NBA Jam vs. Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon

Originally published on Trevor Trove on July 29, 2016

The early 90s was when I really followed basketball. For a few years there, I was a die hard Phoenix Suns fan. I collected basketball cards, went to games, and wore the crap out of my Trevor Ruffin jersey (#8) because he was the first famous Trevor I had ever heard about. And usually, if you found me playing NBA Jam at the arcade, you’d find me playing as the Suns.

NBA Jam, of course was the classic Midway 2-on-2 basketball arcade game where you could go “on fire” for scoring three straight baskets, miraculously dunk from half-court Space Jam-style, and – if you knew the right cheat codes – play as other characters/celebrities like one Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Now, bear in mind, this was about a decade before she would “wage war” on violent video games, referring to her efforts to pass legislation that would fine retailers for selling Mature or Adults Only games to underage players. Instead, it was closer to the time that she was actually enjoying games herself.

All in all, NBA Jam was a great series that didn’t take itself seriously and made for some great, goofy co-operative or competitive gameplay, both in the arcades, and at home on consoles.

About a decade later, Activision developed a title called Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon – a business simulation game banking on the popularity of other Tycoon series like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Railroad Tycoon and the “Trump” brand.

I never played the game myself but I remember seeing it on the occasional Wal-mart shelf in the bargain bins and whatnot. Amusingly, we have another example of a person indifferent to video games who then turns on them a decade or so later.

The difference being that if I had to guess I would suspect Mrs. Clinton wasn’t necessarily aware of her inclusion in NBA Jam, while Mr. Trump put his name on the game and provided his likeness and voice for his title. 

And while the objective of NBA Jam was to school your opponents on the basketball court, the goal for Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon was actually to be a better businessman than him and force him into bankruptcy.

All this to say, I believe tonight marks the first time that the Presidential nominees for both of the major political parties have been featured in video games. Or at least, featured this prominently. And in independent titles prior to the campaigns (so I’m not counting when something like The Sims creates special skins of the candidates for download).

America, huh? What a weird place?

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