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Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - 3:40pm
WASHINGTON D.C. — They call politics a blood sport, a battle royale, a bare-knuckle brawl.
But why use bare knuckles when you can smack your presidential rival with a microphone, light saber or red, white and blue Popsicle?
A new video game for iPad, iPhone and other Apple devices lets players do just that, with the help of President Barack Obama or rival Mitt Romney.
"Vote!!!" comes from Epic Games' Chair Entertainment, best known for revolutionizing the mobile gaming space with its console-style "Infinity Blade" franchise.
"Infinity Blade" games have generated nearly $50 million in revenue since launching in December 2010.
"Vote!!!" allows political junkies (and gamers alike) to pick a stylized cartoonish version of their preferred presidential candidate and then duke it out through multiple rounds. The game focuses on arcade-style fighting and encourages players to keep on swinging for more votes.
The game includes three 75-second rounds. The fight starts at a national debate and then moves to the White House lawn and concludes in the Oval Office. Before each round, players can customize their Democratic or Republican candidate with an outfit, a weapon and an accessory. In keeping with the humorous tone, everything about this game is over the top.
"We have some great outfits like an Uncle Sam costume, Apollo Creed-like boxing shorts, a super hero get-up and even '70s disco duds," said Donald Mustard, creative director and co-founder of Chair Entertainment. "Weapons are also on the fun side with things like an ice cream cone, a rocket pop, a Fourth of July sparkler and a Saber of Liberty, which is the handle of the Statue of Liberty with a light saber coming out. My favorite is the microphone, because when you hit your opponent with it, there's a feedback sound. Accessories include things like sunglasses, an eye patch, a baseball hat, a clown nose, an old powdered wig and a big, handlebar mustache."
As political pundits know all too well, the road to the White House is a long and arduous fight. This arcade game replicates that campaign by going "old school" and focusing on earning high scores with these bouts. Players are fighting for points, which, in turn, unlock votes. The votes come in tiers, so players earn one vote for a score of more than 10,000 points in a round, two votes for a score of more than 75,000 points in a round, and three votes by topping 250,000 points in a round.
Chair has married the gameplay with the vote counting and turned it into a globally connected experience. Using the same technology that allows thousands of players to connect in "Infinity Blade II's" ClashMobs multiplayer experience, "Vote!!!" keeps a running tally worldwide of who's collecting the most votes.
"The game becomes more than just a single-player fight between Obama and Romney," Mustard said. "There's this cool metagame where millions of people around the country will be playing the game and earning votes. If you're actually voting for Obama, then you'll likely be playing as him in the game. So we'll have this running tally of who's winning the election, at least in terms of battling it out in this cool new game."
Using the same game mechanics of the "Infinity Blade" games, players will be able to rack up some seriously high scores through those additional weapons, accessories and costumes. During each round, players will have the ability to pull off a special move such as a back flip or kick flip to hit their opponent and literally knock a bunch of gold coins out of him.
"There's a lot of depth here as you're shifting between trying to rack up as many points as you can while not getting hit, but then collecting gold as fast as you can so that you can then get to the end of the round and can get a bunch of free hits on your rival and knock all the money out of him," Mustard said.
In keeping with the election theme, Chair has partnered with Rock the Vote to encourage gamers to vote in the 2012 election.
"It's our way of having a fun PSA built into the game that is relevant and fits in with the subject matter," Mustard said. "We want to encourage our younger voters to pay attention."
Bringing authenticity to the presidential candidates, Chair enlisted voice-alike actors to add humorous quips to the fighting game experience. Gamers who choose Obama might hear him say, "Oh, yeah. That's what Barack is cooking!" Upon winning a fight, Obama will do a little dance and say, "I'm gonna Barack your socks off!" Romney has lines such as "It's time to believe in America!" and "I've got a good feeling about this one!"
"We're keeping it all nonpartisan and safe but very funny," Mustard said. "It's not too heated. We're not getting into health care or issues like that. These lines spice up the gameplay and keeps things fun."
Making an election fun is no easy task. And it's also nice to have something for free, especially during a time when Democrats and Republicans are asking everyone for donations. "Vote!!!" isn't your typical free app. It runs on the same game engine that's responsible for some of the biggest game franchises of all time. And it brings to life a rich cartoon-style world of politics and deep fighting mechanics, offering a gameplay experience that can be played by veteran voters, and first-timers, alike.
"Vote!!!" is a free app and available Wednesday afternoon.
Editor's note: John Gaudiosi is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Gamerlive.tv video syndication network. He's covered video games for hundreds of outlets over the past 20 years and specializes in the convergence of Hollywood and games.