Certainly there's betting and gamesmanship in government, but in the heart of Washington, politics often seems more like a death match than a lighthearted game.
High Stakes Politics aims to change that. Described as a political cross between Angry Birds and Jeopardy by its creator, the application aims to recast online gaming for the Beltway set -- and to make politics interesting for those outside it.
"We decided to create games that actually have a bearing, a positive effect on real life, that are also fun to play," Alfred Tom, a General Motors engineer based in Palo Alto, Calif., who developed the game with several friends, told the Alley.
The free trivia-based application works like a combination of online poker, World of Warcraft and Farmville. The screen flashes a series of increasingly difficult multi-choice questions on politics, government and current events. Players place bets, using poker chips, before the question pops up. As in WOW, players level-up based on how well they're doing, and they can purchase PowerPACs in the game to unlock additions that will help them answer questions they don't know. And like Farmville, the game is entirely social. Its creators want players to share questions and their scores through social media.
The trivia isn't random. It's based on current events, with near real-time updates. The day after the first presidential debate, for example, Tom and his team had uploaded new questions based on what the candidates had said.
The game aims to get more people paying attention to politics, in the same way joining a fantasy league often increases an observer's interest in the details of sporting events. Though the game is likely to excite political junkies more than the average Joe, the creator hopes it will encourage voters across the country to engage with the news more substantively. And to keep them engaged, the creators added a twist -- a player's score decays if he doesn't log on to access new questions periodically.
"If they're a voter, they'll actually become more engaged. They'll get more interested in politics. If they decide to get better at the game, they'll have to research or stay up to date with political news."
High Stakes Politics is available now for Android devices and the Nook. Applications for Apple devices and the Kindle will be released soon.