Make Videogames Great Again

By Kotaku on at

By Rich Stanton and Matt Wales

It still feels a bit strange to write that Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States. The ongoing cavalcade of stories about his administration and Russia makes watching American politics at the moment, rather appropriately, feel a little bit like watching a TV show. 

The Donald is a bizarre individual and, as he belligerently stumbles from one scandal to the next, games have found him to be a rich source of inspiration. When we initially had the idea of playing through some of them, we were worried there wouldn’t be enough quality or variety to justify an article — but instead we found a rich bonanza of fun and satire. Games have this ability to expose ideas by showing and taking them to extremes: whether that’s tossing Mexicans over a wall, or using a giant floating Trump head to repel immigrants. Anyway: you’ll see folks. This is gonna be so beautiful.


Trump’s World

In Trump's World, you’re given a whistlestop tour of Donald’s own Happiest Place on Earth (happy as long as you’re not a Democrat or a minority of any kind).That amounts to a handful of slick and cheerily offensive minigames themed around Trump’s favourite themes: you’ll toss sombrero-wearing “rapists” over a wall, profile muslim stereotypes in a constantly moving line-up, even play a rousing game of whack-an-abortionist. It’s very well put-together, so don’t feel too bad if you accidentally have a tiny bit of fun while busy being appalled.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Stop Trump

Stop Trump is basically a super casual Papers, Please – only instead of manning the border of some fictional eastern bloc, you’re on the frontline of UK passport control, desperately trying to prevent Trump from sneaking into the country (at the Queen’s behest, no less). Never one to take no for an answer, Trump will do his best to thwart you with a range of ridiculous and elaborate disguises. It’s amusing at first, but the repetition quickly grows tedious, not unlike Trump’s Twitter account.

Approval rating: Sad!


Punch the Trump

You’ve only got one job in Punch the Trump: punch that Trump! In game terms, that translates to a super lightweight re-skin of Punch-Out!!, where neither skill nor strategy is required. It’ll probably hold your attention for about 15 seconds but, on the positive side, those are 15 truly transcendental seconds where you’re repeatedly smacking Donald Trump in the face.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Topple Trump

Despite the commendable use of alliteration in its title, Topple Trump is one of the duller games on this list, what with it being little more than a multiple choice quiz. It scores points for political effort – it’s themed around completing the blanks in Trump’s oft-questionable quotes (“I've said that if Ivanka weren't my daughter perhaps I'd be dating her,” always a jaw-dropper) – but unless you’ve been hankering for a way to offload all that useless Trump trivia you’ve been hoarding (or just love the sounds of the man’s voice), this one won't be grabbing your attention, nevermind your pussy.

Approval rating: Sad!


The Apprentice: Los Angeles

Before there was POTUS Trump, there was Trump-wot-done-a-reality-show-called-The Apprentice. The Apprentice: Los Angeles is a game about that long-forgotten, less globally-mocked version of Trump. As such, it’s one of the only games on this list not attempting to do him simulated harm or rip the living piss out of him. Perhaps happily, the man of a million tweets is barely in it: instead it’s a loosely-themed casual clicker/time management thing in which you’re tasked with serving different combinations of food to restaurant customers as quickly as possible. As someone with a bit of a soft spot for these kind of games, I say to the virtually Trump-free The Apprentice: Los Angeles - you’re hired!

