Posted Thursday, 18-Jun-2015
Though the US presidential election is still over a year away, the candidates have already started to announce themselves and campaigning has begun. So with election fever growing, it’s a good time to return to the electoral classics, and the different games that have gone under the title of Campaign Trail.
The first Campaign Trail, designed by Peter Andersen and William Snavely, was released in 1983. Marketed as a game simple enough for family play and interesting enough for veterans, it saw players moving their presidential and vice-presidential candidates around a map of the United States, trying to drum up support.
Like many family games, this Campaign Trail had a strong random element and a focus on moving around a board. It was an accessible take on politics, and one that kept some of its idealism. Hard work would take its candidates to the White House.
By 1996, cynicism was becoming the default way of viewing politicians and politics. Campaign Trail ’96, designed by Jeffrey Groteboer, took a humorous spin on this.
Campaign Trail ’96 got into the ugly mechanics of an election, instead of the crowd-pleasing tours shown in its predecessor. Players used spin doctors, attack ads, divisive issues and scandals to gain the upper hand. In the Clinton era, it was increasingly hard to take politicians seriously, and this game played off that.
The most recent Campaign Trail came out in 2013 and was designed by David Cornelius and Nathan Cornelius. Once again, players focus on a map of the United States, this time looking to win the electoral college of each state.
This modern Campaign Trail takes elements from each of its predecessors. Modern political tactics of mud slinging and fundraising matter, but so do the traditional approaches of building grassroots support and discussing issues. It combines an old idealism about politics with a cynical edge for the modern world.
Politics can often look like nothing more than a game between a bunch of rich, powerful people. The various different Campaign Trail games let you get into that game for yourself, and make an often disillusioning political process into something fun.
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