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Elections 2009: Let the games begin

By K Rajani Kanth in Hyderabad
March 10, 2009 02:14 IST
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Imagine Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati and Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate L K Advani working out and pumping iron before competing against each other in six disciplines -- swimming, running, 100-metre hurdles, shot put, javelin throw and long jump -- at a "national-level Olympics".

Even if they're unlikely to do all this in real life, Hyderabad-based game development company 7Seas Technologies Limited has developed five free online political games that enable you to make them to do all these things -- virtually.

The five games -- 'Who Wins' (a series of two games), 'Vote Fun', 'Vote a Leader' and 'Political War' (a tug-of-war between the main characters supported by their political allies), will go live on 7Seas' site, the Sify-hosted gaming portal and other aggregators from March 15, about a month ahead of the general elections starting April 16.

7Seas has developed India's first political fighting games after the interest it generated in similar virtual games that pitted an online Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama against his Republican rival John McCain ahead of the US elections in November last year.

"The US presidential elections triggered interest the world over. With the Indian elections around the corner, attention has turned to this part of the world," said L Maruti Sanker, 7Seas managing director.

"The idea behind developing these games is to fuel interest in the current Indian political scenario and provide gamers with entertainment," he added.

The five games -- Who Wins (a series of two games), Vote Fun, Vote a Leader and Political War (a tug-of-war between the main characters supported by their political allies) -- involved 90 days of development time and an investment of Rs 5 lakh each.

These games also have a percentage bar that displays voter preferences and partisanship (not unlike exit polls).

"We expect these games to represent a new tool of communication to reach an audience in a language that can clearly speak to them," Sanker said.

7Seas, he said, was targeting Indians and non-resident Indians of different age groups and hopes to get over a million users till the election results are out.

The company, which currently owns the intellectual property for over 260 free online games, has also developed five similar games featuring animated characters of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Telugu Desam supremo N Chandrababu Naidu and Praja Rajyam founder Chiranjeevi, which will also be launched on March 15.

Although these five games will be the first political online games from India, the trend is about six years old. The first political fighting game -- Iowa Game -- was launched in 2003 by then Democrat hopeful Howard Dean. Later, 20 other games followed, including The Political Machine, Frontrunner, President Forever and 'The Street Fight' on Obama vs Hillary Clinton in the Democrat primaries.

In 2008, Israel's Kadima party launched an online game that chides former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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K Rajani Kanth in Hyderabad
Source: source