Animal Farm Meets Donald Trump: Political Animals

Political Animals [official site] is a turn-based strategy game. It’s also a colourful election simulation where candidates are replaced by cartoon animals. It should be released in time for November’s US elections. No, really. As the blurb goes:

“Building a wall around a country to handle migration is completely insane, except when the candidate suggesting it is a mongoose with severe hair problems, then it’s practically cute.”

Political Animals takes place on an island: the player is a presidential candidate, and each turn they have to choose where to campaign and what for, how to best raise funds and how to spend them. Of course you can be a boring goody-two-shoes, appeal to good causes and try to be honest; or you can actually join the fun side of life, with bribery, fabrication of press scandals and intimidation tactics.

The game is aiming to be a funny and liberating experience for all those who feel dread and hopelessness when they read the headlines.

“Distressed by your own country’s politicians? Why not fight the good fight as a politically savvy chicken or a pig in a bow-tie? Politics will never get you down when sex scandals involve scantily dressed cats and the only political violence comes from police-helmet wearing warthogs.”

To tell you the truth, as much as I do feel hopeless when I read the news, I’m not at all sold on the “wacky politics” angle. But it does make for a good opening quote, I’ll give it that. And maybe there’ll be enough going on with the gameplay to carry the game forward. Surely I’d be curious to see if they’ll balance it so that being honest is a viable strategy, that’ll be an interesting statement in its own right.

Political Animals is being developed by Squeaky Wheel, a new studio lead by Ryan Sumo, an artist who’s worked on Spacechem and Prison Architect. Positech, them of Democracy 3, are publishing it. The game should be out for Windows and Mac before the Presidential elections.

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  1. ChefSquid says:

    Fantastic, another political statement in form of video game. Not sure where you found that first quote though, the official site is thankfully not coloured by the personal political opinions of the developers.

    But hey, the art style is nice!

    • Melody says:

      It was in the press release =)

    • LogicalDash says:

      Man, if you don’t want video games to mean things, I think you’d be happier at IGN

    • trashmyego says:

      I’m sorry you’re so insecure with your own political beliefs that being confronted by anything that doesn’t align with them turns you off. Let alone just the concept of knowing such things exist.

      • Doomlord says:

        Yes, because it SO abnormal to not want to hear other political opinions hinted at in press releases. #eyeroll

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          Grizzly says:

          Yes. Yes it is.

        • rabbit says:

          in my experience at least, people who get upset about the mention of politics are people who are at least subconsciously ashamed of some aspect of their own politics. it’s the thing of ‘shy tories’ here in the UK

          • subedii says:

            I know of no political party UK or elsewhere that doesn’t have at least some policies or people that are easily ridiculous. In that respect, anyone is open for feeling embarrassed to be honest.

            That out of the way, I don’t have an issue with politics in games in itself.

            Frankly, far more of modern entertainment (including games) that people consume has at least some inherent political or sociological bents to it, it’s just that most people don’t recognise it because it adheres to [i]their[/i] biases.

            I’ve never liked the cries of “keep your politics out of my videogames”. There’s a lot more of it already present than most people tend to realise.

        • mouton says:

          Games matured as a medium long ago and as such they are influenced by all kinds views and ideas. Deal with it.

          Or just play minimalist games that bear no risk of “political” contamination. Something for everyone, isn’t the medium wonderful!

      • ChefSquid says:

        I’m not american, so I don’t really have a horse in this race, I’m just tired of seeing politics absolutely everywhere on the internet, for a lot of people games are a sort of escapism from the burdens of their daily lives, I go to read news about games and there is more politics shoved in my face.

        • rabbit says:

          play games then. you go onto a public forum and you’re going to be confronted by the reality you apparently are so desperate to ignore

        • Beefenstein says:

          Not wanting to hear about politics is a political action with political consequences — and, in fact, often one of the worst ones. You can’t escape politics and you shouldn’t want to because it is the main human mechanism for groups to achieve positive change. I suspect you’re part of a group which could achieve positive change too — if not for yourself then perhaps you are motivated to do so for your children.

        • mouton says:

          Games are not a safe space for escapists, sorry. Neither are books or films or comic books. They have matured as a medium, you need to learn to pick and choose, like everywhere else.

