A mini version of HD Kumaraswamy jumps on to a slab titled ‘Kanakapura’, and crushes a closed fist, before leaping on to a slab titled ‘Channapatna’. He successfully conquers a saffron flower, and Ramanagara district is now his.
No, we didn’t manage to hack into a lucid dream of a loyal JD(S) supporter – or maybe we did. We’re not sure. What we do know is that this is just one sequence in a new Android game that the JD(S) has launched ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections.
The idea of the game is curious, and the interface is primitive, and we don’t know whether to laugh or cry or simply stay amused.
Widely touted to be a potential kingmaker in the upcoming polls in Karnataka, the JD(S) however has maintained that they will win the polls. And perhaps, the game is their bid to display their confidence. Titled ‘Kumaranna for CM’, to reach out to voters, the game can be downloaded on the Play Store by Android users, and resembles the popular video game Super Mario.
In the game, players can help Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) State President, ‘win’ different constituencies, from elements such as a closed fist, a saffron flower and a white circle – a clear allusion to the party’s opponents.
Kumaraswamy can be moved back and forth, and can leap surprisingly high on to the various slabs he has to conquer. Each slab is ‘defended’ by a closed fist (Congress), a saffron flower (BJP) or a white circle (Others/Independents) – based on who won the constituency in the last polls.
Once Kumaraswamy conquers a slab, the flag on it turns green, and a lady with a bundle of paddy on her head – the JD(S) symbol – appears on screen.
The villains become more complex in the later stages of the game – if Kumaraswamy’s character comes into contact with them, they can kill him with their axes! But, for some reason, in the game, HDK can’t attack these axe-wielding villains, he can only run and, if they 'kill' him, you’re directed back to the start of the game.
The game begins with an upbeat battle-theme music, and words flash on screen explaining how the state is seeing “hard times” and how only Kumaraswamy, former Chief Minister of the state, can save it. It ends with the words “Kumaranna for CM” flashing on the screen.
At the end of every stage – where one district has been won – a short ad with details from the JD(S) manifesto appears on screen. The final stage of the game has HDK winning the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, and entering the Vidhana Soudha.
At the time of writing this article, the game has been downloaded more than 5,000 times with 264 reviews. Its average rating is 4.8 stars and the “features” section calls it “Karnataka’s first political based 3D game.” The section also asks the players to “defeat the obstacles...and educate yourself about the contribution of JD(S) party”.
Speaking to TNM, Naveen C, the head of the JD(S) IT cell, said, “The game was created by Kiran Shivalinggegowda, a member of the party IT cell, who works in Omaha in the USA. Later, other members of the team also helped in its development. The game can also be downloaded from our website. When we last checked three days ago, it was downloaded over 14,600 times from the website.”
The three major political parties in the state election fray are trying hard to woo voters across various sections of society by deploying extensive social media strategies covering online videos, WhatsApp messages, games and more.
The BJP had launched a similar game featuring Narendra Modi in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
This game comes as a surprise because JD(S)’s politics is centered around farmers and rural Karnataka, and these sections are its main voter-base. This is being seen as an attempt by the party to reach out to urban, young and tech-savvy sections of the electorate