The Election – Gamified

Published by Imani Benjamin on

The Election – Gamified

Being an informed voter is much more than knowing who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican. It’s much more than just doing a cursory internet search on the policies that your party and their chosen candidate has put forward. 

As voters, we tend to vote along party lines, which means voting consistently with the policy of our party rather than the candidates–or we don’t vote at all. On top of an already insane year, although anything election-related might be giving you hives, Avant-Youth presents a different point of view. The election – gamified. 

Most Helpful: Cast Your Vote

Cast Your Vote is a single-player voting simulator game that places you 22 days before a local election. 

The player has to make a choice on policies that’d be enacted, which ranges from minimum wage to creating more green space. Players use those 22 days to conduct searches, attend town halls and research the bills and laws that’ll be on the ballot come election day. 

The game is pretty fun–you’re being sent on a treasure hunt, and the prize is understanding the policies of a person you’re putting into office. 

So to be conscious, informed voters, we have to attend town hall meetings, question our candidate’s policies and goals at every [especially local] level and make sure that the person going into office can help the whole community. Otherwise, you may be voting to put someone in office who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. 

That also involves some research on who you’re voting for–both the candidate and the people that support them. You aren’t looking to see if the mayoral line-up has a misdemeanor or felony under its belt, but it’s important to know who supports the people running for office. 

As a voter, you need to know which organizations fund which candidates, who supports their campaigns and what they’ve done to help your local community. Once in office, the people backing them don’t just disappear. A candidate can bring in a team of sponsors or a host of corporations into office with them, unofficially determining what they do during their time in office. 

Long story short, Cast Your Vote can help you become a more informed voter. It’s a great game that can get you started on researching the people you’re putting into office. Whether that’s the president or the mayor, a voter should always be aware of who they’re putting in a position of power. You can get started with informative sites like Branch, dedicated to helping you learn about local candidates. 

Cast Your Vote | icivics.org

Most Fun: Win the White House

Win the White House is a presidential election simulator. It challenges the player to build a campaign while simulating what occurs during a campaign. Players build arguments around current issues, raise campaign funds, keep the momentum going and poll voters on issues important to them. 

You start off by creating your candidate: choosing a character, a home state and political party (WtWH only accounts for the Democrats and Republicans, there is no third-party option).

It really starts when the new ‘candidate’ creates a platform from a series of issues that each party champions. Whatever they choose–be it voting rights and pollution standards for Democrats or preventing election fraud and developing global independence for Republicans– the ‘candidate’ debates and solidifies their position before getting on the campaign trail. 

Although those 10 weeks are condensed into a few minutes, it’s still intense. The latter half of the game will probably be the most familiar to voters, because we’re experiencing it firsthand every year when a major election occurs. 

It involves candidates holding rallies in key states, holding campaign fundraisers in others, polling voters to determine what issues are important to them and putting out ads to discredit their opposition or promote their party. 

Win the White House | icivics.org

The game doesn’t go into too much detail about the voting that needs to happen for a candidate to be chosen but, winning and losing states directly affects your goal. To win the White House, in the game and real life, a candidate has to gain 270 electoral college votes. 

The Electoral College is an indirect method of voting for president. It has 538 members, one for each U.S. senator and representative (there are three that represent the District of Columbia). Each state has a certain number of electoral votes that equal the number of members of the congressional delegation. 

However, each state can select a presidential candidate any way they want. they select candidates to the tune of the popular vote, but that isn’t always the case. Win the White House doesn’t count your score according to the popular vote. 

Overall, Win the White House is a pretty fun game. It’s simplified, but it shows how much work and stress can go into a campaign, and it’s got A.I. that’ll make any player work to get that 270. But it also serves the purpose of showing how the electoral college works and the rationale behind candidates paying more attention to some states and neglecting others.

Most Interesting: Executive Command

Executive Command is a shift in focus for election games. It’s much less about winning an election and more about doing a good job in office. Executive Command puts the player in the shoes of a president trying to do his best. 

The game realistically throws the player into a presidency that gets really wild, really quick. But it also gives the players a pretty decent look at how bills and laws pass the president’s desk. It isn’t all rallies, presidential balls and galas. 

Executive Command walks you through just a few of the president’s duties, including vetoing laws, handling national and international crises and pushing policy forward on the home front. It’s a simplified version of four years in the White House. It doesn’t take into account the insider politics, the PACs, lobbying and interest groups that can make or break a bill before it gets to the president’s desk.  

Executive Command | icivics.org

But it does help one understand what goes on, at a basic level, when legislation passes from the president’s desk back to Congress or the departments who can, theoretically, make sure bills signed into law are properly enforced. 

A single presidential term may not be as exciting as the years you experience in Executive Command. As entertaining as it is, it’s also a nice representation of what a president might face during his term in office. 

It’s also a great excuse to get to know what bills are passing through Congress and the groups that might be standing in the way of them passing. While you may not be able to march to Washington to get rid of them, it helps to be aware of the boring side of politics that keeps the country running. Or decide if your congressman has been working to support you. 

While Executive Command isn’t exactly an election game, it is a point of reference for understanding how the highest office in the United States works to help and guide the American people. 

In Conclusion

Politics are complicated. Games, for the most part, aren’t. 

If not to run your own wild and wacky campaign, they’re a fun way to becoming an informed voter and active citizen. Not just for this electio,n but all that comes after.

Support local journalism. Support independent journalism. Support Avant-Youth.

Editor’s Note: Founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics is a non-profit organization aiming to offering free, quality instruction about how elections, government and politics work in America. 

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Imani Benjamin

Imani Benjamin

Imani Benjamin-Wharton is a graduate from Georgia State University with a degree in English. She’s an aspiring novelist hoping to write the next great American novel. In her free time, she learns the secrets of survival from her favorite horror movies.

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