The next game from the creators of Infinity Blade will allow players to assume the role of a cartoon Barack Obama or Mitt Romney and beat up their opponent in a political debate using weapons, not words.
The iOS game Vote!!! awards players with a score that can be converted into votes which can be applied to either presidential candidate in a worldwide run for virtual presidency.
Developers Chair Entertainment teamed up with Rock the Vote and the Video Game Voters Network to release the game for free on Thursday. While a bulk of the title is about running through three-stage battles between presidential candidates, the game also provides access to real-world voter resources and can even walk gamers through the process to vote.
"Vote!!! is everything a great game should be — challenging, rewarding, superfun — and players will find themselves laughing the entire time," said Donald Mustard, creative director of developer Chair. "We're excited to join forces with Rock the Vote to help emphasize the importance of voter registration and encourage gamers to become more involved in the political process."
The idea for the game bubbled up during one of the developer's "Epic Fridays," Mustard said. On Fridays, the studio lets everyone work on side projects.
"We had an Epic Friday at Chair a little while ago and we decided to work on this Vote game," he said. "We got in really early on a Friday and worked like crazy and by the end of the day we had this hilarious prototype."
Several of the developers showed the prototype off to people at parent company Epic Games and they loved it to, he said.
"We had a little time between finishing Infinity Blade 2 and the next big project and we thought, 'Lets finish this thing and make it awesome,'" he said.
It took the team another couple of months to wrap up the title, polishing its gameplay and bringing in voice actors to add Obama and Romney soundbites to the action. While the game is built on the engine that drives Chair's Infinity Blade games, Mustard says it was designed to be far more casual and easier to play.
"It's a blend of Infinity Blade, Bejeweled Blitz and an endless runner," he said.
To play the game, players first select a candidate and then outfit him with a weapon, an outfit and boosts. Weapons include an ice cream cone, a foam hand, and the Constitution. Outfits allow players to dress up Romney or Obama in things like baseball caps, a top hat, or a clown nose. And the boosts, with names like Health Care, Good Press, and Super PAC, add things like health, bonus points or power to a candidate.
Once set up, players fight their way through three stages: A debate stage, the White House lawn, and the Oval Office. While the game's vernacular describes the engagements as "debates," players are fighting to knock down an opponent or avoid being knocked down by dodging, blocking, parrying and hitting with screen taps and swipes.
The object is to go as long as you can during the 60 second rounds without being hit, the longer you go without take a hit the more points you accrue. At the end of the match the points are tallied and players are awarded votes.
Players who earn 10,000 points get one vote, 75,000 scores two and 250,000 or more scores three. A player who tops their high score gets four votes. Players then cast their votes for whichever candidate they want. An in-app score board shows which candidate has the most votes of all players worldwide.
Despite the overt politics of dressing up and beating up presidential candidates, Mustard said the developers went out of their way to make sure the game was bipartisan and silly.
"I don't think it's a political game," he told Polygon. "Our goal was to keep it fun and light. We didn't want to be political.
"However, I do feel it's important to be aware of what's going on in our country and it is important to vote."
Mustard said the developers avoided politicizing the game one way or the other by stripping away any stats in the game's two well-known characters. Instead, he said, the game is entirely skill-based.
"We didn't want their to be any attempt at parity (with real world politics)," he said. "We wanted to be 100 percent neutral."
When asked if he thinks people might take offense to a game that allows you to beat up a standing president or presidential candidate, Mustard says he hopes people see the game as light-hearted.
"We know American politics can get pretty mean-spirited," he said. "We're trying not to do that at all."