The youth vote is crucial in any election, and while Trump is busy crafting Facebook-ready attack ads based on Pokémon Go, Hill is appealing to the youngs with a game of her own. It is profoundly, jaw-droppingly dull.
Hillary 2016, which launched late yesterday, puts the player in the appropriately grim surroundings of their own “campaign HQ,” a second-floor office with eight chairs, one sofa, and no staff. By completing daily challenges a highly motivated member of the American electorate can earn “stars,” which really could have had a cooler name, like “HillCoins” or maybe just “points.” (To be clear, “points” are also earned in-game, though it’s not immediately clear how, or what they’re used for.)
Today’s daily challenges include: syncing your own calendar to the campaign, answering questions for a quiz called Trump Or False—which makes uncredited mention of that bloviating psychopath retweeting a Mussolini (thanks Gawker!)—or committing to vote for Hill. There does not appear to be any legally binding agreement to A) actually cast your vote as such or B) use your own name. I signed up Bernie Sanders, but feel free to fill in, say, Ivana Trump or the pink-haired girl from Degrassi: Next Class.
But what oh what does one do with these stars? At present the options are limited to upgrading campaign HQ furniture. A starter lamp can become a modern lamp for a mere 25 stars. I couldn’t afford the brick accent wall and so opted for a standard fridge. There’s no XP. No leveling. No sense of difficulty, progress, or reward. Just the chance to remodel empty—but remarkably spacious—virtual offices space.
There are a few purchasable things that crossover into the real world, a world that allowed this app to be created in the first place. Among them are 20 percent off Hillary merch (120 stars), access to “special campaign updates” (200 stars), and an unknown souvenir signed by the future president herself (325 stars). In truth I had assumed I was already in for several lifetimes of “special campaign updates” when signing up for the app with Gmail.
Gamifying a contentious election makes sense in principle, but the execution misses almost every hallmark of the concept popularly understood as “fun.” On the flip side, the Hillary 2016 servers appear to be struggling a great deal less than Pokémon Go.