    • April March says:

      I’m just confused as to how to build a wall around an island.

      • Beefenstein says:

        Freeze the sea, shape it into towers, put anti-pigeon spikes on top.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      This is a common sentiment. HOWEVER, most other games are drenched in political statements, whether we talk about them or not. This title is specifically about the political game. It’s absurd to think games should be apolitical. It’s doubly so when it’s a game about politics. If you don’t think politics is interesting, you shouldn’t buy this, just as if you don’t find WW2 interesting, you shouldn’t buy a WW2 shooter. There’s room for all sorts of games and preferences. As long as there’s choice, we’re okay.

    • GWOP says:

      It’s funny how every time someone complains about political statements, all they do is reveal their own political leanings.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Fantastic, another political statement in form of video game.”

      This is the new ‘not another brown-grey corridor shooter’ of the Gamergate generation. Remedy: I am going to move to China in order to help them destroy the internet.

  2. LogicalDash says:

    I liked the title better when it was “Party Animals” but I still understand why they changed it.

  3. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    “Building a wall around a country to handle migration is completely insane”

    You know that there is a fence on that border right now, right? Is a wall that much more insane than a fence? Were the emperors Hadrian, Antoninus and Theodosian amongst others insane? If you want a border, you need a barrier. Please get the party line straight, Bernieboos, the contentious thing The Donald said was that Mexico should pay for it, not making a pre-existing barrier marginally more robust.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      China was so mean to not want to let the Mongolians migrate into their country! So what if they were going about in warbands raping and murdering whatever they came across?

      • RabbitIslandHermit says:

        The Great Wall of China was a complete failure.

        • HopeHubris says:

          Uh, not really, it was very effective for a very long time

          • Cinek says:

            How the hell is that even relevant? Are mexicans a pillaging, raping armies now? WTF is wrong with you, people? Get your shit together.

        • libdab says:

          Nevertheless, it was a step up from The Great Fence of China that preceded it.

      • rabbit says:

        yes because the population of mexico and the mongol hordes are TOTALLY equivalent

    • RabbitIslandHermit says:

      …it’s funny that you don’t seem at all concerned about the 1,500 odd miles of barrierless (!) Canadian border.

      • RabbitIslandHermit says:

        Excuse me, 4,000, my mistake.

      • rabbit says:

        “yes but us whiteys gotta stick together”

      • Beefenstein says:

        “…it’s funny that you don’t seem at all concerned about the 1,500 odd miles of barrierless (!) Canadian border.”

        Control that border? But how will citizens of the USA get decent health care?

    • subedii says:


      OK, I’d just like to pick up on this one thing for a moment, largely because I’m seeing it more and more often.

      I recognise that you may associate yourself and your identity deeply with your ‘team’, to the point that any perceived impingement on that team’s philosphies is therefore viewed as an attack by the ‘enemy team’.

      This is not now, nor has it ever been the case. The world is not black and white. And it is possible to have a differing perspective without being part of whatever body you currently perceive as your opposition.

      I mean crikey dude, RPS is run out of the UK, many of us are UK commenters and don’t really hew towards those groups to begin with.

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, um, about that:

  4. Unclepauly says:

    I would guess it’s because Canadians aren’t sneaking in by the thousands.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Was meant for rabbitislandhermit

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      Harlander says:

      Sure they are.

      They’re just really sneaky.

    • Beefenstein says:

      Yes they are. It’s just they leave again because the hockey, beer and healthcare aren’t as good.

      /source: many Canadian friends who live near border.

  5. Doomlord says:

    I wonder what is more insane, expecting people to just politely not cross borders illegally or building a device that at the very least makes it difficult, if nothing else.

    • Coming Second says:

      If ordinary people want to get into your country badly enough, they’ll do it – or die trying. That is one of the consequences of a global world and free market. You can build bigger and better walls, but all you’ll accomplish by doing that is kill more desparate people.

      • Doomlord says:

        Well, no, not really. They’d be killing themselves for trying. Call me crazy but I’d just follow the laws involved and worry about fixing my own country rather than risk dying of my own stupidity.

