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Obama, Romney Get Physical in Game Aimed at Voter Turnout

August 22, 2012

Obama, Romney Get Physical in Game Aimed at Voter Turnout

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney battle in this screenshot from a new Epic Games Inc. video game. Source: Epic Games via Bloomberg

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s battle for the White House enters the fantasy realm of hand-to- hand combat in a new video game for Apple devices that’s meant to increase voter turnout.

The candidates wield lightsabers and baton-like microphones, facing off on the debate stage, the White House lawn and finally battling for control of the Oval Office in “Vote,” from Epic Games Inc.’s Chair Entertainment. The company is offering the game free on Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s App Store. It lets iPod, iPhone and iPads users pick the president or his Republican challenger, Technical Director Geremy Mustard said.

Chair Entertainment, maker of the popular “Infinity Blade” sword-fighting game, goes a step beyond political satire by working with Washington-based Rock the Vote for the first in- game attempt to register thousands of young people to cast a ballot this November.

“Gamers are a pretty hard audience to reach, and the game is a really fun way to keep people engaged in the political process these next critical two months,” Mustard said in an interview.

Users click a button on-screen and are taken to Rock the Vote’s online voter registration form, which must be filled out, printed, signed and sent to state election offices, said Chrissy Faessen, a spokeswoman. Rock the Vote has set a goal of registering 1.5 million new voters this year, she said.

The partnership includes a link to Project Vote Smart, which offers non-partisan information on federal and state candidates, ballot measures and social and economic issues, Faessen said.

Weapons Upgrades

“They’re looking at what either candidate can do to help improve their future,” Faessen said. “We’re thrilled to be a partner here to get the conversation going.”

Officials for the Obama and Romney campaigns didn’t respond to e-mailed requests for comment.

While the game is free, users pay as much $10 for all of the upgraded weapons and outfits that include ’70s-era disco suits, “Super Prez” superhero costumes and boxing gear, Creative Director Donald Mustard said. Some of the proceeds will go to Rock the Vote.

Actors mimic the voices of Obama and Romney, though most of the humor comes from the soundtrack and fighting as they battle in 75-second bouts. Strikes win users points, including big bonuses for multiple hits.

Winning Votes

Players fight for points, which unlock votes. If a user wins a bout with more than 10,000 points, the candidate gets one vote. It rises to two votes for scores above 75,000 and three for 250,000 or more.

Players will vote online for their favorite candidate and see a running tally until Nov. 6, Donald Mustard said.

“Every time an election happens, it feels like the nation gets divided and it’s a little more mean-spirited,” he said. “We want to encourage people to participate without being alienated from the process.”

Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, declined to comment on the game.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net


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