“Videogames, especially onlineThey have become a more important element in our lives, a space where we can develop new forms of propaganda ”, reasons Paolo Gerbaudo, sociologist and director of the Center for Digital Culture at King’s College London.
It is not innovative that a video game serves as a political tool, although what Biden and Harris have put on the table upsets the examples known so far.
Going directly to a mass title did not appear in the alphabet of electoral mobilization. The bet in other countries has been to give another approach to more than known games.
This was the case of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, candidate for the French presidency for the La France Insumise movement, who created Fiscal Kombat , a video game inspired by Mortal Kombat where he was seen shaking up businessmen who did not pay their taxes.
If you look at the United States, the 2004 Democratic primary candidate Howard Dean bet on what he called The Howard Dean for Iowa , a game in which he invited his followers to understand how to participate in his election campaign .
A kind of virtual training with which to increase your base of support. Most recently, in 2016, Hillary Clinton asked Pokemon Go users to go to the polls while hunting a pokemon on the streets.
“All the ways of connecting with society around elements that are part of their daily happiness is interesting. It shows that politicians listen to the people, ”says Papacharissi.
It would be naive to reduce the incursion of the Democratic ticket in Animal Crossing to the new policy . Like any type of propaganda, mobilization and reaching the last voter is at the origin of the initiative.
A candidate like Biden, 77, does not arouse excessive empathy among the youngest. Here it gains value to appear before them through a game.
A playful space in which to transcend beyond the typical campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram . “The language of videogames allows politicians to access young people through their everyday language. Furthermore, it adds an element of entertainment in a context where many perceive politics as boring, ”Gerbaudo says.
One barrier broken down by these virtual posters is that of associating video games with violence . In the United States it has been a common comparison in political rhetoric.
High school shooters, for example, were often linked to the number of hours played on certainly violent titles like Grand Theft Auto . Little more than everything that happened had depended on him being a gamer .
In the words of Papacharissi, this initiative will not change that discourse too much because Biden and Harris only seek to connect with certain groups that propel them towards the White House.
Until November it will be impossible to measure the success of appearing on Nintendo screens. We will have to wait for a new electoral process to know if video games have become a new political battlefield. For the moment, they have only entered uncharted territory for machinery as refined as that of presidential campaigns.
But it is proven that the digital world can make the difference between winning or losing. Right-wing populism, like Trump, has understood the relevance of digital propaganda. It was essential in 2016 to generate sympathy and votes in the subcultural sectors of the digital world, ”concludes Gerbaudo.