Campaign blunder or brilliance? The Biden Campaign and video games

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As Americans headed out to vote last week, they faced two primary options: the current President Donald Trump or the Democrat Nominee Joe Biden.  

For a long time in Western Democracies, the issue of getting young people to vote has been unsuccessful, with the USA having a youth turnout of 50 per cent in 2016 (18-29 year-olds).

So how have the Democrats tried to bolster youth voting numbers?

With Animal Crossing and Among Us, of course.

Yes, that is correct: Biden’s Campaign has chosen to target young people using two of the most popular video games this year. With Joe Biden having ‘his own island’ on Animal Crossing where a tour was held, showcasing voting booths and signs with the URL ‘IWillVote.com’ to promote voting. So far the video has been seen almost 50 thousand times on the YouTube Channel ‘Kinda Funny Games’

It is also important to note that Animal Crossing sold over 22 million units this year on the Nintendo Switch, therefore it has widespread appeal, not just in the US but globally as well.

Even more surprisingly was when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) announced on Twitter that she would be playing Among Us, with fellow congress member Ilhan Omar, as well as announcing that she would be livestreaming it to the popular streaming platform Twitch.

Here, she received 439,000 at her highest concurrent viewers (with the record on Twitch being 628,000). This is paired with approximately 5.2 million viewers over the course of the stream (as people tune in and out).

Now the question is, was this a strategy blunder or brilliance?

In the past, politicians have blundered when trying to appeal to the youth. In 2016, Hillary Clinton came up with the infamous line ‘Pokémon-Go-to the polls’ that was instantly turned into a meme, and made Hillary Clinton look hilariously out of touch. This was something Trump avoided entirely by not trying at all to appeal to the youth vote.

Now clearly AOC’s livestream was far more popular that Joe Biden’s video tour. This could possibly be due to a few factors. AOC chose to play Among Us with various popular Twitch streamers such as Pokimane, HasanAbi, and DisguisedToast, to name a few. This enabled additional exposure from high profile influencers who already appeal to young people.

Additionally, AOC herself is young and on stream acted very ‘natural’ and ‘normal’; as Guardian writer Joshua Rivera expertly pointed out, is something most politicians struggle with. 

Overall, it is fair to say this was not a political blunder, and it will be interesting to see if the Democrats’ strategy leads to a boost in youth voters in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Photo credit: Reuters