“PussyWalk” Satirizes President’s Parade of Gaffes  

Control a drunken Milos Zeman in a new online video game  

By Peter Slattery

The video game “PussyWalk” presents a simple goal: walk an old man from one side of a room to the other. It seems harmless, even mundane.

Look a little closer and you find a thinly veiled parody of the Czech Republic’s president, Milos Zeman.

Created by a team of Czech designers and released in December 2014, PussyWalk puts the user in the shoes of President Zeman. The player controls the Zeman figure with the arrow keys on a drunken stroll down a cluttered hallway, eventually falling into “Propadliste Dejin,” which roughly translates from Czech as “History’s Shithole.” 

The title “PussyWalk” pokes fun at Zeman’s expletive-ridden rant deriding Russian punk group Pussy Riot in an interview with Czech public radio last November. His comments, which included words including “b****” and “f***”, feature his attempts to translate the band name “Pussy Riot” to Czech. Zeman’s vulgarity was condemned by media worldwide, including The Washington Post.

Zeman’s in-game goal of reaching the crown jewels recalls his suspected drunken appearance at a 2013 exhibition of the Bohemian Crown Jewels at Prague Castle. The controversial leader has frequently boasted about his love for alcohol, particularly the Czech herbal spirit Becherovka.

According to PussyWalk project director Vaclav Krbusek, the game has received about 1.5 million hits, with about 600,000 unique users visiting the site. Much of the traffic was sparked by Facebook sharing.

“The process of making PussyWalk took nearly a year,” Krbusek said. “It all started when I was in a pub with some friends in December 2013, and a friend of mine had the idea, ‘Let’s do a drunk walk game with the President.’ We were thinking about stereotypical flash games where you control a figure that’s wobbling and hard to control, but we wanted to make a proper one with a physics engine and then with this political spin.”

At first, PussyWalk appears easy to play. The player is prompted to use simply use the left and right arrow keys to walk Zeman to the end of a room to reach the crown jewels. However, you soon realize Zeman appears haggard and drunk, smoking and muttering Czech under his breath. His legs are hard to control, and the game requires exacting rhythm so the character doesn’t fall flat on his back or face.

The gameplay resembles a similar Flash game called QWOP, in which gamers try to control a runner’s legs, but the controls are so spastic it becomes a Herculean challenge to advance. QWOP went viral in 2010 and was admired for its maddening difficulty. While PussyWalk is less challenging than QWOP, it is notable for its parody of Zeman’s troubles in both its name and gameplay.

Each session playing PussyWalk lasts only a few minutes. Though your Zeman character starts each round with two lives and can pick up more lives by grabbing floating bottles of painkillers along the walk. Zeman loses these lives with frustrating ease by falling. Simple obstacles like toy cars, chairs and a flight of stairs are major challenges for the presidential character to overcome. However, if you manage to beat the short level, you unlock “Freedom Mode,” which allows you to move Zeman easily across the level with the computer mouse.

President Zeman has achieved notoriety for a series of erratic public appearances, including several where he appeared intoxicated. Photo courtesy of PussyWalk.

President Zeman has achieved notoriety for a series of erratic public appearances, including several where he appeared intoxicated. Photo courtesy of PussyWalk.

Krbusek, a digital designer and Prague resident, was responsible for much of the design and animation of “PussyWalk” with  help from designers Jiři Vana and Vojtech Smíd. In-game music contributed by Czech DJs Mindhole and Total Woods. Though the game was sponsored by SYMBIO Digital, a digital design company based in Prague. It features no advertisements and has been posted not-for-profit.

PussyWalk is just one of many artistic response’s to Zeman’s largely unpopular presidency. In October 2013, for instance, famed Czech artist David Cerny floated a giant sculpture of a hand giving the middle finger down Prague’s Vltava River aimed toward Prague Castle, Zeman’s residence. 

Since he assumed office in March 2013, Zeman’s presidency has come under public scrutiny. The former prime minister seemed to be intoxicated during an appearance on Czech Television in January 2013, although Zeman’s staff claimed he simply had the flu.

Zeman’s sympathetic statements towards Russia and his unwillingness to condemn the country’s autocratic President Vladimir Putin have been widely criticized by Czechs as well. Zeman was pelted with eggs and tomatoes in November 2014 during celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution shortly after he declared that the conflict in Ukraine was  “a civil war between two groups of Ukrainian citizens.” Consequently, one of Zeman’s biggest obstacles in PussyWalk is a barrel of spilled “RusOil.” The Czechs are a leading importer of Russian gas.

Krbusek finds Zeman’s behavior both puzzling and absurd.

“His popularity has been up and down, and his popularity does depend on where you are as well, but he’s made so many mistakes,” Krbusek said. “He’s almost more of a celebrity figure. It seems like he does things just to get noticed. Some people have told me that this game will just give him more publicity, and it’s a valid point, but I think the game will mostly expose how ridiculous he is.” 

Krbusek and his team hope to release a new level of PussyWalk entitled “PussyWalk II” at the end of February.

Peter Slattery is a Junior at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. His hometown is Oak Park, Illinois.

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Categories: Spring 2015 Issue Number 1

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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