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Grand Theft Georgia 

Little Sonny-boy gets his wish for Christmas

Merry Christmas, Mr. Governor. Or may I call you Sonny, Sonny? Ho, ho, ho!

I've checked my list and found that you've been delightfully nice, not naughty. That is, of course, the politicians' list, where everything is the opposite of its actual meaning.

You'll be peachy-happy to know your hard work is paying off, and you'll get your heart's desire.

That wonderful, magical gift is the fun, real-life video game, "Grand Theft Georgia," also known as "The Death of a State."

It all starts when you load the game into your PlayStation 3. What happens? Why, nothing short of a miracle. Your bank account swells with tons of cash delivered to you by my elves, aka "lobbyists."

Now that your "war chest" is brimming with money, you must navigate treacherous political problems. As the game develops, you often have more to fear from friends than foes. (See "Watching Your Back" below.)

In fact, the "enemies" are really just props that a savvy Level 3 game master uses to win "popularity points." Most of your ersatz adversaries are called "Democrats." They do really dumb things, such as "make radio commercials" when you land on one of the "My Lucky Day" spaces. Those commercials will contain such inanities as telling "voters" their lives are in danger if they don't vote for Democrats.

"Voters" will become outraged, and demand you create a new county for them that includes no "poor people," who are non-players appearing mostly as black and brown dots on the game board. Since the "poor people" are also usually Democrats, they are totally irrelevant to winning the game.

When you (and your teammates, who are called "senators" and "reps") kick enough of those black and brown dots -- and, with our recent upgrade, the "illegal alien" dots -- into the game board's margins, you increase your "bigot score." In "Grand Theft Georgia," that's almost the same as hard currency.

"Voters" aren't ever seen during game play. You can usually take them for granted. However, periodically you must manipulate or "scare" them -- for example, telling "voters" that homosexuals want to marry their sons and daughters. The best tactic for maximizing points with that "scare" is enlisting the aid of the player named "Sadistic Sadie," who "fields" an awful translation of the Bible in one hand and a candidate scorecard in the other. When "Sadistic Sadie" isn't scaring "voters," she can be used to enforce discipline among "senators" and "reps." She'll also do entertaining antics of little point value, such as dissing her own daughter, the "Lesbo," while screeching that she's "defending families."

(On the companion game re-released every two years, "Grand Theft Nation," the best "scare" is when a player called "The Draft Dodger" broadcasts a commercial that claims another player, "The War Hero," is really a tool of evil terrorists. There was a lad in Georgia, Saxby I think was his name, who became a Supreme Grand Master because he perfected that particular "scare." Unfortunately, that version of "Grand Theft" has been recalled after it blew up in the hands of game players across the nation a few weeks ago.)

If you "scare" enough voters, you get "good polls," and enough "good polls" can be traded in with the "lobbyists" for more gazillions of dollars.

At this point in the game, you really haven't done anything. Many expert players claim that's an excellent strategy, since whatever the enemy Democrats do is bound to be inept, miscalculated and self-defeating.

However, the early moves of the game require the "appearance of action" so that you can progress to stage two of "Grand Theft Georgia" called "re-election."

The "appearance of action" is best when you claim that it "benefits voters." For example, you can announce you are "working for our children." The expert gamesman knows there really is no benefit in working for children -- at least when it comes to getting "lobbyists" to give you cash.

This brings us to the next category of player, "businessmen," who arm the "lobbyists" with dollars. The "businessmen" are really the only important players, and clearly have the most "hit points." These "businessmen" belong to subgroups such as "developers," "road builders," "bankers" and "utilities." The true skill of the game is giving the "appearance of action" that "benefits voters" while actually advancing the secret plans of "businessmen," whose goal is to "screw people."

That will get you the most money, mountains of it, from "lobbyists."

All of that game wealth locks in an almost sure victory in the "sudden-death re-election" sequence. (Note: Money isn't always the deciding factor -- see the "Barnes Exception" in the rulebook -- especially when your bigot points are sagging, which alienates weird creatures called "flaggers.")

Even though you absolutely don't have to do anything after winning "re-election" except count your money, remember to "watch your back." Other players, with names such as "Lite Guv" and "Speaker" want to grab your share of the "lobbyists'" greenbacks.

If you win re-election -- or even if earlier in the game it's clear you'll be victorious -- move to the "Increase Personal Wealth" corner of the board. This will entitle you to buy a $20 million piece of real estate in Florida for only $2 million from a "businessman." Of course, you'll be obligated to do certain favors for the "businessman," which as noted above entails "screwing people" while giving the "appearance of action."

The final stage of the game is why "Grand Theft Georgia" is also dubbed "The Death of a State." If you have played well for the powerful "businessmen," then the game will transform itself into something resembling the scorched surface of the planet Mercury. The state will be completely covered with roads and shabby little boxes called "suburban homes" and "strip malls." The roads will be coated with automobiles that can't move. You may not be able to see any of that, however, because the air will be black.

To quit the game at that point, press the button labeled: "Blame it all on terrorists, illegal immigrants, the media and Democrats."

Ho, ho, ho!

Kisses,

Santa

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