K-State student creates Brownback video game

Posted at 3:43 PM, Apr 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-11 09:04:12-04

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, the least popular sitting governor in the United States, has faced criticism from a variety of outlets lately, but none of it has been quite as creative as a simple video game created by Kansas State University student George Walker.

Thread Brownback's Cuts is built on the code skeleton of Flappy Bird, a 2013 smartphone game that quickly became infamous for its extreme difficulty and addictive gameplay. The reaction to the game was so vitriolic that Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen removed it from the app store in 2014. 


But where Flappy Bird's difficulty mostly inspired smashed smartphones and knockoffs like Splashy Fish, Thread Brownback's Cuts uses its difficulty to make its creator's political point: No matter how hard you try, it's impossible to escape the effect of Brownback's tax cuts on higher education funding.

READ: Kansas lawmaker, non-partisan group call Gov. Sam Brownback's tax plan 'catastrophic'

Here's how it works: Players select one of Kansas' institutes of higher education as their avatar, then attempt to dodge tax cuts represented by Brownback's smiling face. Like Flappy Bird, it's essentially impossible to keep dodging for more than a few seconds.

Our hard-earned high score? 12

"So many of these cuts directly affect students like me," said Walker, the 20-year-old computer science major who created the game. "Even looking at the most recent cuts, that's the kind of thing that inspired me to make the game."

Walker created Thread Brownback's Cuts shortly after the Kansas Board of Regents created Kansas Degree Stats, a website meant to help Kansas students calculate the cost of attending college.

Typically, when creating sites like this, government entities will buy all similar URLs and program them to redirect to the intended destination; for example, redirects to, the campaign's actual site. This prevents confusion and also keeps rival campaigns from using the domain for satirical or critical purposes.

The Board bought but didn't manage the similar, which now redirects — you guessed it — to Walker's game.

“Honestly, it’s just that so many of Brownback’s policies are the exact opposite of my ideas and thoughts,” Walker said.

Walker's high score is 36, but even the game's creator can't escape the Sisyphean purgatory of Flappy Brownback. Think you can do better? Give it a try.


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