By Daniel Casillas, MWN
Video games have become a new battleground in elections, as candidates have recently appeared in some of the most popular titles. Although it may seem odd, their strategy is working quite well due to the reach and market value of the industry.
According to data by the Entertainment Software Association, there are around 2.5 billion video game players around the world, while in the United States alone 60 percent of people daily engage with this part of the virtual world. In addition, the market analysis site Newzoo assures that the industry will reach an income of $159 billion in 2020, 9 percent more than the previous year.
“That is why video games are emerging as an important medium. Politicians in the past have used other forms of popular culture to find ways to relate to their constituents informally. Video games are no different from that, and in many ways are even better as an action-oriented medium,” Shira Chess, associate professor of entertainment and media studies at the University of Georgia, explained to Metro.
Currently what most attracts politicians when it comes to video games is that hundreds of players can receive their message at the same time.
“Once online gaming came to dominate, it assembled a very large group of generally hard to reach voters. So, gaming allowed politicians to ‘go’ where voters are. As long as increasing the turn-out of younger voters is a priority, politicians will continue to experiment with using online gaming to reach younger voters,” Bruce A Williams, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, said.
Despite the benefits, experts believe that the result did not seem effective during the November election, since candidates were just sending messages and not interacting with gamers.
“Politicians get the most value out of video games when they understand games are an interactive and cooperative medium, a place to meet voters, not simply advertise their image,” Laine Nooney, assistant professor of media industries at New York University, who specializes in video game and computer industries, commented.
Indeed, the world of video games is still quite new for politicians, however, the trend is expected to develop in the future.
“It is a sizable and difficult to reach segment of voters. So politicians will try to engage with them. Even if many candidates are older and gaming is seen as a vaguely trivial and unserious pursuit, staff and campaign advisors are much younger and many grew up gaming,” Williams concluded.
Here are some ways politicians have engaged with video games:
Biden and Harris in Animal Crossing
Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris appeared in the Nintendo Animal Crossing game in the form of avatars. The campaign also allowed players to decorate their homes on the island with official Democratic posters.
Trump on Twitch
President Donald Trump tried to connect with gamers by opening his channel on the popular video game streaming platform. However, the 74-years-old did not appear playing a single time, but posted videos of his rallies.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing Among Us
Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, showed how she was playing Among Us. More than 400k people watched her live on Twitch.