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The Webb Schools

Opinion: The evolution of campaigning — AOC’s gaming livestream

At 9 p.m. on October 20, Congresswoman Alexandrio Ocasio-Cortez livestreamed on Twitch, an online streaming site, to play a game of “Among Us”. This move defined a new means in which she was able to get the word out to vote. This unique demographic of gamers and youth are often overlooked, but she shows there are creative and effective alternatives to reach them outside of traditional campaigning. 

In the three and a half hours AOC streamed, viewer counts peaked at 435,000 and averaged around 325,000 concurrent viewers, according to The Verge. The congresswoman played with several big internet and Twitch creators from the gaming world like Pokimane, Jacksepticeye, Valkyrae, DrLupo, Disguised Toast and others that gamers may recognize.

Previously, a politician streaming an online video game would have sounded absurd and even laughable. There is a stigma that it is improper for a politician to play video games because the levity of a game does not match the weighted importance of lawmaking and government. Many people I know would be quick to label all video games childish, yet to me, AOC’s unexpected stream was something remarkable instead.

Yesterday night, as I watched the stream, not only did I get the message, “To Vote,” but I also came to understand AOC on a personal level. It sends the powerful and humbling message that the politicians we usually see in the most formal of settings — press debriefings, congress meetings, campaign trails — are still humans like us with similar pastimes and hobbies.

In AOC’s case, this humanizing element in which she can connect to viewers is playing video games. The impact of a  personal connection towards a political candidate could increase their likability as a leader, a representative and more.

As we look towards the future, I hope to see more of this kind of innovation to reach newer and less targeted demographics. The live streaming site had a surprising ability for political influence, it solely needed a political representative to utilize it.

AOC’s live stream of Among Us was an important moment to signify the breaking of traditional expectations and limitations within politics to pioneer different ways to campaign.