For a long time, video games were regarded as at-home time killers and a favorite activity of the lonely shut-ins of the world. However, as the gaming market evolved, a whole variety of new people started using these games too – such as tired office workers, young adults looking to zone out and now, politicians.
With the new reach and ubiquitous availability of video games, politicians were bound to notice that video games draw attention. First, there was the rise of Among Us, a PC and Mobile Werewolf social deduction game. In it, a group of crew-mates have to complete tasks on a spaceship to take off while an impostor tries to kill crew-mates. The game is won when the impostors match the number of crew-mates or when Crew-mates remove the impostors. They can also win by getting tasks done. U.S. congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar played the game on Twitch to a surprising metric of 439,000 viewers in real time and 5.2 million viewers among the many different media forms it took. The real time view count is a little over 25 times the number of concurrent viewers of any typical Biden or Trump stream, that had a measly 17,000 viewers on the high end.
With this type of viewership, it was only a matter of time before a political candidate used video games to spread their messages to garner support. For example, President-Elect Biden used the happy village-building world of Animal Crossing New Horizons. He made sure to build a cute little town where signs and mock offices could be used to influence voter decision making and educate those same people about his campaign values.
And you know what? Biden won the Presidency. Maybe future politicians will wise up and use more video games to spread their message to influence voters in the future.
If anything, this should be a lesson to politicians or politician-adjacent students that appealing to younger and more casual audiences through video games could lead to broader information dissemination and ultimately more support. You can visit Biden’s island in Animal Crossing by going to sleep and typing the dream code DA-7286-5710-7478. I highly recommend a fun brawler by the name of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate as well.
Happy playing, Samuel Gross.