as it was the first time.
Now you’re more than ready to claim your rightful place among the American electorate, and just in the nick of time too. I hear there’s an important election coming up this year, and a certain noble ruler who needs to be defended/evil dictator who needs to be overthrown.