Fantasy Politics Games
Everybody knows games like fantasy football. You pick of draft your favorite real-life players and teams and gain points based on how well they perform statistically on the field. It is a very popular game with many sports fans. It has also spawned numerous other games based on the same game rules. One of those games is Fantasy Congress.
Fantasy Congress is for the follower of political news. If magazines like Time and Newsweek are on your regular reading list, this is the game for you. It allows amateurs (and maybe even some pros) to conduct what can only be termed fantasy politics. If you like to keep up with what is happening on Capital Hill, you should check this game out.
What Is Fantasy Congress?
Fantasy Congress is an online game where player, referred to as citizens, pick members of Congress to be on the player’s “team”. The player keeps track of the team members through their participation on issues in both the House and the Senate. Every action the Congressman takes, such as drafting and voting on bills or even scandals, is translated into a point system. So every time the Congressman does something, the player earns points.
Players can even join a league in order to participate in some fantasy politics. Leagues pit player versus player to see whose team of drafted Congressmen can earn the top number of points.
Congressmen earn points a variety of ways. One of the top is how many bills a Congressman sponsors. Other factors include how far from his party line he deviates, his attendance in Congress, and whether he ever votes against their party.
The game also gives details about every bill that passes through both the House and the Senate. By using a flowchart that explains the process of passing new laws, players can follow it all the way from its introduction to the desk of the President.
Besides just earning points in a game fashion, Fantasy Congress is also educational. It helps you keep track of what everyone is doing in Congress, especially who is involved and who isn’t doing anything. The game is a great introduction into our lawmaking processes and how politics in general work. You can also keep tabs on your state senators to make sure they are earning your vote.
Fantasy Congress History
The game of Fantasy Congress started back in 2005 when a guy named Andrew Lee, a student at Claremont McKenna College in California, came up with the idea. As a political enthusiast, Lee developed the concept of the game because his college roommate was always playing fantasy football.
Lee recruited some friends, Arjun Lall, Ethan Andyshak, and fellow college student Ian Hafkenschiel to help develop the website. Both Lall and Hafkenschiel had studied web programming in Professor Art Lee’s Distributed Software Architecture course at CMC. The group worked on the website throughout the summer of 2006 and with a $5,000 prize from a entrepreneur award from the school, launched the Fantasy Congress site in October 2006.
One of the challenges in creating the game was coming up with a relevant point system. In fantasy sport games, the statistics are automatically included as part of the real-life sport. But politics doesn’t have ready-made statistics to use. So Lee and his team adopted a system for awarding points determined by the Congressman’s actions.
When the site was first launched, it had 800 members. However, it soon grew to well over 20,000 members at one point. Most of the players were college students or young people in the twenties who followed the game as just a hobby. However, the game has been used by many classroom teachers to help educate students on U.S. politics.
Fantasy Congress Rules
The rules for Fantasy Congress are pretty straight forward. Players choose nine members of the House and four U.S. senators for their team. Naturally, some Congressmen are more valuable than others. You ideally want to choose the more active politicians.
Players draft their team members according to seniority. Usually, the older or longer a legislator has been in office, the more powerful and valuable they will be to your team (although this is not always the case). Depending on the rules of the particular league you happen to be playing in, drafting can be conducted either automatically, conducted off-line, or through a silent or open draft. You can even choose your team through an auction.
When choosing team members, a common strategy many players use is to pick legislators who belong to the ruling party of each chamber. Whichever political party has the majority is likely to be able to push through more legislature. But experienced players know that you can also pick minority political members who sometimes vote positively on bills sponsored by the opposition.
When it comes to points, the game gets very detailed. Since there are many actions a Congressman can take (including no action at all), the points must be clearly defined. The basis for all points awarded relies on a Congressman’s legislative success.
For instance, a Congressman can earn five points for introducing a bill or amendment. They can earn more points for successfully pushing through the legislative process. Points are earned for voting participation, for being a Maverick (voting against your party), and for being mentioned in the news. Congressmen gain points for every speech, amendment, and for their partisanship.
If a team member is not performing up to standard, or they resign leaving players one short, you can change your team members once a week. When the game was first introduced, legislators could appear on multiple teams but the creators altered the rules so that Congressmen could only play for one team at a time.