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UA grad knocks out election with new app

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Logan Cook
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UA alumnus Aaron Ellis co-directed a free mobile game hoping to bring satire to the 2016 presidential election.

“Election Knockout” gives players the chance to box for 12 rounds against presidential candidates Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump while on a quest for a final prize.

This is the third app All in Software LLC, made up of Ellis and co-director Mike Willits, has produced.

“The last couple of weeks, it’s just really taken off,” Ellis said. “What’s amazing is we thought people in the U.S. are going to really enjoy it … but internationally it’s taken off.”

Ellis said “Election Knockout” is being played in all 50 states, but also in nearly 120 countries around the world.

“The conventions were going on and the candidates Trump and Hillary were just starting to really go at it,” Ellis said regarding when he came up with the idea.

Willits described being like-minded with Ellis to create the game.

“The big thing we thought is that this election is out of control.”

As the campaign process became more negative, Ellis and Willits decided to make use of it.

RELATED: How to vote if you’re a UA student

“It’d be really cool to make a game where you put the candidates in the ring and let users just go and box them,” Ellis said.

Once in the ring with the desired candidate, the player will hear and see different mannerisms and sound effects. Within the game’s various sounds, Clinton can be heard mentioning her “emails” while Trump can be heard saying “huge.”

Once a candidate has been knocked out, their heads spring up like the old-school Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots game first made in 1964.

“That is why we did it—this looked like it would be funny,” Willits said. “We kind of wanted to put thatRock ‘Em Sock ‘Emknockout thing behind it.”

Although “Election Knockout” has only been out a couple of months, the game has been their most popular so far.

Ellis said with people’s displeasure from each campaign and debate, it has generated more feedback.

“Now it gives an outlet for people who have been upset with either one,” Ellis said. “A lot of people think it’s funny, some are just going in and taking out their frustrations.”

Ellis, who graduated from the UA in 2005 with a degree in mathematics and computer science, has been working on mobile games for the past couple years with Willits. They both have spent that time learning the specifics of game development.

“We’re really good at software, but that’s only a small part of it,” Ellis said. “The other part is graphic design and then music, then marketing, which we’re still figuring out … it’s a lot harder than you think.”

Willits said users have wanted to see added opponents, but it’s not so simple.

RELATED: Will Arizona go blue this election? UA School of Government and Public Policy professors say yes and no

“It takes a long time to get all the graphics behind it,” Willits said. “We contract out a lot of stuff—we don’t really have the artistic skill set to go out there and do it.”

Even with just the two candidates, Willits said they are happy with the outcome. During the development process they were surprised by how quickly mobile games make it to market.

“That was one thing we didn’t quite realize,” Ellis said. “Had we started in 2008 when smart phones were just coming along, you could make an app and you [didn’t] need to market it or anything and it [would be] gold.”

All In Software hopes to use its successful game as a platform for bigger ideas.

“Hopefully, we’re going to use this as a springboard to start developing some other ideas we have,” Ellis said.


Follow Shaq Davis on Twitter.


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