Matt and I have been talking about online role playing games lately. He’s more than interested in the new challenges they pose to our legal system, the new media opportunities they offer, the ways they’re altering culture. We got into a conversation about how companies are taking advantage of them in marketing campaigns, so I asked him, “in what presidential election year will we see the first in-game campaigning?”
He seemed to think it might be as late as 2020 before that happened, but immediately embraced the concept. He offered the following idea: if a candidate had a child involved with video games, that child would be an outstanding asset in the marketing of that candidate to youth. How effective? With just one MMORPG claiming a million US players (each paying a monthly subscription fee, by the way), and many others in the market, one might imagine that in-game campaigning might someday have the same revolutionary effect as the internet did in 2004.
Politics, we understand, is more than message. After all, how else can we explain the way moderate young men were drawn to vote for the Governator in the California recall? Now, imagine if the Bush daughters were gamers…imagine a campaign that carefully handled that? How many otherwise moderate — perhaps progressive — gamers would be more than tempted to vote for the Bush guild?