GCN LAB IMPRESSIONS
Can game technology rock the vote?
Hey, Xbox users! Put down the Mass Effect 3 for a minute and play a game that the whole country can play – the 2012 presidential election!
It seems that the idea of applying game technology to government, which several agencies have pursued, is spreading into the political realm.
Microsoft announced that it will be launching “Election 2012 on Xbox LIVE.” The company calls it a unique opportunity for Xbox 360 users to watch and interact with live election coverage. There will be opportunities to learn about the candidates’ positions and records, and even take part in daily poll gathering. The company's press release has more details.
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Users will also get live coverage and opportunities to give input during both national conventions as well as the three scheduled presidential debates. If we wanted, we could use our Xboxes as a constant source of election activity, which of course is what Microsoft is hoping will happen.
Personally, I think any attempt to get the general population more involved in the political process is potentially a good thing. So is trying to give voters as much information as they can absorb so they are more likely to make educated choices at the voting booths.
However, I don’t think that this will be as successful as Microsoft is expecting. First, a large percentage of Xbox LIVE users are under voting age. While it is a noble effort to get young people interested in politics, most of them aren’t going to want to look at election coverage while there are Reaper troops left to blast. Secondly, anyone who uses the Xbox and is otherwise interested in election coverage is already getting it from another source, and therefore must like the way that source does things. The Xbox LIVE offering will probably not be an exact match, so there are not likely to be many converts.
Lastly, people tend to use video games to escape the troubles of the world they have to deal with at other times. The last thing most people want on their game console is a reminder of what they are trying to tear themselves away from for a while.
But, hey, I do wish them well. If a couple more people know a little bit more about the election when they go to vote because of something they saw on their Xbox, I say, good job.
The next thing that they need to work on is an election simulation, kind of like a Madden Football for politics. I bet a bunch of people would play that. I know I would.
Greg Crowe is a staff writer covering mobile technology for GCN. Follow him on Twitter: @GCNLabGuys.