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Examining the Role of Video Games In the US Election 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the moose-hunter-3d dept.
Gamasutra is running an article discussing the influence of games and gamers on the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. The connection, while minor, is continuing to strengthen, from allowing people to register to vote through their consoles, to in-game advertising, to games about and involving the candidates. However, it may still be an uphill climb as media-sharing becomes easier. From Gamasutra: "There are reasons games have grown slowly compared to other technologies for political outreach. The most important one is also the most obvious: since 2004, online video and social networks have become the big thing, as blogs were four years ago. Instead of urging voters to 'play my game,' as Loftus and I surmised, candidates urged their constituents to 'watch my video.' Online video became the political totem of 2008, from James Kotecki's dorm room interviews to CNN's YouTube debates."
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Examining the Role of Video Games In the US Election

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  • Oh no, not again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:20AM (#25581455)

    Why oh why must the online media trot out these "gamers change the world" stories. Gamers are not special. The games they play are not special. Some gamers are geeky recluses, but they would still be geeky recluses without their games. Some gamers are not geeky. The games don't have any magic special effect on people, and gamers certainly don't have any effect on society as a whole. This stuff is all just hype.

    When you play a game, you play a game. THAT'S ALL. You don't suddenly develop special "cultural zeitgeist" powers. You remain what you always were: an insignificant converter of oxygen and food into energy and poo poo. Gaming does not rock society. Society plods along, wars still happen, booms and busts, new bosses that are the same as the old boss, never ending one-hit-wonder girl bands etc etc

    Just because we can game on the internet nowardays doesnt mean gamers are plugged into national or international current affairs and just because you can save your game doesn't mean any gamer ever made history. Gamers, get your right hands out of your pants, and get over yourselves. If you cannot enjoy your "duke blastem" or whatever without contriving megalomaniac/oninistic fantasies and spilling them all over the web, perhaps you should try another hobby. How about doing some charity work - that might help you regain some persepctive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by genner (694963)

      Why oh why must the online media trot out these "gamers change the world" stories. Gamers are not special.

      My mom says I'm special.....*sniff*

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Wow, you seem really, really disturbed over this. Have you ever considered that maybe your attitude is the problem, not theirs?

    • by ztcamper (1051960)
      Are you going to support your argument? Do you have any credentials? Does "doing some charity work - that might help you regain some persepctive" make you more special? It's an obvious move. Like in business they are trying to tap all possible markets. Why are you so upset about it? Are you an optimist?
    • I agree that it is often overstated, but the answer they're looking for right now is much simpler:

      Games may affect the election when people play them and forget to vote until the polls close. No need to freak out about overstating the impact of games, some are just very addictive, and you look up and "oh crap, it's 4AM, I forgot to go into work... or vote... or eat."

    • Gamers as some sort of social group may not be particularly special, but the use of game-like setups for rhetorical purposes has been greatly underexplored. Like most media, it will probably eventually differentiate into different areas, like how you can currently watch films designed for entertainment, films designed to inform, films designed to persuade, and many other kinds of films.

      In fact, the author of this article has a book-length treatment of the subject (Persuasive Games, MIT Press, 2007).

    • Your perspective is skewed. It would actually be more accurate to say everyone else's perspective is skewed, but perspective is one of those weird things that's defined by mass perception (since it reflects public opinion).

      You know this. I know this. It still needs saying, because there are a lot of people out there who hold outdated stereotypes. You know the ones, too -- all gamers are 13-year old boys -- and once upon a time (say 10, 15 years ago) they were more true than not. Problem is, too many n
    • by Quothz (683368)

      gamers certainly don't have any effect on society as a whole.

      Your point is well-made, although y'might put a moment's thought into cutting down on the caffeine.

      Still, I think you're at least somewhat overstating it. While gamers aren't a driving cultural movement with far-reaching, powerful influence - in the manner of, say, the strong churches or the hippy movement - the subculture has had indisputable effects on society.

      For example, a great deal of home computing technology advances are driven by the gaming market. The gaming market -itself- is a phenomenon whi

      • while I agree that gamers as a subculture are far from a coherent political force, to say they have no societal impact is naive.

        Agree in part. In one game alone (World of Warcraft) there is a community of 10 million people with something in common to talk about. Now 10 million is a very small fraction of 6 billion, but still it's an example of large numbers of people talking to each other, forming groups -- not just the "duo" up to "raid" parties, but the various chat channels. I'm an Australian, and I found myself having a good long conversation with someone in Florida with whom I share a common medical affliction, but who is dia

  • by Jainith (153344) on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:21AM (#25581459) Homepage Journal

    Awesome turn based strategy game, it used to let you pick any of the Candidates running in either primary, I dont know when they changed it, or what else they changed.

    http://www.kongregate.com/games/thup/campaign-game [kongregate.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MindKata (957167)
      If they change the name from Candidates to End Of Level Boss, then more console users are likely to vote in an election, to get their favourite End Of Level Boss.
    • by tuxgeek (872962)

      There is potential to this game concept. But it needs to be extended to allow the player to win an election and rule as president.

