Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Obama takes lead in virtual world

Super Obama World
Super Obama World takes a satirical swipe at US politics

A new online video game has been developed in honour of US President-elect, Barack Obama.

Super Obama World has Obama running round a world modelled on Nintendo's Super Mario World.

The game takes a satirical look at US politics, with Obama collecting flags and dodging lipstick-wearing pit bulls, lobbyists and Sarah Palin.

The game is free to play online, and the developers plan to add further episodes throughout Obama's presidency.

As well as satirical characters, the game's environment also features luxury stores Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, in reference to the fact that the Republican campaign reportedly spent more than $150,000 on vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's wardrobe.

As much as the Obama campaign embraced technology, it can be said that technology embraced him. Obama supporters spawned viral videos such as "I've got a crush on Obama" and numerous fan sites.

Though Republican nominee John McCain's camp established an online presence making use of new media, McCain was more often the subject of online parody; millions viewed the animated "Time for Some Campaignin'" by digital entertainment studio JibJab although, to be fair, both candidates were parodied in equal measure.

This might go some way to explain why young voters, who themselves embrace the web and new media, favoured the Democrats by more than two to one.

Time for change?

However, there are moves within the Republican Party to broaden the way it campaigns.

Whoever is the next chairman of the party needs to fix this problem straight away
Patrick Ruffini
former eCampaign director, RNC

A group of young Republicans has launched a website called Rebuild the Party to make better use of the internet, improve grassroots support and, according to the site, "start building the future of our party".

Erick Erickson, who is spearheading the project, said that once the Republican party leadership contest was out of the way, the party needs to get behind the proposal and make the internet a top priority.

"The right really has a hard time embracing the internet like it should," he said. "The internet is a natural stick for people on the right - there are probably more right wingers than left online, but the trick is harnessing those people.

"On 15 January we'll have a new leader. Once he - or she - is in place, we want to see a technology director appointed within the Republican National Committee [RNC] and we want them set loose. And that means developing it outside the party, and the bunker mentality that can set in after a political defeat."

Patrick Ruffini, the former director of the RNC's eCampaign, echoed Erickson's views.

"This is a galvanising moment for the party. Whoever is the next chairman of the party - and the new party leaders - need to fix this problem straight away," he said.

"For us, now, it's a tool of opposition. You only have to look at what the Conservatives did in the UK, with WebCameron, to see what is possible," he added.

A spokesperson for the Conservative party told BBC News that a future video game featuring David Cameron was unlikely, but couldn't be ruled out.

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