It’s with great pleasure and relief that I can finally present to the world the project that has obsessed me for almost six months now: The Candidate.

What is The Candidate?
The Candidate is a newsgame where you play the role of a congressional candidate who is seeking office in a district where there is an open seat during the 2014 off-year elections. After successfully winning your party’s primary, you must now shift gears and focus your efforts on convincing the broader electorate that you are the man or woman for the job. The goal of the game is to successfully negotiate the various obstacles that candidates face when running for office, while also seeking to gain support and encourage, discourage, the turnout of different voter groups in the game.

Why is The Candidate a game?
One of my passions is to figure out effective ways of marrying gaming elements with journalistic storytelling. As a lifetime gamer and lover of journalism, I figured this was a match waiting to happen. After receiving the AP-Google Scholarship to build the game, I was all set to go.
Building off the work of other innovators in the news game, or serious game, genre, I wanted to test out how effective a game could be in helping to better inform people about systems, in this case congressional elections. Although my initial impulse was to build a game that was pure strategy (think Civilization), I decided against it and focused on building a choose-your-own-adventure-style platform that would be more appealing to non-gamers.

Here is an example of a Voter Group Challenge, in this case the Progressive group.

Here is an example of a Voter Group Challenge, in this case the Progressive group.

Who was involved in making The Candidate
I focused on the game design and actual development, while two friends brought in their talents to help me with art and music: John T. Carter is the lead artist, and Ty Guenley is the lead sound engineer. But there are many who helped make this happen either through their moral support or expertise. In no particular order: Jeremy Rue, Paul Grabowicz, Richard “Koci” Hernandez, Sisi Wei, Mollie Cohen-Rosenthal, and C.K. Hickey.

What’s Next?
Like I said, this is an ALPHA version, so there is much improvement to be made. I haven’t caught all the bugs and typos in this version (please let me know if you find them!). I also have plans to enhance the gameplay based on both user input and my own personal demands for more depth. Also, the backend calculations need to be tweaked to more accurately capture what could happen in reality. As new studies are published, I will be updating that.
But overall, I really need your input. This game will only be as good as the people who play it enjoy it and learn from it. I encourage anyone who plays this game to leave feedback in either the comments or send them to me personally. Also, the game will be regularly updated, so subscribe to my blog or twitter to find out the latest as it develops.

For the few who have played the game already, below is a log of all changes made to this version.

Play The Candidate

Version 0.3.0

Major Changes

  • Party Screen silhouettes will now reflect the gender selected
  • Portraits of Voter Groups in-game will now reflect how the group thinks of you: neutral, support, and oppose
  • Added a mute button for music
  • Integrated key rules into the game so a player doesn’t have to necessarily read the How-To
  • Indicator arrows will now show how turnout and voter support has changed based on a decision
  • Faded out Issue Stances if “No Public Stance” has been taken

Bugs and Fixes

  • Added sketches for all in-game portraits.
  • Fixed issue of broken Blue Collar Bloc images
  • Fixed American Gas Association Challenge

1 Comment

  • Clay Shentrup says:

    I’d love to see a setting where you can use an alternative voting method in the general election, such as Approval Voting or Score Voting.