Foes of President Barack Obama and his policies can vent their frustrations by engaging in fictional warfare, thanks to a new online strategy game with a heavy political component.
The satirical game 2011: Obama's Coup Fails, launched last month by a group of Ron Paul supporters that call themselves The Founders, throws players into combat against the crumbling Marxist forces of Obama's loyalist Black Tigers, the Islamic fundamentalist Nation of Malsi and The Cong — a group of deposed Democratic congressional leaders.
Playable on the United States of Earth website, the game mixes strategy, trivia questions and community elements but has no particular ax to grind with Obama, according to Mike Lodispoto, one of the game's Libertarian founders. In fact, the next United States of Earth game will target President George W. Bush.
"We detest Republicans and Democrats alike," Lodispoto told .com in an e-mail interview. The site was cooked up by Libertarians, but Lodispoto says United States of Earth employees are both Republicans and Democrats.
"We allow the right and left to come up with [game's] scenarios, the first being the 2011 Obama Coup one made by right-wingers but tempered by us Libertarians," he said. "This scenario came out first to capitalize on the various anti-constitutional acts of our current president. The Bush scenario comes out next and I'm sure we will be attacked for being anti-Republican then."
In a scenario seemingly ripped from the darkest corners of a conspiracy theorists' fevered mind, Obama's Coup Fails proposes a nightmarish world in which Obama, to prevent a midterm recasting of Congress, suspends the Second Amendment and dissolves the United States in order to form The North American People's Union with Canada and Mexico. The people rise up in arms, combating whatever government troops choose to align themselves with the errant administration. Faced with annihilation, Obama retreats to Virginia for his last stand.
What sounds like a potentially fun and humorous diversion to while away a couple hours when your boss isn't looking turns out to be something of a disappointment. The game itself mirrors the action of war-geek strategy classics such as Axis ' Allies, although simplified to accommodate quick and easy play.
In the game, resource development is reduced to training troops; tactics can be boiled down to choosing the number of light, medium or heavy troops to send and where to send them. Deciding upon a target initiates a brief movie sequence recycling actual war footage, then fills in the blanks with results.
Still, the game is nothing if not current, with gameplay elements similar to the topical jokes in Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony. Gamer-scripted news briefs reveal developments with names grabbed from current political headlines: "Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck Found Dead in Camp"; "The Cong Loses Control, Pelosi Captured!"; "Mass Graves Found in Cong and Ameritroop Territory." (A training video with a Strong Bad-style narrator shows off the gameplay.)
The game is just the beginning of an epic work-in-progress, said Lodispoto. In upcoming months, the Obama's Coup Fails developers plan to add a trading platform so gamers can swap assets. In-game factories will let players produce tanks, drones and attack helicopters. The game will add "other buildings too, such as libraries, town halls, even brothels to improve a player's morale, which is another factor in battles," Lodispoto said.
Good clean fun? On the surface, the poorly designed site appears to be nothing more than the project of second-rate coders who share a sense of political humor (and an obvious attraction to Michelle Malkin). However, news blurbs link you to actual headlines and YouTube videos of conservative commentators and other talking heads waxing philosophical on everything from Barney Frank's record to the activities of ACORN.
Players earn extra points by writing short essays on the Libertarian Party, the "Obama deception" or similar topics. Videos reward observant viewers with additional points for answering multiple-choice quizzes after watching. If there is a unifying thread throughout the site, it is the sound of Fox News in the background.
In the website's Community forum, conspiracy theories and political diatribes are interspersed amongst pleas from the game developers to report bugs and offer suggestions.
When it comes to finances, the founders are banking on a novel approach to fund The United States of Earth and reward particularly productive players. While anybody can play free, monthly subscribers compete for monthly cash prizes (in the form of "salaries" and "bonuses") and are granted advantages in the game.
"Members that become paid, or 'made' as we call them, pay $10 per month," Lodispoto said. "It is from this that we pay them out their salaries but we will also start up micropayments ... to speed up production or hurry actions."
The trivia-oriented portions of the United States of Earth site are more innocuous than the inflammatory Obama game (which was admittedly launched as a tactical maneuver to attract attention for the site). The random, multiple-choice questions are generally apolitical, testing general knowledge and military smarts.
Despite its flaws, United States of Earth has attracted plenty of attention from fans and foes alike — Mother Jones called it a "right-wing wet dream" and the site's operators claim it has been hacked numerous times in recent weeks as a result.
But the Founders have big plans for United States of Earth — even futuristic gameplay that takes launches politics into outer space.
"If you read the history/timeline [of the game], it is a speech from the President of the United States of Earth in 100 years," said Lodispoto. "That version will allow players to colonize other worlds and is approximately eight months away."