      The objective could be to see how quickly you, as president, can destroy civilization.

  • by Sibko (1036168) on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:31AM (#25581503)
    http://kotaku.com/5071682/sarah-palin-to-shoot-moose-obama-in-mercs-2 [kotaku.com]

    Pretty clever advertising, I must admit.
  • Why games? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtense (1075847) <.xtense. .at. .o2.pl.> on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:43AM (#25581551) Homepage

    Doesn't seem to me like games are a good medium to spread your political messages - after all, games are... well, games. You play them to have fun, not to be fed loads of political horsecrap. Those so inclined may as well analyze, event after event, the ideological backgrounds of each turn taken by the game's story, but seriously, that's not where the "entertainment" bit is at. And gamers are there for entertainment.

    Looks to me like a non-story.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stinerman (812158)

      Meh.

      Too many people these days demand to be entertained while they get their news or political spin of the day. I see a market for this, but I don't know how large of one.

    • Re:Why games? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by utnapistim (931738) <dan.barbusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:55AM (#25581649) Homepage

      You play them to have fun, not to be fed loads of political horsecrap.

      ... which is why this is efficient.

      The problem you have here is that while games are indeed entertainment, while a player is focused on the game play, the messages (billboards or whatever else) go easier into the subconscious.

      This is much more efficient than making the image the focus of the player's attention, as it doesn't engage the player's prejudices/opinions/critical thinking and goes directly into the subconscious. It is the same principle of subliminal suggestions and some hypnosis therapy techniques (using multiple voices speaking over each other, with the actual message not being the loudest of the voices).

      That said, I'm not sure how many of the electorate are gamers or how many need that message: if the candidate advertising himself is technology-savvy he probably already has more appeal to gamers (they being closer to technology anyway) so in a way it sounds like preaching to the choir.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        As someone who plays games to escape all the BS on TV and radio, political ads would not slip more easily into my subconscious. In fact, political ads, or any kind of ads in my games would elicit a "WTF is this shit doing in my game" response, and probably cause me to choose another game. When I watch TV, I expect ads and readily ignore them. When I play a game, I pay attention to the game environment, and any sort of ad would break the illusion.

        BTW, there is no real evidence that subliminal [skepdic.com] messages hav

    • Exactly.

      "There are reasons games have grown slowly compared to other technologies for political outreach. The most important one is also the most obvious: since 2004, online video and social networks have become the big thing, as blogs were four years ago.

      Whoever wrote that must seriously have no life, if they really think that everything in the world has to somehow revolve around their little election.

    • Actually, the degree to which a spectator can resist the ideological forces of the text is one of the most studied, and controversial, areas of spectatorship studies. You seem to indicate that gamers can simply "be there for entertainment" but there are quite a few people that disagree. Try reading about Interpellation and Louis Althusser.

      As a side note, I'm aware that the interactivity inherent in all games challenges the notion of the passive spectator of apparatus theory...I just wanted to say that t
    • Doesn't seem to me like games are a good medium to spread your political messages - after all, games are... well, games.

      Depends on the game. The best modern one I saw was one where you got to play the US military. You had a little animated city street full of civilians and a few terrorists -- civilians wore white turbans, the terrorists wore black ones. You had a missile with a large splash radius to kill the terrorists with. If you hit a terrorist, he died. If you hit a civilian, they died, too. If the civilian was only wounded, he turned into a terrorist. After a few minutes of play the entire street was swarming with terr

    • You could rewrite your post to say "films" or "video" also. People go to YouTube to be entertained by silly videos about cats, not to be fed loads of political horsecrap. People see films to be entertained by Hollywood special effects and love stories, not to get some sort of political message. Oh except those aren't true. People do go to YouTube to be entertained mostly, but that doesn't mean they (or other people) can't also go to YouTube to watch political videos. That a medium s primarily used for enter

  • Doom.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by onion2k (203094) * on Friday October 31, 2008 @07:51AM (#25581605) Homepage

    I'm voting for a Cyberdemon to be president!

    This joke fails on so many levels. Firstly, I'm English so I can't vote. Secondly, there aren't any cyberdemons standing. Thirdly, even if a cyberdemon were to stand they'd probably be an independent standing for a niche Military/Satanic party so it'd be a bit of a waste. I can't imagine cyberdemons are very interested in environmental or economic policy. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, cyberdemons aren't real so you can't vote for them anyway. Mind you, nor is Sarah Palin. I don't know who thought her up but that joke has gone way too far already...

    • Re:Doom.. (Score:4, Funny)

      by somersault (912633) on Friday October 31, 2008 @08:28AM (#25581807) Homepage Journal

      cyberdemons aren't real so you can't vote for them anyway

      I beg to differ. Clippy is real. I have seen him with my own eyes. I enlisted the help of a monastery of technopriests to smite him into the fiery pits of disabled preferences.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I disagree. I think cyberdemons would be very interested in environmental and economic policies. It might be the exact wrong kind of interest, but then, how could we tell the difference between them and the current government when it comes to that?

