Elephant Hunting App-style

Otto Steininger, illustrator and design entrepreneur, has just released a release-the-stress-of-the-election-year digital game. “Smack That Elephant” is a phone app that offers many moments of fun for the Democrat that has everything, including depression over this year’s congressional results. I asked him what prompted such a project and here is what he said:

Why this app at this time?
A few months ago during one of many moments of anger at the sheer absurdness of the ever more venomous right-wing propaganda machine I fantasized: “what if I could just smack them off the map?” I had been thinking about developing a game for the iPhone for a while so I decided, why not do this one first because I have a real deadline: the midterm elections. Unfortunately the release has been delayed several times because either myself or the programmer was tied up with work from our regular clients, so the release happened much later than we had planned. And then the next obstacle was the realization that Apple does not accept any “[…] offensive or defamatory content […] that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone […] users.” So we turned to Google’s Android platform, knowing that Google seems to respect the First Amendment.

Have you met with any app store problems?
So far none (in this case it’s called Android Market—the app store is Apple’s own iPhone-specific store). In fact it is a lot easier to launch an app or game on Android Market because you are not subject to Apple’s content-controlling  approval process.

What is the reward at the end of the game?
The reward is that you can, if you are politically so inclined, stem the tide of states turning red and gradually turn the map into a nice, soothing blue. You can influence the outcome by being a deft player—just like in real politics. And you can play it over and over again, beating your own score or that of a friend.

16 thoughts on “Elephant Hunting App-style

  1. Otto Steininger

    I welcome the idea of showing graphics from the other end of the political spectrum. I enjoy parody and satire from all sides. I actually enjoy watching the O’Reilly factor, believe it or not.

    When it comes to polarization, I remember this: Obama has run for office on a positive theme and has spent the first year of his presidency tirelessly reaching out across the aisle in an effort to overcome polarization. He was greeted with unprecedented hostility and rejection. At the same time he has found himself demonized by a relentless propaganda apparatus that has portrayed him as foreign-born, a Muslim, a socialist, Nazi, death-panelist etc. etc. — with such persistence that growing parts of the Republican and Tea Party voters start taking all of these absurdities for the truth.

    Unfortunately this rhetoric is not that found on some apps but comes out of the mouths of politicians who seek office.

    This has helped foster a climate in which there is a growing acceptance for violence (militia shooting cops, anti-gay violence, hate crimes etc), in which it seems to be OK to fly a plane into an IRS office, in which it seems to be OK to think out loud about rolling back civil liberties standards achieved in the 60s.
    I realize that these are acts of extremist but they have now more currency than less than eight years of Bush/Cheney.

    The damage of polarization has been done — and I don’t think a smartphone game can mend this rift.
    It can be fun for some, but what it can do for all of us is open up discussions, and that’s all I could have hoped for.

  2. S

    I understand DH needs to cater to both sides of politics. Now, let see some good Republican design work to balance it out. There is plenty of good designs for both sides of the political spectrum.

  3. Steven Heller Post author

    To lump all people of a particular point of view into one ghetto is indeed unfair, damaging and perpetuates the negativity and polarization that is dominating today’s political debate. Despite my choice of themes, I would rather not see such polarization.

    From time to time, of course, political issues intersect with design issues. This is where I find many interesting things to cover. I’ve made my own politics clear in this area, so I am not hiding behind objectivity. Yet I appreciate what some of the comments say about being “balanced.”

    I try to focus on things that I think might be of interest to the readers. This app struck a chord on various levels and I felt an interview with the creator would be the best way to cover it.

    That it generates controversy is not a surprise. Yet I hope that as a forum DH readers will make their beliefs and intellects known. And for those who click “unsubscribe” I am really sorry to loose you.

  4. Dϟ13

    Seems like a moot point to me. What would you like to see- a ‘punch-Pelosi-in-the-face’ app? That’d be just as unavailing as the app covered in this ridiculous story. Clever/well-designed or not, it would still be a waste of creative talent that would only further propagate the”US vs THEM” mentality that plagues this country.

    The thing about elephants and donkeys is that they both shit all over this country. The “CHANGE” will have to come from the people, not the interests of one party or another.

  5. Richard

    You can’t say that because Apple controls the content they sell on their app store means that they don’t observe or “respect” the first amendment. Are you going to say that Target doesn’t observe the first amendment because they don’t sell Democrat t-shirts? Apple controls what apps they want in their store just like a buyer picks out products they want to sell in their store. What they sell ultimately reflects their brand (something designers know about), so good for Apple to say NO we don’t want a negative political game in our store.

  6. Mary Marchese

    I agree with a lot of the comments above! Steven love your column and your talent. Keep politics out of it and stick to what you know best. That is all the donkeys do is blame the previous administration. It gets so tiring. Such a typical media bias thing — the higher road is a much better place to achieve.

  7. Paula Guthat

    This is a really snazzy app but I think the country would be better served if the designer-progressives using this app actually went out and got involved in doing something to make the change they want actually occur.

  8. Brian Miller

    Dear Steven, I’m sorry you always let your politics show through so blatantly. When will you either play it fair to all perspectives, or just stay out of it altogether. It really taints your content, and how we view your commentary–when you consistently report/view/comment through such biased lenses. It would be REALLY REFRESHING to see you report/write from an “EQUAL TIME” perspective when it comes to this type of thing. Take the high road for a change, please–when you have the opportunity to “pick sides”—and DON’T. I like your work A LOT—when you do, but really lose respect for you when you fall into the trap so many professed “open-minded” people of your political persuasion tend to fall into. Play it neutral, be a design oriented purist, and take a higher road. Please.

  9. Sandra

    Interesting. Fair game, but what has the left side done these past couple of years? NOTHING! Oh yeah, one thing. They constantly blame the previous administration, but there’s nothing of all the CHANGE talk they were so excitingly promoting.

  10. hnagel

    Just one more stupid thing to help divide Americans. Maybe the time to create this app could have been used in a more constructive way.

    I totally agree with ThatNizzleDizzle.

  11. ThatNizzleDizzle

    This is incredibly stupid. I’m sick and tired of party politics that have polarized the people of the US.
    Ever heard of “divide and conquer”? Pick a side and in-fight, meanwhile both sides of the same coin keep you down regardless. This idiocy only helps to keep the animosity going.

    And Sarah Palin? Really? How is she even relevant to politics anymore? This is incredibly petty and it’s a shame such talent and time was devoted to this. People need to wake up and stop aligning themselves with donkeys and elephants.

  12. Tom Lewek

    …and… unsubscribed.

    Attn: Web Developer
    Clicking into any of these form elements at any time to leave a comment or edit this text automatically opens a new window to buy books at mydesignshop.com. It’s happened about 10 times for me already.

    You may want to clear up this issue as soon as possible.

    Tom Lewek