AOC and Pokimane's Twitch Stream Was A Smash Success
On Wednesday night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilahn Omar, Pokimane, and a handul of other prominant streamers and gamers hopped on Twitch to get out the vote on Among Us. The stream was a huge success, at one point drawing over 400,000 viewers, according to The Verge, and Twitter is still ablaze with short clips of their favorite moments and even an AOC/Among Us fancam.
With that being said, I’d like to take you back in time four years ago. In October 2016, a similarly era-defining election was approaching, and other than the pandemic-sized elephant in the room, there’s a lot of history already repeating itself when it comes to the media, including misinformation. But there’s one area where we seem to have evolved: gaming.
I am not an authority on gaming, but I do have a Hillary Clinton-inspired tattoo (let’s not talk about it), so safe to say I was aware of how people responded when the candidate joked at a Virginia campaign event that people should “Pokemon Go to the polls.”
Pokemon Go, an augmented reality mobile game that allows users to hunt for Pokemon in their own backyards and beyond, was the iPhone game de jour at the time. Clinton’s statement, of course, was widely mocked—the very YouTube video I embedded refers to it in the description as “cringey-ass.”
Four years later, the official Joe Biden campaign is on Animal Crossing and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is livestreaming on Twitch.
On Monday, after hearing so much about the recent popularity of 2018 game Among Us, AOC put out an open call for people to play with her on Twitch in hopes of getting out the vote ahead of the election. The game is basically a murder mystery with an “imposter” hiding among a group of users, killing them one by one until together they figure out who the murderer is and vote them out.
Anyone want to play Among Us with me on Twitch to get out the vote? (I’ve never played but it looks like a lot of fun)— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 19, 2020
AOC’s decision to partner with Pokimane likely wasn’t an accident. A number of popular gamers threw their hat into the ring, but the progressive Ocasio-Cortez went with the female gamer and streamer who is frequently harassed (notably by Keemstar, who also appeared in AOC’s Twitter replies to call her “sus”). But aside from the usual chiding they’re receiving from men for being two women who want to game, the announcement was met warmly.
This follows the recent unveiling of the Joe Biden campaign’s Animal Crossing island, which boasts recreations of Biden HQ and polling booths, and features an actual Joe Biden character strolling across the screen. You can interact with Biden and his island and get info about voting.
People weren’t wrong to mock Clinton’s “Pokemon Go to the polls” statement, but since then games have undeniably grown from a niche interest to legitimate platforms for political engagement—and just another thing I can procrastinate with instead of using this time inside to, say, read a damn book.