I probably could have made this up if I tried, but you wouldn’t believe it if I did.Trump Effect
In a US presidential campaign season full of unexpected moments and petty squabbles between candidates and public figures of all stripes, today’s interaction between Donald Trump and Electronic Arts still ranks as one of the oddest.
This afternoon, the publisher issued a YouTube takedown notice for a video supporting Donald Trump that uses voices and music from 2010’s Mass Effect 2, after the candidate himself tweeted the video approvingly to nearly 7.5 million followers earlier in the morning.
The ad, which appears to have been created by an individual fan with no official connection to the Trump campaign, draws directly from Mass Effect 2’s launch trailer, overlaying a speech from Martin Sheen’s Illusive Man character with videos and photos from modern America. “We’re at war,” Sheen intones over scenes of generalized and specifically Trump-related chaos. “No one wants to admit it, but humanity is under attack. One very specific man might be the only thing that stands between humanity and the greatest threat of our brief existence.”
The Mass Effect content is roughly intercut with images and messages from Trump supporters, as well as lines from Trump’s stump speech about making America great again.
It ends with the message that “the American people are DONE with career politicians” and an entreaty to “GO OUT & Vote for Trump.” Yet there are some signs the video could be an elaborate, trollish joke against Trump, including an image with the non sequitur purported Trump quote, “No more oreos!”
While the YouTube version of the video “is no longer available due to a copyright claim by EA,” the video is still currently up at its original location on vid.me, where it was posted a week ago as “a Mass Effect 2 launch trailer parody video covered under Fair Use,” according to its description.
The video is also still available directly through Trump’s tweet itself, as well as through the original March 31 ‘Immigrants 4 Trump’ tweet that seems to be the source for Trump’s reposting [Update: Trump’s tweet has now “been withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder,” but previous tweets with the same video seem unaffected so far].
“The video was an unauthorized use of our IP,” an EA spokesperson told Game Informer. “We do not support our assets being used in political campaigns.”
Veteran Mass Effect developer Manveer Heir offered his own two cents about the video on Twitter, saying that seeing his game’s assets used in “campaign propaganda” was “#gross.” “I love the idea that Trump may think he’s the Illusive Man, who is verifiably the bad guy in the game,” Heir tweeted. “Trump is indoctrinated, that makes so much damn sense.
THE REAPERS ARE REAL.”
Trump’s major competition for the GOP nomination, Texas senator Ted Cruz, has reportedly been a serious video game fan since childhood, though his current tastes apparently run more toward Plants vs. Zombies than Mass Effect.
Trump himself isn’t the first GOP candidate to subtly integrate game-related content into his campaign (intentionally or not).
Back in 2011, pizza chain magnate Herman Cain movingly quoted a line from Pokemon: The Movie 2000 multiple times before suspending his failed bid for the presidency.