Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are Online Games the Next Political Frontier?

When I think of online gaming, I think of the millions of people whose life has been stolen by World of Warcraft. For me at least, I do not imagine this market as being particularly essential to the voting bloc as many enter an online world to escape the trials and tribulations of the real world. Being inundated back into politics seems like it would defeat the purpose. Many of these issues were addressed and discussed at this event.

Here are some game facts given that surprise many of me predispositions to video games as a political tool:
  • 69% of American heads of household play video games
  • The average gamer is 33 years old
  • Largest segment of online casual gamers are women over 40 according to AOL games
  • Advertisers know people are watching less TV, and spending more time playing games or on the Internet
So its older members of society playing games, including women, and advertisers are already targeting it....Interesting. Many of these gamers apparently are not kids who won't be voting even if they can be convinced of certain policy positions.

But what place is there for politics in video games? Surprisingly, even though they haven't penetrated World of War Craft yet, second life has proven to be viable political platform already. Second life is a 3-D online virtual world, rapidly growing with 4.6 million members already.

Second life is already being used as a tool to connect political action groups, but an impressive feat of theirs was a virtual march on a digital capital hill in the virtual world. This march was attended by 50,000 people in this "avatars against the war" campaign.

Is second life an anomaly, or the beginning of a movement to create a long lasting world wide virtual community? Will games continue to become more political, or is it an uncrackable medium? My opinions about the viability of the voting bloc apparently are dead wrong, and with the efforts already in action I am open to take a wait and see approach on whether or not there really is a future for politics in games.


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