KUALA LUMPUR - With Malaysia's next general election expected to be very hard to call, I decided to apply the most objective methodology to find out the outcome - by playing an election-themed game.
"Conquest of Putrajaya" has been wildly popular since it was released by a Malaysian game developer last month. It is easy to see why.
The game, released for Android, boasts cute graphics and cartoon caricatures of top Malaysian politicians, including of Mr Najib Razak, Mr Taib Mahmud, Dr Chua Soi Lek and Mr G. Palanivel (for Barisan Nasional or BN) and Mr Anwar Ibrahim, Mr Lim Kit Siang, Mr Lim Guan Eng and Mr Hadi Awang (for Pakatan Rakyat or PR).
More importantly - let's be honest - it fulfills everyone's quiet fantasy of seeing squabbling politicians beat each other to a pulp.
Everything is kept G-rated though, with the politicians attacking each other with only words, pens and lollipops. No blood is spilt (hope that does not disappoint anyone).
The objective of the game is to spawn as many politicians as possible to "attack" your opponents. The more "powerful" politicians, however, take longer to "create".
So you have to figure out your strategy. Form a lot of foot soldiers in the form of Malaysian Indian Congress president Palanivel or Malaysian Chinese Association president Chua? Or spend more time creating a powerful Najib, whose 1Malaysia slogan can wreak some serious damage on the PR folks?
None of this mattered at the start, however, when I could not figure out the gameplay. Before I knew it, a dozen computer Palanivels were savaging my helpless Hadi Awangs.
Once I got used to the gameplay though, I progressed fairly easily through the first two stages - Penang and Selangor - winning them for PR. I would have to get through two more stages - Johor and Sarawak - before reaching Putrajaya, the last stage.
But when I got to Johor, a BN stronghold, things got a lot harder. I could not take Johor even after five attempts. Taib throws those lollipops with a lot of force.
At this point, I decided to switch sides and help BN. The gameplay here is quite realistic in that I now start from Sarawak - a BN "safe deposit" state - before moving, in reverse order, to Johor, Selangor and then Penang.
It was equally difficult. It took numerous rounds of fighting before I could get past the third state - Selangor.
In Penang, I got stuck again despite having the considerable might of Najib at this point (more politicians are "unlocked" as you progress). The opposition was spawning an army of Anwars, who attack you with "Reformasi" chants.
By this time, I had already been playing for well over an hour. It was past 1am and I was getting a bit blurry-eyed from all this politicking.
Putrajaya will have to wait.
But I guess it is true what some people say: when the fighting between politicians gets too fierce, nobody wins.