It's all a game for Bush vs. Kerry

The presidential race is being played out in several new video and online games.

Sorry to ruin the suspense--but Kerry wins.

At least that's the way it's working out in "Bush vs. Kerry Boxing," one of several new video games to capitalize on the current presidential campaign.

Sorrent, a specialist in games for cell phones, released the game this week in attempt to give a contemporary spin to virtual pugilism. Gamers can play as either Bush or Kerry, engaging in one-off bouts or advancing through a campaign mode with three-round matches against increasingly tough opponents from the opposing party. Sen. Hillary Clinton referees.

Robert Nashak, vice president of production at Sorrent, said the company already sells several traditional boxing games and saw an opportunity in an increasingly feisty campaign season.

"The inspiration was looking at Time magazine and seeing they kept referring to Bush and Kerry as contenders, and using all these boxing metaphors," Nashak said. "We thought it'd be fun to really put them in the ring."

The game turns out to be a good release for frustrated political wonks, Nashak said--especially if they've ever thought 15 rounds with light gloves might be a preferable alternative to the current electoral system.

"People are constantly talking about politics. They get all riled up, and this gives them an outlet," he said. Players also can post their results to the game's Web site. As of midday Wednesday, Kerry was edging Bush by about 100 points. Nashak declined to speculate on what that might mean for the real presidential race. "We're strictly nonpartisan," he said.

Players looking for a slightly more realistic take on campaign strategy are picking up "The Political Machine," recently published by Ubisoft Entertainment. The game casts the player as a virtual candidate who makes decisions on everything from which states to campaign in to what hot-button issues ads should be based on.

Players can run a Bush-Kerry standoff or pick from any of dozens of candidates from past and present. Match-ups between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton seem to be particularly popular. Exit polling on the game's Web site also gives Kerry the edge.

Free online games capitalizing on the campaign season include boxing title "Presidential Knockout," the semi-medieval "Bush vs. Kerry Joust" and slew of partisan games, courtesy of the Republican National Committee.

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