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In the wake of every mass shooting, we hear the same refrain from friends and politicians alike: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
It is a nice sentiment. Thinking about something is the first step to changing it, and praying can bring peace of mind to those left behind.
But it’s a phrase that’s been uttered so many times in recent years that it’s become something of an empty platitude, a fact perfectly illustrated by a recent episode of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. After the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, Barack Obama famously said, ‘‘Our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” a sentence the New York Times equated to the president “verbally rolling his eyes.”
Over a year ago, a group of video game designers took that metaphorical eye roll to the next level by introducing “Thoughts and Prayers: The Game!” It’s a game that seems more relevant than ever following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the worst in modern American history.
The satirical game allows the player to combat the mass shooting epidemic using the power of “Thoughts and Prayers.”
Clicking on “THINK” or pressing the “t” key sends a thought while clicking “Pray” or pressing the “p” key sends a pray. Eventually, after enough mass shootings, a third option appears. “Ban Assault Weapons”
Although choosing that option doesn’t do much good.
No matter how often you try it.
And, regardless of what you do, the end result is always the same.
“Good Guy with a Gun”
“The Voter Suppression Trail” (a joint project with the New York Times)
And “Trump’s Pussy Grabber”
Chris Baker, one of the co-founders of Everyday Arcade, told the Daily Dot via email that The GOP Arcade was initially a response to what was going on during the 2016 election, but has since continued to add new satirical games on a regular basis.
“I think satire’s core feature is making someone realize their own actions are a bit silly, or irrational, or just a tad bit too dumb,” said Baker. “Once you get someone to challenge their own conclusions, through wit or what have you, you can begin to challenge real authority.”
Although, he then added, “It’s hard for me to imagine that taking place on either side of the political aisles these days.”
As far as developing the games goes, Baker said they try to come out with new games as soon as possible to stay current with what’s going on in the world.
“We move very quickly and generally start with a news event, which leads to a point of view, which leads to some funny or interesting gaming mechanic,” he said. “Like the idea of having to hit the letters ‘T’ and ‘P’ on your keyboard to think and pray as hard as you can. From there, we try to map the idea onto an old game, which dials up the nostalgia angle and increases the potential popularity and helps us not have to reinvent the wheel a bit, in terms of game design.”
The games have racked up praise on sites like Polygon and Gamasutra but, even though they seem perfectly suited for the format, that doesn’t mean you’ll be playing GOP Arcade Games on your iPhone anytime soon. Apple rejected them from the App Store.
“We submitted the app before Trump was elected, when the corporate class was still wary about having to draw some kind of ideological line,” he explained. “Instead [Apple] demurred. That, and something about celebrating the bombing of places in Bomb The Right Place“
For now, you can play all 12 games on the group’s website, with more promised in the future. Whether or not they will make an impact on American politics remains to be seen, but they certainly could make your day a little less boring, and there’s something to be said for that.
David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.