    • mouton says:

      A wall is peanuts comaparing to crossing deserts and dealing with people smugglers. Trump’s wall doesn’t make sense even in terms of his own policies.

  6. banana says:

    Eh, all these RedBlue™ democracy games… 49.9% vs 50.1%… half vs half… very progressive.

    I wonder why no developer out there even tries to explore different approaches to society or economy in general? Why not try, let’s see, maybe some kind of global, money-less, resource based anarchy. Too crazy?

    Pardon me, but I really believe games could serve as a fantastic petri-dish to try out radical and exciting concepts, and it’s so disappointing to see them always build upon the so-old-and-tested.

    Nobody can say everything has to stay the same forever, don’t you think?

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Pardon me, but I really believe games could serve as a fantastic petri-dish to try out radical and exciting concepts…”

      I believe that cheese could be a type of weapon but when people buy cheese as food I grudgingly accept that they wouldn’t want one which explodes, or contains nerve agents, or turns their eyes into maggots.

      Some people want a game which reflects the real world. If you want to roleplay a splendid anarcho-capitalist dictatorship then either find or make that game.

      • ButteringSundays says:

        “Some people want a game which reflects the real world.”

        Bit of a non-statement. Some people like the colour purple. Some people like nipple-rings.

        “If you want to roleplay a splendid anarcho-capitalist dictatorship then either find or make that game.”

        How long should they look before giving up and making it themselves?

    • subedii says:

      Personally I’d like that, but I also think it would be spectacularly hard to model in any real way.

      From what I’ve seen of most games that try to model political systems as they currently exist, even those games model themselves on a tonne of custom made rules that are themselves at best half-guesses of “how people think and behave” and typically say a lot more about the devs, their background and their thought processes than any real perspective on how different people think.

      And hey, that’s OK, I honestly wouldn’t expect anything different. I just don’t think we really have the tools and understanding to model these things in complexity just yet, without falling back on more lazy rules that are, again largely guesswork and based on our own biases.

      I guess I mean it can also be tough to predict future shenanigans in the political realm based on modern day happenings. I mean to put it another way, the vast majority of political thought in the 1980’s never saw the fall of the Berlin wall coming. It was recognised as a possibility, but the idea was largely on the fringe of political discourse.

      And a lot of human history has been like that. It’s been deemed unlikely-to-ridiculous until it’s happened, and then everyone rushes to a post-hoc “I’m so smart” rationalisation of WHY it happened and WHY it was all so clearly inevitable.

    • LogicalDash says:

      I saw a student project that tried to do this. It modeled individuals as points and had them walk about, form social bonds, and fight each other according to rules you chose at game start, which was your only way to influence the game. It was kind of cool to watch and tinker around with but the rules available weren’t anything like enough to implement what I’d call “government”.

      (It was by someone graduating from NYU GameCenter but I forget all names involved, maybe someone else can help me out here)

  7. silgidorn says:

    and the only political violence comes from police-helmet wearing warthogs.
    So this is a sequel to Duke Nukem then ? But what with the genre-shift ?Stop turning my fpses into turn-based systems ! That’s what happened with Xcom too !

    I actually really look forward to this game. I would really appreciate if it was possible to play silently judging shiba in.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Stop turning my fpses into turn-based systems ! That’s what happened with Xcom too !”

      Xcom was an FPS?

  8. silgidorn says:

    damn a TPS, I wanted to say TPS ! Anyway i did put sarcasm html code but that didn’t work (actually, it didn’t appear, so I assume the text would be understood as sarcasm when read).

  9. Carlos Danger says:

    This game will provide a valuable safe space for the snowflakes during Trump’s inauguration.

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  11. The Petulant Platypus says:

    I find it hard to get into political games though I do thoroughly enjoy Republic: The Revolution a great deal, still after all this time.

    Looking at this game, voting for a racist and misogynistic crocodile hellbent on the third world war seems like a better prospect than voting for Trump.

  12. vlonk says:

    This sounds interesting if I can appeal to good causes while using dishonorable cutthroat methods (house of cards style).

    Also a playthrough with hardliner law&order, xenophobic, ultra conservative messages and honourable trustworthy methods sounds kinda fun.