A graduate student at the University of Southern California is working on a project that employs Half-Life 2 as a setting/context for political cartoons. Sounds a little out there, but MFA student John Brennan has turned out that video so far, which features Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama on a debate stage, and a headcrab just to show this is Half-Life 2 we're dealing with. And I guess those are combine soldiers in the back beating up on something as these two talk, too. It's more than some machinima. John's colleague, R.J. wrote me to say that it's an interactive piece, in which the user can press mouse buttons to get the two candidates to speak their lines. (You see it demonstrated in the video) "That part will probably be available later," R.J. said, "for now it's just the video." Brennan himself told GamePolitics about the political-cartoon purpose of the mod, and says he has a process for getting real people into Half-Life 2, provided he has enough photography as a source material. Newsmakers like those two definitely qualify. That combined with "access to MoCap data, and some good people helping out," resulted in the Half-Life 2 debate so far. I'm also a little weirded out that I recognize the music at the beginning. That's "The Everlasting Blink" by Bent, album of the same name. Why'd he pick that? Campaign 2008: Obama vs. McCain [John Brennan via Gamepolitics, with thanks to R.J. too.]