It’s Icy Tower meets Flappy Bird meets Election 2016. Don Rowe speaks to the Auckland-based designers of Jrump, the game that puts The Donald in the hands of the people, rather than other way around.
Kiwis are famous for our seemingly innate ability to make light of serious situations. But these days, what with people living in cars courtesy of our housing ‘challenge’ and all that, there’s not a whole lot to laugh at here at home.
However we can still laugh at other people’s problems, and right now there’s no problem more terrifying than the very real possibility that a lying, racist, incoherently idiotic oompa loompa like Donald Trump may be in possession of the world’s greatest nuclear arsenal by Christmas. Fortunately, a pair of Auckland design studios might have found the funny side, and a golden ticket in the process.
Jrump, a mashup of the words jump and Trump, is the first mobile game released by Auckland-based designers and programmers Oddboy and App Arcanum. After winning Election 2016, Trump has set his sights on making the entire universe great again, and endeavours to leap his way to space on the back of player-built walls. But look out, because it’s raining mexicans and climate change scientists, both of which are deadly to a politician’s rhetoric, and Trump’s political rivals have also taken to the skies in jetpacks to prevent his ascension.
Built in 12 weeks and released just four days ago, Jrump was tracking well north of 20,000 downloads when I spoke to Ben Markby, one half of Oddboy, yesterday. Now featured in international media such as The Huffington Post, those numbers are just the beginning.
“It’s been absolutely crazy,” said Markby. “The speed at which it’s happened has kind of blown us away,”
Then again, in a world where a misogynistic tax cheat with skin like a satsuma and hair like a dead guinea pig is on the cusp of leadership of the free world, anything is possible.
“This whole year with the election has been a real rollercoaster,” Markby said. “Donald Trump has been up and down in the polls, sometimes it’s seemed like a joke and other times it’s like ‘Oh wow, he could actually be president’. Now it’s getting a little bit serious and it’s kind of scary to be honest.”
But we laugh in the face of danger, and so too do Oddboy and App Arcanum, providing a line of ridiculous costumes to dress up The Donald in anything from speedos to a rooster to the worlds most hideous maid outfit.
“We felt like if we could put him in costumes it just takes away some of the power he has, and maybe gives the user and the player a little more,” says Markby. “They might have control over The Donald, rather than the other way around.”
The Donald has been voiced, too, with a script of braggadocios blather entirely in character with Trump himself on a polite day. But writing the script was an act of bravery, taking on the psyche of a maniac, emulating his syntax (or lack of) and generally coming closer to being one with the beast is dangerous. How did Markby cope?
“I found it fascinating. I find it fascinating how he can captivate so many people. I find him captivating, I don’t necessarily agree with what he says obviously, but he’s an enigma. It’s bizarre how so many people have gathered behind his persona and his kind of celebrity.
“I don’t know what it says about the world at the moment, but it’s kind of crazy and kind of scary as well.”
Kind of crazy, kind of scary, kind of exactly like Trump.
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