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Trumptendo

Stand back Donkey Kong, there’s a new orange gorilla in town! Trumptendo is a delightful compendium of classic Nintendo games reimagined with a Trumpian twist. You’ll scramble up scaffolding as George Washington in Donkey Trump, you’ll fistfight your way through the political elite in Don Trump’s Punch-Out!!, and you’ll guide everyone’s favourite Democrat underdog on the adventure of a lifetime in Super Bernie Bros. These are surprisingly faithful recreations of Nintendo favourites with a few swapped sprites, so entertainment is practically guaranteed – unless your hands are too tiny to manipulate the controls.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Voodoo Trump

Voodoo Trump is quite possibly the only game in existence that lets you press a button to turn Trump’s face into a cock. You can also make him turn into a snake, make his clothes fall off, squash him with a wall, turn him into a skeleton, give him a gimp mask, or set him on fire. You can even do some of these things all at once! It’s not very smart, it’s not very funny (apart from maybe that penis thing), and the music is so horrifyingly awful that I partly suspect it’s some kind of viral Republican thing designed to give anyone that plays it a brain haemorrhage. Someone get Alex Jones on the case.

Approval rating: Sad!


Trump Simulator

In lo-fi arcade game Trump Simulator, you control Donald Trump’s enormous hovering head, guiding it in frantic circles around a tiny United States of America. Using the president’s unparalleled natural ability to repel everything around him, you must hold back the tide of immigrants as the boats and, er, giant sombreros come pouring at the states. If you fail to keep the immigrants out, your approval ratings will plummet: maintain your campaign promises though, and you truly will “make America great again”.

Approval rating: Sad!


Trump on Top

Thankfully not the horrific Trump-themed porno adventure that it sounds like, Trump on Top is yet another weirdly slick entry on this list. It’s basically a physics-based 2D fighter where you pick your Democratic or Republican champion then fling them around the screen as violently as possible, flip-flopping faster than Trump’s policy positions. Your ultimate goal is to bash your opponent’s head into solid objects until their health gauge is depleted; a pleasantly bipartisan spot of entertainment for all.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Trump Donald

One suspiciously luminous president, one trumpet, and one mission for the entire world; Trump Donald’s purpose is simple: to see how many times humanity as a whole can trump on Donald Trump. At the time of writing, Trump Donald has accrued 644,527,732 trumps, with at least 40 of them coming from me. It’s simultaneously the simplest, the stupidest, and most hilarious Trump game on this list. Play it now, play it forever, and play it until his hairpiece is finally free of its earthly prison.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


Mr President

There is a rather partisan nature to many of these games, which is because a lot of people hate Trump or find him ridiculous. There are a whole other breed of games, however, that unironically task you with Making America Great Again under the aegis of the Donald. I downloaded a few of this ilk on Steam and they were terrible. Some of the above games are terrible, too, but at least they're funny.

A shining light was Mr President, not a game that I recommend you buy but something so bad it's good. Candidate Rump is giving his speeches across America and at each one there's a sniper looking to take him out. As Rump's bodyguard, you run from the wings and try to catch the bullet or push the candidate out of the way. The physics aren't great, but there's no denying the humour in watching a sunglasses-wearing hardman cartwheel in front of Trump.

Approval rating: So beautiful!


We could have gone on winning. We could have listed Trump games so much that you would be sick of Trump games, saying "we're not used to this many Trump games." But you have to draw the border somewhere. As Donald J. Trump pulls America out of the Paris climate change agreement, alienates Europe, and becomes further embroiled in the Russia investigations, he becomes an ever-richer target for throwaway satire like this.

There is something of the future here. A theme of the last 15 years has been the vast improvement in the tools available to make games, from twine to Gamemaker, which allow anyone to create a simple videogame relatively easily. And the process will only get easier — it's not where the high-end stuff will get made, but small games that make a cultural point. After Trump's election victory, one of the shining lights was how gaming communities responded to his victory in their own ways.

Trump is obviously an extravagantly ideal target for this kind of satire, which can be as crass and crude and reductive as he is. But it is striking that when you get down to brass tacks in some of these games, and for example start profiling Muslims out of crowds, they can communicate the repugnance of that idea with real tangibility.

Political and sociological games have always existed at the fringes, they're not a new thing. But the ease of making games now, and the sheer wackiness of our era, has seen their numbers and quality explode. I haven't yet seen an election where a videogame had real influence. But I'm pretty sure that, sooner rather than later, I will.