It’s a new year, so I decided to try something new and review a computer game.

After much deliberation, I realized that there is only one game that makes sense for me to review, and it is the Bernie Arcade. After all, he now has his own ice cream flavor (which is called Bernie’s Yearning, and I have to assume that it is free)!

Ice cream anyone? Photo via CNN Money
Ice cream anyone?
Photo via CNN Money

Before I comment on it, it’s worth providing some context. In 2006, Sanders was running for Senate in Vermont after serving several decades representing the state in its sole congressional district. It might seem remarkable now, but the seat that Sanders currently has never elected a Democrat (and it is the only Senate seat that has never done so), and Vermont has only ever elected one Democrat to the Senate, current Senator Pat Leahy (in addition to his cameos in various Batman installations has also endorsed Hillary Clinton, which must be awkward).

As a result, Sanders must have thought that he needed some innovative campaign tactics. The rest, as you can see, is history. Sanders won an overwhelming victory, and since he continues to caucus as an Independent, the seat he occupies continues to have never elected a Democrat (although Sanders sought, and won the Democratic nomination, only to not accept it). After all, Vermont is the state that gave us Howard Dean, who is known for his ability to harness the power of the internet and his ability to scream (and also for endorsing Clinton, which is, again, awkward).

This leads us to the game.

True to its name, it definitely is an arcade style game. After you lose, you have to enter your initials (as well as your email address, which is the point of the game), which reminds me of all the times I playing racing games back in the day.

The game itself isn’t exactly high quality, but I am of course looking back on it with almost 10 years of hindsight. It makes sense that in the game, Sanders is dodging the extreme right wing (that looks fairly similar to the Detroit Red Wings to me), mudslingers, literal fat cats and special interest money. It might be the fact that I’m not a democratic socialist, but I kept trying to collect the money until I made a point of remembering to avoid it at all costs.

Eventually, I ended up with 254 points so I style myself something of an expert at how to play it well (although as you can see from the highscores, everyone’s a winner). I had the most success in staying at the edge of the screen (ironically, on the far right from Bernie’s viewpoint) and constantly firing “fact sheets” at everything, which actually made me a pretty strong hawk, which is also ironic.

In the years since the Bernie Arcade, campaigns have slowly been appreciating the value that video games can have in appealing to younger voters. The Obama campaign actually paid to advertise on billboards…in video games in 2008 and 2012! While playing, for example, Need for Speed, you can speed past a billboard with Obama’s face on it that reminds you that early voting has begun.

Talk about subliminal advertising (although this is actually kind of overt). Image via NPR
Talk about subliminal advertising (although this is actually kind of overt).
Image via NPR

In 2014, Republicans had a game of their own, called Mission Majority, in which you play as an elephant named Giopi who has to help Republicans retake the Senate majority. Lo and behold, it happened in real life. Although the website is now down, I can attest that the game was a decent amount of fun when it came out.

So where do we go from here? Maybe both parties will be running their ads on TVs in Call of Duty, in addition to homes across America. Or maybe they’ll stick to the traditional arcade form. Only time will tell!

Is it time for a video game revolution in this country? Image via YoungCons, math via WSJ: http://www.wsj.com/articles/price-tag-of-bernie-sanders-proposals-18-trillion-1442271511
Is it time for a video game revolution in this country?
Image via YoungCons, math via WSJ: http://www.wsj.com/articles/price-tag-of-bernie-sanders-proposals-18-trillion-1442271511
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