Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are Online Games the New Town Hall? The Rise of the Gamer Class in Politics

Online Gaming and Politics.

The Discussion immediately started off with a few statistics, to dispel the myth that video games are only for teens and kids.

69% of American heads of Household play video games
Avg gamer is a 33 year old male
Largest selection of online casual gamers are women over 40.
These stats are from the Entertainment Software Review Board

Something important to note is that you cant just jump into the game industry, because games are not a traditional forum. They are a complex way of entertainment that if used correctly and with enough time spent, you can create an innovative and interesting new way to promote a campaign or a business. You will need to create something interactive unlike a television advertisement. You need to let a person explore and interact at their own pace.

A surprisingly amusing game is shown where you play as a TSA airport security agent where you have to follow rules that change every three seconds and complete your task quickly by removing banned objects or you lose. This is an example of a casual game with an underlying political message.

You can find a blog on more serious and casual games at Watercoolergames.com.

The speaker from Brand Games discussed how this campaign is expected to be the most expensive campaign in terms of media spending.

A new style of marketing is to allow the consumers to shape the brand and have the brand adapt to the consumer. Its kind of a Web 2.0 approach to promoting a brand in the real world. brandgaming.com is the web site of one of the earliest corporations to create an "advergame", or a game designed to promote a company. This concept could easily be expanded to promote various ideas, political positions and even campaigns.

One of the major possibilities of political games is that they can promote he education of young people to raise them to vote. Through the use of the internet and through simpler flash games can promote ideas to a wide range of children to let them learn about the issues and make them care, so they keep these issues in mind until they are old enough to actually vote.

Finally, the most well known project is brought up. Second Life is discussed. Andrew Hoppin (Drew Frobozz in Second Life). Second Life isnt so much a game as it is a 3-D world with User driven client. There are roughly 4.6 million Avatars. An Avatar is the virtual representation of a person. 1.6 million real dollars is transacted daily. There are roughly 30,000 people on the servers at any given time. Hoppin previously worked for NASA, and later helped NASA build things in Second Life.

Some things that happened in Second Life
Gov. Warner held a press conference in game
RootsCamp political discussion occurred in game
John Edwards put up a Campaign headquarters
Barak Obama did the same, however his headquarters is unofficial.

Essentially this translates to Second Life being a great buzz generator, as it's a unique way of presenting yourself, so you can actually garner media coverage through doing something through Second Life. Also, its good as a Community Platform and Social Networking.

So there are a number of different options for using games, whether you decide to take a serious route, a casual route or the Second Life route is up to you, but one thing seems to be clear, Games are not going away, and as the industry grows, it will be important to be creative and try to utilize this market to the fullest advantage, and it will always help to get your name out there.

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