Most "serious" games are, well, seriously dull -- high-minded, doubtless, but way too earnest, and often just bad games (since, you know, actual gameplay gets short shrift in favor of the message). And "The Redistricting Game" does not exactly get the pulse pounding as a name, no?
But surprise, it's actually engaging. It's a level-based game in which the challenges increase: at first, you're just redistricting for population equality, but then you try to gerrymander in favor of your party, and then you also have to deal with racial considerations (a constraint in federal law). You're facing a map of the state of Adams, with little blue dots representing Democratic voters, and little red ones Republicans, sliding district boundaries across the map.
Feedback is immediate and cute--congressional representatives are shown as faces on the map, with text showing the voter composition of their district--and when you screw a Republican congressmen by changing the partisan balance of his district (or vice versa, of course), he becomes visibly angry.
Beating a level means coming up with a redistricting plan that your legislature is willing to pass, your governor to sign, and the courts to sustain against the inevitable legal challenges.
There are only five levels, so the game isn't going to consume your life--but it's good enough you're actually likely to enjoy the time you spend with it. And yes, there's message enough--the wrapper around the game wants you to "take action" once you've absorbed your understandings of the evils of gerrymandering, but we slackers can ignore this crap, of course. And actually, the subtext may defeat the intent in some ways--if the politicos are having this much fun figuring out how to screw the voters, what's the likelihood that they'll ever vote for reform?