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Should politics look more like games?

Kyle Orland

You can almost hear the stereotypical, out-of-touch old-timer in your head: "What's the matter with kids today? They'll spend hours playing that darned Grand Theft Auto, but they won't take any time to take part in the political process." Well, maybe the problem isn't with the kids, but with the political process itself.

That's the argument presented in a recent Slate review of Stephen Duncombe's Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in the Age of Fantasy. While open-ended games like GTA offer near-unlimited room to explore and learn, today's campaigns only seem interested in on dehumanizing efficiency and a lock-step, with-us-or-against-us style of support. The reviewer suggests we do away with political volunteers that are "relegated to the role of sign-toting spectator" and start promoting Duncombe's idea of "dreams the public can mold and shape themselves ... dreams that one knows are dreams but which still have power to attract and inspire."

The review is short on specifics on how to do this, but we can think of a few ways to make political support more like a game. How about unlockable bonus candidates if you get enough people together for a rally? Or a create-a-candidate mode where your favorite politician goes through plastic surgery based on a straw poll of appealing features? The possibilities are endless.

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