Super Obama World

Each weekend Iain Simons provides you with a game that'll help you while away a few hours. This time

Each weekend Iain Simons provides you with a game that'll help you while away a few hours. This time it's Super Obama World. Enjoy wisely...

A ludic footnote to a most networked of presidential campaigns has emerged in the form of Super Obama World. This lovingly assembled work pays solemn tribute to the man and his ideas through the medium of the browser-based flash game, itself perhaps the only form of digital communication the Democrats didn’t use during the election.

Unexpectedly, whilst nothing on the original, it’s quite good fun. Whilst not eschewing the satirical heights of ‘Super Columbine Massacre RPG’, the developers have instead delivered a series of pixel-art character jokes wrapped within a gentle pastiche of Super Mario Bros. The game borrows the map interface from the Nintendo classic although rather than bouncing around the Mushroom Kingdom, here you traverse the States of the USA. The action begins in the colds of Alaska with a level entitled, ‘I can see Russia from my House!’ Indeed, within moments you’re beset by lipstick-wearing pigs as you make your way to a showdown with Palin herself.

In a nice-touch (although one senses it may be one they come to regret) developers Zensoft have promised to continue updating the game with more States in the weeks to come,”…including Arizona, Illinois, and D.C. levels. Just because the campaign is over doesn't mean the excitement has to be!”

Play Super Obama World

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.