First, I’m a gamer. I’m what real gamers consider casual. I own an Xbox 360, am wired up to the innerwebs, and play a handful of games on my PC (including an MMORPG). I’m also a bit “old school”… Back in the day, I stole quarters from a jar in my mother’s closet to go down to the arcade at Shakey’s Pizza in Grand Forks to play the likes of Defender, Pac Man and Donkey Kong Jr. I played text, turn-based games like Hitcherhiker’s Guide in junior high, owned an Atari 2600 and later moved onto MUDs over the free college internet hookup (none of that kid WORLD WIDE WEB crap… were talking the only graphics you saw were the ones you could build out of creatively stacked characters from a keyboard).
Second, I vote. Lot’s of reasons why, but deep down below the hard sarcastic, cynical layers of crust lays a soft, gooey center filled with tears over ol’ yeller, excitement when old Jack shows up in the Grizzly Adams reunion movie, belief that a man can fly and a strong sense of patriotic duty. While I tell people I joined the Army Reserves back in the day to help pay for college (when my mother told me she’d help me if I went for something dealing with computers, cuz they would be big some day and I told her no fricken way… I was gonna be a writer… ), it was more because I really felt I owed my country something. No way do I think I paid the same price the full-timers did/do nor those weekend-warriors who were called up for war, but I paid A price and feel like I have a further duty to voice my opinion on election day.
Why go through that? Because Xbox and Rock the Vote partner to get gamers to the polls.
These people think they understand who they are targeting and that they will be able to motivate them. Gamers can’t be pigeon holed into a specific type. They are fathers, mothers, students, soldiers, basement dwellers… and much more. They are also some of the best wired in people around. They understand information, sift through it, categorize, process and file away more than he average person out there. They know there is an election. I’m sure there is a huge percentage that is very politically charged and already planning on voting. There’s also a large number that could care less about the election. They will go wait 20 hours in November for a new gaming system, but why would they go to the community center, school, library to vote for someone who’s never done a dungeon crawl, defeated Tom Morello on expert, raced the streets of Liberty City or fought against the Covenant side by side with the Arbiter? Are you going to release Halo 4 on election day at the voting booth? They will not be motivated by public service announcements, ads or anything else… some will probably never vote until they can do it on their phone or in their console. The politicians don’t relate and can’t communicate ideas that really matter to them.
Again, this isn’t every gamer. But the ones already motivated, interested in politics don’t need the annoyance or condescension of the ads. Why waste the money? Is this really the segment of the population we are worried isn’t voting?