Imagine the delight in the Mother Jones DC office this morning when, exhausted from last night’s marathon Republican presidential debate, we discovered a nine-year-old web-based arcade game starring Bernie Sanders. We started playing it, and you can too.
The game, Bernie Arcade, comes from the Vermont senator’s 2006 reelection campaign and feels both very 2006 and very Bernie Sanders. It still lives online thanks to the Web Archive. The game features the candidate in an eco-friendly hydrogen-fueled plane. Using the arrow keys, the player navigates the plane through unfriendly skies, dodging the “extreme right wing,” big bags of special-interest money, mud from mudslingers, and literal fat cats. Wonky underdog that he is, Sanders fights back by shooting these objects with fact sheets as a jaunty bluegrass tune by a Vermont band, the Cleary Brothers, plays in the background.
The game gives players a glimpse of Sanders’ can-do pluck, even after his plane has crashed due to an onslaught of flying felines. “The good news is—and there is some good news out there—that is an unbelievable number,” his voice says after the game—even if your score is abysmally low.
Sanders’ isn’t the only candidate with a game to his name. This summer, the Mother Jones office gathered to play Trump: The Game, a bizarre Monopoly-style game in which players learn about the GOP front-runner by borrowing from an endless credit line with the bank to buy up real estate properties. But Sanders’ game takes the opposite approach. Instead of winning by acquiring cash, players are supposed to dodge the flying bags marked with dollar signs. As MoJo reporter Pat Caldwell observed, Sanders’ game forces successful players to unlearn what video gamers have been doing for years: winning games by acquiring money. “I lost immediately,” said MoJo reporter Tim Murphy, who reflexively went for the money on his first flight in the hydroplane.