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Cheeky video game takes on troubles of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Add to ...

The goal of the game is right in its name: Stay Mayor.

The ongoing scandal involving Rob Ford and an alleged video of him smoking crack cocaine has inspired a group of Toronto developers to create a video game based on the allegations.

The game, which is available as a free download for Android phones and tablets, allows users to play mayor as he flees from reporters, avoids crack pipes, and tries to pick up as much cash as possible in order to buy the alleged video before Gawker gets it. The player can pick up footballs along the way and lob them at nasty cameramen who try to get in the mayor’s way.

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“The whole concept here is you’re trying to run away from problems and stay mayor as long as possible,” Ben McEvoy, one of the game’s co-founders said in an interview.

And what happens if the mayor run into too many cameras or crack pipes?

“He slows down, then eventually the media scrum overtakes him. The metaphor is that he has to deal with the media now, which is probably his worst nightmare,” Mr. McEvoy said.

The player then sees a sad screen that says "bunch of maggots," he added.

The game is based on reports from Gawker and The Toronto Star about an alleged video that purportedly shows Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Mr. Ford has denied allegations that he smokes crack cocaine, and said that no such video exists.

Stay Mayor is the debut project from Extra Extra Games, a company that aims to pull together quick games based on news events. Mr. McEvoy, along with the company’s co-founders Barney Wornoff and Daniel Whiffing, had been waiting for a news event to base their first game on when they heard about Mr. Ford and the alleged crack video.

“When the scandal hit, it was just too juicy for us not to try and do something,” he said.

They pulled the game together in about two weeks, in the hopes of having it go live during Gawker’s "Crackstarter" campaign (which aimed to crowdsource $200,000 to buy the alleged video). In the two weeks it has been available in the Google Play store, Mr. McEvoy said, about 500 people have downloaded the game.

The group behind Extra Extra isn’t new to creating topical video games. Mr. Wornoff, the company’s creative director, is also behind the "Ikea Monkey" game that was massively popular earlier this year.

That game is based on Darwin, the shearling coat-clad monkey found wandering in an Toronto Ikea parking lot late last year. Users set out to pick up as many bananas as possible in the game, with the ultimate goal of buying an Ikea shelf. Get hit by a shopping cart and Darwin dies.

Mr. McEvoy said that, while Stay Mayor may not be as polished as a game like Angry Birds – which can take from six months to a year to build – the quick turnaround time means their games can provide social or political commentary on topical events. It can also generate conversation, which he says he’s already seeing in the buzz around Stay Mayor.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth thousands and thousands of words,” he said.

Other games, including Pop Sandbox’s Pipe Trouble (the objective of which is to lay oil pipes without disrupting the environment), and Sweatshop HD (a strategy game where users play factory boss), have also used the video-game medium to spark discussions on serious issues.

Mr. McEvoy said that he and his colleagues have batted around other game ideas involving Rob Ford: the mayor driving down the Gardiner while reading, or Rob Ford fighting Olivia Chow in a street fighter-type game.

Their ambitions aren’t limited to municipal politics, either. “We’ve looked at maybe a Stephen Harper Game, or a Barack Obama or Berlusconi game,” he said.

Follow on Twitter: @annhui

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