I have finally gotten both my hands on The Political Machine and the time to play it. The Political Machine is a computer game that combines both my addiction to politics and my addiction to computer strategy games. And what that adds up to is a wonderful waste of time. PM puts you in the role of a campaign manager for the 2004 political race. In addition to the very recent Bush v Kerry or Bush v Gore you can do match-ups like Condi Rice v Hillary Clinton or Howard Taft v Arnold or whatever you want. You have all the moves of the modern campaign, including fundraising, speeches, ads, and slimly political operatives. Political issues are done very well. They move up and down in importance depending on the attention that you give them. If you spend a lot of time and money on outsourcing of jobs you can increase both your standing on the issue and how important people feel it is. Fun, cartoonish graphics give the whole thing a light, funny feel.
This game reminds about the line about the dancing bear: “You don't knock the bear's dance, you are just impressed that the bear is dancing at all.” I love the idea of this game and had fun playing it. But, there is a long list of things that I would change about this game. There are no primaries or debates. There are a lot of stats for each candidate like experience and intelligence and I have no idea how they affect the game. I should have different strategies running the campaign of Arnold or Al Gore, but the game give me little hint of how to take advantage of the strength and avoid the weaknesses of each. More depth is needed in almost every part of this game.
That said, it's fun and easy to play and you don't need to be a total political junkie to play. Hurray for the dancing bear!