Choosing the Next President with Gamification

Choosing the Next President with Gamification


For better or worse we will be seeing gamification used by politicians during this election year and in the future.

The political arena comes with a natural level of competition just like any popular game. By deliberately offering politics ideals in the form of a fun engaging game, politicians can target gamers to support them in elections and causes.

In a Campaing & Elections’ article Jordan Raynor said, “67 percent of households are playing games.” That’s a large target market to advocate to.

Raynor, vice president of media and public affairs at Engage, added, “Why can’t we make political advocacy fun?”

Why can’t we indeed? Some basic low quality online games can already be found. “Are you a Republican?” a game by allows users to select pictures that appeal to them and then calculates their Republican score for the day.

Also think back to the 2004 Bush versus Kerry election when web users could play “Presidential Knockout“. The game allowed you to be either Kerry or Bush and then punch their political opponent out.

Now eight years later the public will likely see a higher quality of gamification being utilized. The more clever and intriguing the game the more likely the public is to use it.

We will see politicians trend towards gamification the way they did towards social media in the last few years. A politician will reach a bigger audience and gain more supporters by utilizing more technology. Gamification is already being used by politicians in creative ways. For instance, President Obama is currently using Foursquare to check-in to places he visits.

Perhaps this will be a pleasant alternative to the political Facebook page and all the political ads. Do you think politicians could ever use gamification well enough to swing your vote?


Image (c) League of Women Voters of California


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  1. I’m taking a course in Gamification and I always wondered how it could be used in Politics to influence policy or people thoughts on certain issues. Or Use it in a Campaign possibly to make voters want to get out to vote, give rewards to your volunteers for maybe making a certain number of phone calls in a phone bank, or knocking on said amount of doors.

     Something along those lines. But I also believe that if a candidate were to be (how do I say this) ‘Caught’ I suppose (for lack of a better word) for running his campaign with Gamification aspects could be accused making the issues a GAME!!?!? and could be called out by his opponent (and the media) and seriously hurt his chances at winning the election. So, Applying Gamification to a campaign could be risky but the first Politician to truly utilize its potential could really win in a landslide I believe. 

    I would love to hear some feedback on this if I could.

    • MTV has  developed a game geared toward youth to get them to vote. 

      George W. Bush’s finance and strategy guru Karl Rove pioneered fundraising tactics using a game system involving levels. It was called the Pioneer System which allowed donors to reach certain levels based on the amount of money they donated or raised for Bush’s candidacy. 
      Wealthy donors, competitive businessmen by nature were desperate to outdo each other and this lead to unprecedented amounts of giving for the pre-Citizens United era. 

      The game didn’t receive as much criticism as the contributors did, as it allowed Bush’s detractors to have a clear view of who was giving money to the campaign and Bush became fodder for partisan criticism (“Look at how much this oil company exec is giving to the Bushes, how can you expect Bush to set a sound environmental policy when Bush is in his pocket?”) 

      The format of a game is just an engagement tool. From what I’ve learned from observing and studying politics, just about any action can be flipped and twisted by partisans. What matters is how well it is executed. I think if a campaign can do it tastefully in view of the public, it could work and wouldn’t be a liability but rather an asset. I’m sure if you ask campaign managers some may tell you  they already use games to incentivize volunteer foot soldiers to knock on more doors.