Elections for all!

Anyone who says they haven’t wanted to unduly influence a federal election is a goddamn liar. Now, thanks to 80soft, any aspiration you may have had about leaning on the media so they’ll imply Stephen Harper is a pedophile can finally be realized.

In Prime Minister Forever, you take the role of your favourite (or least favourite) political party and attempt to get them into office. The game is a simulation in the strictest sense, allowing you a great deal of freedom in dealing with media, advertising campaigns and debates. Given this, it’s not surprising the game is missing something traditionally associated with video games: fun.

Players are presented with a fully-featured set of political tools and asked to manage the political campaign of their choice party down to the minutest detail. You can spend capital to spin media stories, manage many different kinds of ad campaigns and do public surveys to see what the people are concerned with. The problem PMF runs into is that politics are about as exciting as collecting used nicotine patches and it does nothing to reward players for their struggles.

Political simulators aren’t a new idea, and video-game visionary Sid Meier has proven it’s possible time and again with his Civilization series to create a game dealing with dry material like politics and make it more addictive than heroin-soaked grapes. If PMF had used a more engaging interface than the bare bones charts-and-graphs style it did, or even allowed players to do absurd or drastic things in their political campaigns, it may be easier to call this a real video game. As it is, it’s just a political calculator.

The idea’s a good one, and PMF may very well be the first Canadian political simulator, but without some kind of payoff or reason to continue playing, the only people PMF will appeal to are hardcore political science students or people who live with over five cats and can’t handle too much excitement. It might surprise you how many fall into both categories.

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