April 10th, 2006

Stanford Researches, Washington Post Reports on Political Whack-a-Mole Game

What's the scientific way to examine the issue of political party polarization among voters?

Play whack-a-mole with pictures of politicians, apparently.

Thanks to the excellent Water Cooler Games blog, we learned of a Washington Post story detailing the work of Shanto Iyengar, director of Stanford University's Political Communication Lab.

Iyengar has researched the question of whether a given subject's political leanings could be affected by playing "Whack-a-Pol" with images of various prominent political and cultural figures, including John Kerry, Condoleeza Rice, Martha Stewart and Fidel Castro.

Three versions of the popular arcade game were created: one with well-known political figures (four Republicans and four Democrats), one with random celebrities, and one with various foreign dictators from the past and present.

Political hostility was calculated by totaling the number of whacks each character in the game received compared to others. Not surprisingly, participants' political affiliation guided their whacking in the politician game while a more even spread of whacks were observed in the celebrity and dictator games (although Michael Jackson and Adolf Hitler were the most popular targets in their respective versions of the game).
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Pennsylvania House Unanimously Condemns "25 to Life"

The seemingly endless public relations disaster that is "25 to Life" continues for the video game industry.

Last week the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 196-0 in favor of a resolution condemning the game, calling it " a video game that displays horrific violence against police officers and innocent bystanders."

The resolution, HR688, reads, in part:

"RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania encourage concerned citizens to support the antiviolence efforts of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund by signing the online petition at www.NLEOMF.com."

"...and be it further RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives respectfully acknowledge law enforcement officers and honor the memory of the brave men and women killed in the line of duty by expressing support for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and antiviolence campaign..."