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Congress Games Struggle

Back in 2006, the online game Fantasy Congress opened up to a good deal of media attention. Begun by some college students with a great idea, the game worked like a fantasy football league. Participants could assemble a team of members of the U.S. Congress, and then watch as their legislative achievements gained them points in a kind of virtual competition that enabled them to interact with other people who were enthusiastic about tracking congressional politics. The students moved forward to develop Publi.us, which not only ran Fantasy Congress, but started development of Kingmaker, a game for Politico as well. Unfortunately, the effort could not last. Fantasy Congress disappeared at the beginning of the year, and the Politico effort has dissolved as well.

Not long after Fantasy Congress came online, the Center on Congress claimed to be developing another Congress game: Virtual Congress. Now, two and a half years later, the word from the Center on Congress is that the game, now entitled Oceana: A Virtual Democracy, is still in development.

The Center has received grant money to develop the game, and it talks a great deal about what the game is going to look like… eventually… It will be a 3-D virtual world, and people will compete for “wisdom points”, and learn about important issues, and how Congress works. Still, there’s no date for release of the game, so perhaps the Center on Congress isn’t the best source of wisdom about how to get political projects done.

Nonetheless, I’m interested in the idea of a game that could simulate some aspects of congressional politics. I’d like to hear readers ideas about whether that sort of game would appeal to them, and what they imagine it might look like.

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