Forget about Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft. The largest role playing game in the world is, and has always been, politics. Politics is more artificial than it is real. There’s more acting than in most Hollywood movies. It’s no secret. We all know how it works. The goal is to get your message out while stifling competing messages. To appear to be more likable. To be more popular. To win that all-important vote.
It’s big business in many parts of the world. And, it’s a zero-sum game in most circumstances – for me to win, you have to lose.
There are badges: Councilman, Mayor, Congressman, Senator, Governor, Premiere, Member of Parliament, Minister, Secretary, President, Prime Minister, etc.
There are points: media pickups, debate wins, bills passed or killed, votes, etc.
There are levels: Congressman to Senator to Governor to President.
And, there are winners and losers. Like chess, there are even pawns (or redshirts for Star Trek fans). If you are a voter, you’re a pawn. If you are a nonvoter, you are still a pawn (that’s a vote the other guy didn’t get).
It’s a massively multiplayer game on the grandest scale. In fact, it’s a cohesive network of interconnected worlds … but we call them countries with trade, travel, ambassadors, military, and such.
The players include the politicians themselves, and an army of staff, assistants, marketing, PR agents, party members, pundits, bloggers, media, and more. All posturing and positioning to capture more attention than their rivals. And, in many cases, repeating message points they may not even understand, let alone sincerely believe in. It’s role-playing at its finest. It’s a game with big stakes. And, it’s real, sort of.
Those who wonder if a game can actually influence human behavior need look no further than the game of politics.