Role of Online Gaming in Political Campaigns: Politicians Using Innovation to Win Votes
The advancement in science and technology is also playing its role in the political arena as more and more politicians use technology to reach voters.
Online gaming, or what is also termed the virtual world, has gained the attention of politicians as they are using the games for their political campaign in an effort to traverse an uncharted frontier to reach voters, mostly youngsters who take an interest in such things.
The role of online gaming in political campaigns is still emerging. While it is still early to estimate its influence on politics, but one thing is for sure; the COVID-19 pandemic has provided this innovative practice with a boost that will help it to reach its full potential sooner than expected.
Use of Online Games for Political Gains: Rising Awareness in Untapped Waters
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses witnessed a downfall, but some saw a huge rise in their market share, and gaming was among the latter.
The gaming industry benefited during the pandemic because people were staying at home, and buying games was a no-brainer.
The presidential campaign was also going on during the pandemic, and advertising in video games came out as a good strategy for political runners.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was released in March of 2020, was one of the most popular games during the pandemic lockdown and had a Biden-themed island.
Democrats used this game to promote their political agenda. For example, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went on an election campaign with her virtual character in Animal Crossing, delivering political messages to the islanders.
This provided gamers with an opportunity to put up campaign posters of Joe Biden, thus becoming a part of the Biden campaign while also playing the game.
The fact that most of the gamer community is younger voters, who do not take that much interest in politics, makes the game market an excellent opportunity for politicians.
Many people think that it is wrong and unethical to communicate with voters through video games because it is something that people do for entertainment, and politicians are invading this personal space of the people.
However, many things are to be considered before reaching any conclusion on this subject.
Most of the gamers are young and are either eligible to vote or will be eligible in the coming years and need to be aware of the political space. Most youngsters do not know the basic things about politics, which will be one of the most important subjects in their life, as it is the political process through which they choose their leaders who make laws and policies for them.
Game advertisements create political awareness in the youngsters and urge them to use their right to vote and decide intelligently.
Social media is also one of the platforms that are popular among the young population, and political campaigns in video games are also no different from campaigning on social media as the prime function of both is to educate the youngsters to vote.
However, social media platforms have been witnessing political conflicts for the past few years, which are ever-growing and polluting the spaces, concerning many voters. There is also concern that political conflicts could also enter the gaming world with election campaigns in online games which are already competitive.
Social media and online gaming are two of the most used platforms by the young population, and if both of them are polluted with political conflicts, the younger generation may never get out of these ideological conflicts, and things could keep on getting worse.
The Advent of Politics in the Game Markets: Obama is the Founder
Barack Obama rightly deserves the title of an innovative politician as he was the one to introduce political advertising in video gaming. He was the first-ever US politician to use in-game advertising in video games in a US presidential campaign.
In the United States during the Black Lives Matter protests, online gaming became a political hotspot, with protests taking place in Animal Crossing: New Horizon. Similarly, the Hong Kong protests were also conducted on gaming platforms after restrictions were imposed by the government.
This drove Beijing to impose a targeted ban on video games that were providing protestors to gather and record their protest.
So, video games are not only a platform for political campaigns but have also provided people with the space to protest when they are not allowed to protest in the physical world.
The gaming landscape is still emerging in three tendencies. First, the politicians see this landscape as an opportunity to reach the young voters who are ever-growing in population.
Secondly, games have also become a threat to authoritarian regimes across the globe, threatening the apparent political stability and pushing digital dictators to restrict video game access and censor content.
Lastly, the game market looking to operate in the United States and other regions is now compelled to consider the political and economic consequences of their operations and content.
This advent has also urged the game companies to create a new corporation that is based on helping politicians in reaching a new audience.
For example, Avatar Dimension, a Washington-based video studio, focuses its technology on government and politics, generating hologram videos in 3D that could be inserted into video games and viewed through augmented reality glasses.
Millennials now constitute the largest population group in the United States and many other countries, and when combined with Gen Z, they outvote the boomers. Because of this, politicians now have to find out new, innovative ways to reach this group since most of them are not interested in political rallies and campaign events.
Video games are the best way to reach this group, and many political parties are trying this path.
However, there is a threat that gaming spaces may also become polluted with political conflicts, and therefore, serious thought should be given in this regard as the market is still emerging and has not reached its full potential.