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The GDAT. (fictitious Game and Digital Aptitude Test for testing presidential candidates)
Gregg Keizer, Omni. Nov, 1992.

 

You can just forget about judging the presidential candidates by how they handle the talk-show circuit or even how they cajole the House into transforming position papers into legislation. We know how to evaluate Clinton and Bush: with a day or two in front of a computer playing games.

In this electronic universe, candidates can be tested long before we give them the keys to the White House. Think of this GDAT (Game & Digital Aptitude Test) as a political simulator of sorts, a way to put a prospective president in a decision-making crucible without any danger of damaging the country. We make pilots practice on simulators - why shouldn't we let George and Bill practice before they play with the real thing?

The first GDAT task tests patience and perseverance: Set up a no-name PC clone, install Wing Commander II on the hard disk drive, and then get the game to run. If a guy can't figure this out on his own (no help from political handlers or Secret Service, please), he'll never puzzle out the country's troubles. Ten points for finishing; five for just getting the PC turned on. This one's a tossup, though Bush supposedly uses a PC in the Oval Office.

Next on the GDAT is a quick game of Tetris Classic, that addictive puzzle game where blocks fall from the sky. It'll test reflexes and quick-thinking skills, both essential to dealing with a fast-changing world. How can the president make the right move in Bosnia if he can't in Tetris?

Foreign policy's third on the GDAT. Sit Bush and Clinton in front of a PC running Balance of Power, a classic geopolitical simulator that puts them head-to-head with the ex-Soviet Union in a game of nuclear chicken. The USSR may be dead, but the game will still reliably test each man's coolness under crisis. Twenty points to anyone who survives the game, and immediate disqualification from the race if the game ends with a nuclear conflagration.

Each man may claim to be the environmental candidate, but why take their word? Let's find out with SimEarth or Global Effect, two games of planetary ecology. Can they turn off global warming or keep an endangered species alive? Manage the forests or manage to eradicate zillions of life forms? Ten points for the best-run planet (as judged by a panel of Nobel Prize winners); five points for simply keeping the world running. Bush will have to cheat on this one; whispers from Gore give Clinton the edge.

SimCity, SimEarth's predecessor, makes a great inner-city exam. This urban planner on the PC doesn't include South L.A.-style riots, but it'll test the candidates' abilities to manage city growth and even give us some insights into how eager they are to raise taxes. See if Clinton throws money at problems, as his detractors claim, and test Bush's free-enterprise zones. Ten points for a happy SimCity populous; minus five points if the little people toss the player out of the mayor's office.

Games can't cover everything, of course. There's no budget simulator, for instance, to test each man's skill with numbers. Instead, the GDAT uses a Lotus 1-2-3 or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that tallies up federal income and lists government's expenses. The candidates must fiddle with the numbers until the bottom line's a wash-no deficit allowed.

We can even test candidates for the vice president's spot. In fact, it's easy, since the only skill a VP really needs is golf. We'll run each potential veep through 18 holes of PGA Tour Golf for Windows. Bush's man Quayle should capture this easily unless the GDAT throws in a spelling game like Super Solver's Spell-bound! (Potato...P-O-T-A-T-O).

But why stop there? We test kids all the time, looking for the best and the worst. Why not do the same with every politico? Why not uncover the gifted public servants and spot the dullards?

I only want one thing for my idea: the franchise on the remedial classes that'll coach the GDAT. I'll be richer than Croesus in nothing flat.

© 1992 Omni Publications International Ltd.

 

 

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