Campaign Story Lets Facebook Gamers Play Political Hardball

By Jennifer Moire 

Play clean or play dirty? That’s the choice game players will face if they mount their own bids for elected office in politically themed Facebook game Campaign Story, which debuted Thursday from Raleigh, N.C.-based developer FiveOneNine Games.

The timing couldn’t be better, as mudslinging in the presidential campaign intensifies ahead of the party conventions, which kick off next week with the Republicans in Tampa, Fla.

In Campaign Story, players pick their slogan, gain popularity, and interact with Facebook friends to increase their standing in the polls. The game mimics today’s current campaign and election process, allowing players to implement real-life political strategies, with the 2012 election cycle in the backdrop.

According to FiveOneNine Games CEO and industry veteran Lloyd Melnick:

We are very excited to be launching Campaign Story this week on Facebook. Facebook is the perfect platform for our social game, as everyone already loves discussing politics on it, and Campaign Story provides the vehicle to not only discuss politics, but play in that world.

A company spokeswoman said there are no plans to expand beyond Facebook at this time, in part because FiveOneNine Games believes that Campaign Story will thrive due to the social network’s viral elements — such as its like and share features — that can enhance a player’s experience. The company is also excited because the game can evolve based on feedback from the Facebook community of players.

Among the game’s most viral features? Players can make up fun campaign slogans to share with friends, and tell friends about the latest election they won.

This politics and news junkie enjoyed her experience with Campaign Story (although I wish there was more available space  for my campaign slogan). The timely news headlines in a ticker across the top of the screen — such as President Barack Obama‘s latest stump speech or the controversial comments by Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin — brought a dose of reality to the game. I could choose to respond to a headline using a “dirty” or a “clean” tactic to attack my opponent.

The headlines are a nifty feature and a nod to FiveOneNine Games’ provenance; the company is jointly owned by Scripps and Capitol Broadcasting.

The game starts with a campaign for a mayoral race, and as players win, they can advance to the highest office in the land. Gold coins allow users to hire staff — my first hire was a press secretary, naturally.

Campaign Story should get a boost heading into the fall election. The larger question is whether the company will gain any sort of advantage if it chooses to go with a Facebook-only approach to gaming — an approach that has seen other gaming companies try and fail.

For now we’ll have to wait and see. FiveOneNine Games expects to launch more adult games with an educational appeal later this year and into 2013. Its other game, Political Rampage, is only available on iOS and Android.

Readers: Would you launch a dirty or clean campaign on the Campaign Story Facebook game?