David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and the four other major UK party leaders have been turned into Tamagotchi-style virtual pets — and its up to you to keep them alive.
A new app for Android requires users to feed, entertain and exercise their political pets while also finding out more about their policies. Called Polipets, it is the work of a small group of developers who wanted to create a tongue-in-cheek but educational app for the 2015 general election. The free app will also be available on iOS from next week.
As well as letting users force Nigel Farage to go the the toilet or make Nicola Sturgeon cry, the app also includes reading lists with more information about policies and in-depth CVs, so you can find out more about their backgrounds.
As well as Cameron, Clegg, Farage, Miliband and Sturgeon the app also includes Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett from the Green Party.
Marcus Ball, a 25-year-old recent history graduate who headed up the project, said it was more than just a gimmick. “We’ve taken the most powerful people in the land and made them small, we’ve put politicians into the hands of the people and given them power over them,” he told WIRED.co.uk.
Ball, who says he can’t code, design or animate, enlisted the help of a small team of people from as far afield as China, Romania, Peru and Venezuela to create the app.
“I came up with the digital politician pets idea first when working late at night a few months ago,” he explains. “I thought it would be funny and then over the following days I asked myself how I could make it actually achieve something more than just humour.”
The app uses “unconventional methods” because conventional ones don’t work on a younger audience, Ball argues — adding that letting people kill their political pets was somewhat “extreme”.
“Parliament may be one the greatest institutions on the planet but it doesn’t know how to sell itself to a lot of the UK population it represents,” Ball argues. While controversial, he hopes the app can persuade more people to head to the ballot box and make better-informed decisions.