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HTML5 game - playable in web browsers on PC, Mac, and Linux. Downloadable via the itch.​io app.
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American Election

by Greg Buchanan profile

Drama / Political
2019

Web Site

(based on 14 ratings)
6 member reviews

About the Story

A dark political nightmare game about Abigail Thoreau, a campaign assistant working to elect her candidate.

In this hour-long cyoa game (composed of eleven chapters), you make choices both political and personal as you face the final days of an alternate-universe 2016 and the mistakes of your past, your ex-girlfriend, and your relationship with your father.

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IGF AWARDS 2020 - EXCELLENCE IN NARRATIVE (Honorable Mention)
WORDPLAY 2019 - Official Selection

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: August 31, 2019
Current Version: 1.3
License: Freeware
Development System: Ink / HTML5
Forgiveness Rating: Merciful
IFID: Unknown
TUID: 6krecx5lhc9m3w7n

Editorial Reviews

Andrew Plotkin
"The story is a stream of failures, inadequacies, wrenched assumptions. Nothing you do is going to work out well. So you're never going to express a whole and satisfying Abigail. I suppose that's the point; the game is life in America over the past five years (or going back twenty or more, if you like). A relentless series of blows. It does this very well. Twists of phrase bite; mirrored images echo. It hurts."
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Rock Paper Shotgun
This was supposed to be a brief news post, but once I got started I had to see it through. This is apt. Abigailís path through this story can take different side streets, but heads in the same general direction. It crosses abuse, heartbreak, death, power, youtube radicalisation, and a lot of introspection. Though it follows the rise of a fictionalised tangerine mega-baby to the seat of American political power, it tells a deeply personal story thatís not really about him at all. And it knows youíre not going into this as blind as Abigail is. [...] There are acres of emotional and social subtext fit into this condensed story, and it hits far too many levels of uncomfortable reality to be taken lightly.
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Game Curator
ďAmerican ElectionĒ might be one of the most important indie games that you can experience this year. Dive into a thought-provoking game with intense dialogues as well as cleverly chosen iconography and background music. In the end, it shows that politics should neverever be left out of video games, as we might learn and think more about our world as we would do without playing them.
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The Indie Game Website
How do you make an interactive fiction where your sole mechanic is choice, that is also in itself a musing on the illusion of choice? Well, Greg Buchanan and a whole host of other creatives (Adam Coburn, Seb Peters, Matt Nichols, Cherie Davidson, Anthony Gambino, Tanya DePass & Gary Kings, to be exact) have managed to tackle just that in an hours worth of gameplay. American Election, playable free at itch.io, is a haunting, emotional and immersive experience for this reason, and you really donít want to miss it.
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Meristation
The most striking moments of the plot are those that seem smaller and insignificant in the face of the enormity of the historical moment we live. What does Abigail say to Truman before one of his speeches? What do you face on your ex-girlfriend's Facebook page? How did he behave when a stranger appeared in the middle of the road in his youth? What do you say to your father before leaving home? The protagonist, her vision of the world and her own life takes some of the best moments of this experience. Also notable are the scenarios of greatest tension, where we will feel in your skin thanks to the power of prose and small tricks such as the tremble in phrases or the change of music, effects that are effectively used to add drama with few resources.
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Imperica Magazine
A game which takes you through modern American politics in a series of creepingly-awful chapters which slowly and meticulously explore and unpack the vile, violent and angry nature of modern political discourse in the US. This is, honestly, masterful - a wonderful use of a lightly-interactive medium to tell all sorts of stories about the world we live in. It describes itself as ďA dark political nightmare game about Abigail Thoreau, a campaign assistant working to elect her candidateĒ, but, honestly, that doesnít give you any idea of quite how dark and brilliantly written this is. Play it - itís vastly more interesting than anything else youíre likely to do in the office today.
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Jefferson Toal
At the heart of American Election is a self-perpetuating cycle of trauma. Whether or not the choices it gives you tangibly affect the outcome is beside the point- each choice makes you complicit in its unfolding and the inevitableness of it all creates a sense of helplessness entirely in keeping with the story. If a generation from now someone asks me what it was like watching the rise of Trumpís America, I might just show them this.
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(8)
4 star:
(4)
3 star:
(1)
2 star:
(0)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A long Twine game with illustrations and music about Trump's election, June 22, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour
This game is one of the most difficult to rate that I've had in a long time. Not to play, but to rate adequately.

What does a good rating mean? Is it an endorsement? Is it a message that says, 'Hey, I'm sure you'll like this game?" Is it an objective measure of technical skill?

