We’ve come a long way from, “Pokemon Go to the polls.”
On October 19, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted, asking people to join her for a game of Among Us to help encourage voter turnout.
The following day, HasanAbi, Pokimane, many other streamers, and even Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) hopped on Twitch to make her idea a reality. As Ocasio-Cortez started her stream, placing her video feed in the center of the bottom of her screen, the world watched as congressional representatives teamed up with popular Twitch streamers to get out one message and one message only: Vote.
“Make your plan to vote! We can overwhelm the polls and we can get things back on track!” said the New York representative during the three-and-a-half-hour stream. “Make your voting plan. If you can’t vote, find someone who hasn’t made their voting plan and encourage them to do so!”
Among Us is not only an effective tool for engagement because of its recent rise in popularity, it is also a game involving the explicit action of voting, providing another layer to this voter engagement attempt.
It seemed to work.
The stream itself was featured on multiple Twitch channels, with many hosting the streams other than those actively participating in the game, and had a peak viewership of over 433k on Ocasio-Cortez’s personal Twitch channel. Her channel, simply titled, “AOC,” boasts over 500K followers at the time of this article, an impressive feat given that it was created the day she tweeted.
This event comes months after Ocasio-Cortez criticized the military’s use of Twitch for recruitment practices. Now, she is using the same platform to relay her message to viewers and supporters.
“It’s so important that every one of us turns out to vote,” reiterated Ocasio-Cortez. “Let’s go save our democracy!”
Ocasio-Cortez, being one of the younger members of the House of Representatives, is already able to relate easier to younger generations. Whereas people may be turned off from older politicians attempting to connect with them through artificial means, Ocasio-Cortez is able to more easily make those connections. As such, transitioning into the role of a streamer for the purpose of voter engagement didn’t seem like a ploy. In fact, to many who viewed the stream it seemed like the exact opposite; it felt like a real stream.
Ocasio-Cortez actively played the game, truly participating, whether it was during voting deliberations, or completing tasks as a crewmate, or getting a double kill during her first game of the night, resulting in someone exclaiming that the imposter couldn’t be AOC, it was “clearly someone who had played the game before.” The game was also played with the “Confirm Ejects” option off, which prevented players from knowing if the person they voted out and ejected each round was an imposter or not.
There was chat, humor, presence, and an engaging game that kept consistent viewership, just like one would expect from a normal Twitch stream.
As the game reached its end, after saying her goodbyes, Ocasio-Cortez spent the final moments of her broadcast once again reminding people to vote, and endorsing the Democractic ticket, Biden/Harris, for the White House.