Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, has added a taxpayer-funded game to his "Wastebook" – a list of government spending that he describes as being "egregious", according to USA Today.
A grant for Moroccan pottery classes and a robo-squirrel project funded by the National Science Foundation were on the list, as was the critcally acclaimed and finalist at this year's Independent Games Festival, Prom Week.
Prom Week received $516,000 through the Natonal Science Foundation to make social interactions playable by using an AI system that allows for rich, emergent storylines. The game explores emergent solutions to social challenges by using dialogue, characters with detailed histories, likes, dislikes, and permanent traits. It was developed by a team from the University of California Santa Cruz.
A video game called Walden, based on the works of Henry David Thoreau, was also on the list.
Senator Coburn said of the government spending on project likes Prom Week: "The problem in Washington is politicians are very specific about what we should fund but not specific about what we should cut," he said in a statement. "As a result, we are chasing robotic squirrels and countless other low-priority projects over a fiscal cliff."
The robo-squirrel project received $325,000 to study the relationship between squirrels and rattlesnakes.