This game is very long, 11 chapters of text that took me over an hour to play. In it, you play one of Trump's campaign staff as you aid him (with an in-game alias of Truman Glass) in getting elected, and the aftermath.

There's been a lot of talk on Twitter in the last weeks about authors appropriating others' stories. As a white able-bodied man, I have written protagonists as female, or disabled, or hispanic, without really thinking about it.

This game goes a bit further, in that the author writes the experience of a queer woman in America with a minority second-generation immigrant background. And these facets are essential to the story. I see in the credits that others were consulted, so it's possible that this is what they were consulted on.

The minority you are is an option, and Polish ancestry is oddly listed along with Hispanic, Black and Indian ancestry. Is this saying that Polish people have similar experiences with POC? Or is it saying that it's immaterial which one you pick? Other details are off; the twin towers attack is described as happening at sunset, when I remember it happening during early hours at school in the West.

What is the story? It portrays the protagonist as divided against herself, constantly experiencing ill effects that are contrary to the ideals of the campaign she works for. It's not a straight-up retelling of Trump, but it's close enough. It veers between painting Trump as a hideous cartoon and glamorizing him as a tough-guy mob boss.

Politics have belonged in Interactive Fiction for decades, almost since the beginning. Infocom even had a game that was just a big anti-Reagan message (A Mind Forever Voyaging). It's a medium especially well suited to political messages.

I don't know if I felt comfortable with this game's messages. Like Trump itself, it stated controversial things (like saying being anti-vaxx and pro-choice have to go together) and then played it off as satire.

I don't endorse this game, except for players who are interested in seeing a take on American politics. I do give it a 4 star rating on my scale, knowing that this will be effectively seen as an endorsement, as it will be fed into the overall average.

My scale:
-Polish. The game is thoroughly polished, with text transitions, styling, illustrations, and music.
-Interactivity. I am definitely anti-slow text but this was better than most, with fast-forwarding enabled by clicking and a fairly fast speed to begin with. Choices were sometimes clearly not important/not offering real choice, but in general I felt like my choices mattered and they were brought up again in the future.
-Emotion. Well, I felt a large range of emotions playing.
-Descriptiveness. The writing made me feel like I was there.
-Would I play again? This is the star I'm not awarding. I don't really agree with this game, and don't feel like playing again.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Nuance in a setting where itís often absent., September 15, 2019
Nuance is often conspicuous in its absence when we analyse politics nowadays. The creators of ĎAmerican Electioní have done a wonderful job of putting the player in uncomfortable situations, providing them difficult choices to make.

Whilst it is often easy to lose sight of context nowadays, ĎAmerican Electioní provides plenty - but it doesnít let the player off the hook. There are so many harrowing moments here and the pacing of the narrative really helps build the tension, keeping you engrossed and clicking on to the next chapter without any desire to stop. The flow of the actual text is well judged too, not too fast nor too slow.

ĎAmerican Electioní carries with it a complexity which belies itís (relatively) simplistic, yet effective, appearance. One of this yearís must plays.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Insidious, uncomfortable, brilliant, September 13, 2019
My first post after playing through this game was, "I just finished American Election by Greg Buchanan. I need a hug, shower, kittens, & bourbon. I'm not sure if this was "too soon" for me to play this game, or just in time. I can say I've never played a game that made me more uncomfortable and I loved it."

In the days since, I've been mulling this game over and over in my mind. I both hated and loved the position and situations that Buchanan puts you into for this game. I only loved them because of how uncomfortable I felt, which made me deeply appreciate the way his masterful writing was bringing me along for the ride. Even though it was more like my car had been hijacked.

At times, the subtly was a bit ... large handed, and might have felt like digs, but they elicited a chuckle from me, lightening the mood when things might have been getting too heavy. Overall, I didn't mind it. It made it clearer and clearer who inspired this piece.

As someone who's about as far as possible from some of the views displayed here, playing this game felt like slowly sliding into a suit made from okra. The slimy kind. Okra is so gross. How do people even eat that? Anyhow, it also provided a really interesting look into the lives of people who think they're on the side of good, and how many things they turn a blind eye to ... until they either drown or can't deal anymore.

The game focuses on the discomfort, fear, and wrongness of current political situations. Putting the player right in the thick of it. Closer, perhaps, than they'd ever want to be.

I think this is a very important game and experience. It won't leave you mentally scarred, but it will make you think. It might wrap you in an okra suit, it might make you feel frustrated, it might make you even more firm in your convictions. I'm very curious how you'll come out on the other side, and what path your choices will take you down.

See All 6 Member Reviews

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This is version 10 of this page, edited by Greg Buchanan on 13 January 2020 at 4:30am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item