Emily examines the impact of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s presence on Twitch.
Among Us has been the latest craze in party games, asking you to stealthily murder your comrades or scream your innocence the loudest if you fail. We’ve covered the games’ ridiculous success before. Despite that, I don’t think anyone could have predicted this; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez viciously stabbing Pokimane in the back, all the while encouraging her 435.000 Twitch viewers to vote in the US elections.
The stream was a natural extension of an existing hobby
Politics and Games
The thing is, AOC isn’t the first politician to try and capitalise on games being at the forefront of the cultural zeitgeist: Joe Biden launched his own Animal Crossing island in a bizarre PR stunt that was… well, cringey and underwhelming at best. Nintendo even changed their usage guidelines to stop politics intruding into its game again.
It was Hillary Clinton’s immortal ‘Pokémon Go to the Polls’ joke all over again: A half-hearted attempt to weasel some favour out of the gaming community.
AOC and Games
AOC’s approach feels way more authentic and connected to the gaming community. She’s been incredibly open about her gaming experiences, from appearing on HBomberguy’s legendary N64 Donkey Kong Stream for trans charity Mermaids to tweeting about achieving Silver III in League of Legends.
This, combined with her regular use of Instagram Lives, snapchat stories and twitter direct mentions to communicate with the public, meant a Twitch Stream didn’t feel out of character. The stream was a natural extension of an existing hobby, rather than the out-of-touch publicity stunts of her predecessors.
(It helps that AOC hopped on the Among Us bandwagon at the pinnacle of the trend, rather than seven months after Animal Crossing New Horizon’s peak of popularity.)
This stream shows the power of gaming as a political tool
So, picture the scene. On Monday the 19th of October, AOC tweeted ““Anyone want to play Among Us with me on Twitch to get out the vote?” and a slew of big streamers volunteered. She hosted the stream on Wednesday October 21st with huge streamers like Pokimane, Jackseptcieye, Gus Danger Johnson, Disguised Toast and Corpse_Husband, and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar. It was a star-studded line-up.
Combining all the streams, the session pulled in over 4.5 million views. Journalist Zach Montellaro wasted no time declaring it “the single-largest event to reach young voters” of this election cycle.
This stream shows the power of gaming as a political tool if used correctly by people who understand it. AOC is clearly ready to use this new weapon in her arsenal to encourage interest in politics at this crucial time. Successfully too, judging by her landslide re-election and Biden’s victory as President-elect.
Overall, it was a strangely positive experience. Neither is it a passing fad, as AOC recently returned to Twitch to celebrate her re-election. I’m glad that both she and Among Us are getting the recognition they deserve.
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