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Prime Minister’s Questions – The Game

Jake Hanrahan

promo2 300x187 Prime Minister’s Questions – The GameText-based adventure games are often perceived as a pixelated debacle of trolls, orcs and wizards, testing the patience of the player as they travel down a road stolen from Tolkein’s imagination. However, a little known independent video games developer named Mark Richards, has reinvented the turn based genre by adding the raucous ruling of politics into the mix. He has reconstructed the parliamentary roleplaying that is the Prime Minister’s Questions, into a homemade pixelated game.

The retro styled adventure – PMQ’s: The Game – lets the player assume the role of David Cameron who must battle it out with Ed Miliband in the hooligan den that is the Houses of Parliament. As the folly of political questions fire back and forth like a stomach creasing brick through a window, the damage caused by the player depends on the response given after being fenced by Miliband. Like the real life stockpile of over-fed MP’s the UK plays host to, the objective is to avoid answering any questions by creeping past them using the usual hollowed out political banter. With hilarious quotes such as David Cameron’s “Calm down, dear!” and “The last government maxed out this country’s credit card!” this game has gained a huge following since its release – a free download from the developers “Pixel Politics” website.

I caught up with Mark Richards and asked him a few questions about his game and thankfully, got straight answers. With all the flesh crawling themes of destruction and terror that most games seem to revolve around these days, I wondered what would inspire someone to make a text based adventure on the Prime Ministers Questions. He said “It was a natural progression from what I was doing with Pixel Politics. I knew it wouldn’t be long – drawing all those characters – before I made a game out of them. And a PMQ’s game struck me as something that would be funny.” Pixel Politics is Mark Richards Tumblr site where he satirises UK politics in 8-bit comic strips. I asked what Richards thought to the hubbub of lunacy that some would perceive the real life PMQ’s as, he replied “I love watching PMQ’s, it’s part of my politics obsession. The whole thing may seem silly, and often it is, but I still believe PMQ’s is an important part of our democracy. A lot of the comments I’ve had, especially from overseas, have been positive in this regard.” What with the popularity of this independently developed game and the force of the indie gamer circuit, I wondered if Richards thought the industry could continue to thrive the way it has done recently, “Yes!” he said. “It is certainly an exciting industry. Being independent gives developers the freedom to develop what they want. And, as us developers are all gamers, more often than not, that works out to be what gamers want too. I could definitely see myself making a living designing games. Being independent would be a bonus. I suppose it’s everyone’s dream to get paid for doing what you love.”

PMQ’s: The Game was created using the Adventure Game Studio engine. AGS allows total novices and seasoned developers to create their own games for free, programming every step and inserting every frame of animation themselves with relative ease. The engine has churned out commercially successful games such as the critically acclaimed Gemini Rue, and Dave Gilbert’s Blackwell games, a series of full length point-and-click adventure games in which you play a medium sleuth with a hard nose ghost as your sidekick. AGS has a huge following and a community that seems to have pushed PMQ’s into its 15 minutes of fame.

So whether you’re a political campaigner or simply a fan of Monkey Island’s “insult sword fighting”, Prime Ministers Questions: The Game is definitely worth a go. You can find it for free at the Pixel Politics website.

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