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday October 31, 2008 @08:14AM (#25581749) Homepage

    Politics be damned, just vote for the coolest dude and get him representin' the people.

  • >>>James Kotecki's dorm room

    It's good to see teens and college-aged persons getting involved, but the facts remain, they are the smallest group in terms of voting. They are too easily distracted by other things (homework, classes, parties), and often skip going to the booth on Election Day.

    "I'll give you free beer if you don't vote."

    "Dude I am so there!!! I can vote when I'm old; where's the keg?"

  • ...then they'll matter. That and I'll stop playing video games. I mean can you imagine a video game based on the US election? You can play Palin with her bimbo stupidity blast....or Macaine who's old age ray bores the enemy to death....or you can play token black man Obama who confuses his enemy by sounding like Osama. Yeah that's a game I'd play...after a lobotomy.

    • I can see it now: "The Secret Black Negro Muslim Socialist Brigade from Planet Marx vs. The Moose-Shooting Rogue Hottie and the Grizzled War Hero in: DEBATE DEATHMATCH!"

      "What we need... is change!"

      "You're a terrorist!"

      "What?"

      "Don't make me pull out my Moosekiller 2012 BFG!"

      "No, what I'm trying to say is..."

      "Maverick!"

      Obama reels from the blow

      "If that's not Marxism, then I'm not a soccerbull pitmom!"

      Obama staggers, his shields are failing

      "Hockey!!"

      he drops to his knees, his HUD awash in alarms

      "And now I'd li

      • by Kingrames (858416)
        You seem to have forgotten that Sarah Palin has "gone rogue." that translates into teamkilling.
        • Aah, but that's her devilish plan! First you beat the opponent, then you get the office, *then* you TK, then you're the president!

          And then, of course, you get the women...

          (and curse you for thinking of that. it's so blindingly obvious I'm embarrassed to have missed it. tip of the hat.)

          • by syousef (465911)

            Thank you. At least 3 people didn't decide my little joke was a troll. It's not like I picked on just one political party. I'm not even American.

  • by jav1231 (539129) on Friday October 31, 2008 @08:40AM (#25581907)
    The thought of people registering to vote through an XBox is frightening.

    But the thought that most such voters will be too caught up in GTA to actually leave the house makes me feel much better!
    • by Robyrt (1305217)

      The thought of people registering to vote through an XBox is frightening. But the thought that most such voters will be too caught up in GTA to actually leave the house makes me feel much better!

      Why is it frightening? It would definitely be more convenient than the rigmarole I had to go through, involving snail mailing multiple forms in order. A system message reminding me to register, or even one on Nov. 4 to go vote, would be wonderful in terms of increasing turnout among the younger demographic. I don't see that there's any reason to suppose that hardcore gamers are less informed or trustworthy than the general populace. On the contrary, the more gaming websites you check, the more likely you a

    • by Swanktastic (109747) on Friday October 31, 2008 @09:20AM (#25582177)

      The thought of people registering to vote through an XBox is frightening.

      1. Please enter your Full Name and Address below.
      2. What is your political affiliation? (Please Check Only One)
      - Enjoy Screaming Racial/Homosexual Epithets (Republican)
      - Teabagger (Democrat)
      - Spawn Camper (Libertarian)

    • by geobeck (924637)

      But the thought that most such voters will be too caught up in GTA to actually leave the house makes me feel much better!

      They'll be so caught up in GTA that they won't notice the third instalment of GTE.

  • Whoever can get me one of those Crysis nano-suits first wins my vote!
  • A really interesting game, where you get to fight for your side no matter what it is, and get to win the election not by having the better message but by rigging the game is this:

    http://www.redistrictinggame.com/ [redistrictinggame.com]

    You have a 2d grid of squares; for each square, you have a population count and a distribution between blue, red and white. You have to form n connected components (n is given, typically 4), with roughly equal population counts, such that:

    - in level 1, true
    - in level 2, your guy wins (you pick eith

  • Tron Paul (Score:2, Funny)

    by DanTheStone (1212500)
    Just wait for next election's ramp up, when the Tron Paul video game is released. Then we'll all find out whether these people were right. http://www.xkcd.com/497/ [xkcd.com]
  • Except for gamers it doesnt affect anyone, save their immediate families.
  • There was a great game for the Commodore 64 about running a presidential election.

    It was pretty simple, but it involved putting money in various states and campaigning and stuff.

    Anything remotely like that available nowadays? Or should I just go back to yelling at kids that are on my front lawn?

  • This may be pants, but here is an amusing look at the US voter preferences inside World of Warcraft

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5Kg-K7em20 [youtube.com]

    It was produced by Sandeep Parikh, who plays Zaboo on the YouTube hit The Guild, and has his own game-inspired web video comedy, The Legend of Neil.

  • I was sure this was going to examine voter participation among gamers given the proximity of the release of WotLK to the US elections in November...

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