U.S. students make politics a fantasy game

The Reuters news story is available here.

Politics has become a game for a group of California college students who have launched an online video game, “Fantasy Congress,” in the lead-up to next month’s U.S. congressional elections.

The game, officially launched on Monday, is a new spin on the popular online fantasy sports games where players chose a team of real-life players and tally points based on their statistical performance.

In “Fantasy Congress,” found at www.fantasycongress.us/fc/, a player drafts a team of actual U.S. lawmakers and then competes against other teams.

Andrew Lee, a senior at Claremont McKenna College in the greater Los Angeles area and one of the game’s creators, said lawmakers were ranked based on the progress of their proposed legislation, picking up points on its journey to possibly getting passed into law.

Lee said he hoped the game would inspire people to pay as much attention to politics as they do to sports.

“If people cared about politics as much as they care about sports, we’d have a better democracy,” said Lee

And check out this cool detail!

The creators said they are funding the game with $5,000 in prize money from winning a school-sponsored Web-based entrepreneur of the year award and volunteer labor.

My first reaction was lol (for the uninitiated, that’s laugh out loud in text speech).

My second reaction was, that’s not exactly what most people fantasize about.

My third reaction was, hmm, could this go viral? Would it actually make people think more about politics? Margin of victories are often very small – could something like this going viral just before the election influence some results here and there, which of course can influence some things on the national level (as we know from all the talking heads right now)? Is someone watching what they do with this game and it’s code to make sure it’s non-partisan, and not manipulating the thinking of players in one direction or the other? That wouldn’t be hard to do in a good game. Could online games like this be the next wave of grass-roots and/or online political activity that surprises people in its impact? Might this help some people get engaged enough to actually vote?

Did you know that in the 2002 midterms, 65% of eligible US voters didn’t vote? For the presidential elections in 2004 we did better, only around 40% of us didn’t vote.

Seems to me the best jokes are deep, have layers, and have as much truth as humor in them.

At any rate, I’ll bet you a dollar that $5,000 entrepreneur of the year award turns out to be a very wise selection indeed.

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