Politics is Now Literally a Game with MTV’s “Fantasy Election ’12″


Would you play?

From #Waywire to Twindex, encouraging young people to engage in politics via social media seems to be the hot new thing for startups and major media companies alike. Without a doubt, it’s a big market: 45 million 18-29 year olds will be eligible to vote this November — the largest voting bloc in the country ! The latest venture, spearheaded by media giant MTV, is “Fantasy Election 12”– an online game modeled on fantasy sports that will reward players for participating in the upcoming election.

The best way to participate is to actually vote, right? Jason Rzepka, MTV’s Vice President in Public affairs says:

There’s a lot of young people who are at the beginning of their civic career. When you’re 18 and you’re voting for the first time, you don’t necessarily know what you deserve from a politician.  [Fantasy Election] can be can be a crash course in what people should demand from those pursuing the privilege of elected office.

In the game, users win prizes for predicting which politicians will be most popular in the polls, most honest with constituents, most engaging in social media, and most likely to communicate substance over style. The idea, as Jason Rzepka suggests is to inspire young people to expect the best from the public servants they elect to serve them. The result will be to instill a better understanding of key issues thereby simply making this election matter more for young people.

Let’s not forget, the game is also meant to be fun ! “The election can be so serious and intimidating,” explains Rzepka, “but ‘Fantasy Election ‘12’ lets people laugh about it and makes it more inviting to serve every point.”

How exactly does it work?

Like any other fantasy game, “Fantasy Election” requires you to pick a virtual team — a lineup of the best politicians around (candidates running for the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives) — to compete with other players. As well as getting points for choosing the most popular politicans in the polls, MTV will also be scoring based on transparency in fundraising, frequency of social media engagement, discussion of substantive issues and an explicit declaration of values (something Mitt Romney has been in trouble for not doing regarding tax reform.)

MTV is also harnessing the power of other platforms to reach more people and offer more outlets for rewards. Through location-based apps like  Foursquare and GetGlue, users gain bonuses by “checking in” to town hall events, political debates and, of course, the ballot box on Election Day. Integrating with other social media platforms is key to capturing the attention of an audience that has a presence on every corner of the internet !

With 45 million votes at stake, MTV’s “Power of ‘12” get-out-the-vote campaign is hoping that “Fantasy Election ‘12” will unleash the latent power of this age group by hijacking the culture of gaming. Not a bad idea since Millennials seem to view life as a game. Hats off to MTV for listening to its audience, understanding their changing needs and then creating a killer platform that aims to do so many things.

“Fantasy Election ‘12” launches on August 27th.

About Sona Makker

Sona is a first-year law student studying technology law at Santa Clara University. She’s an advocate for online privacy, digital rights, and public access to the public domain. If she’s not arguing with her siblings over whether This American Life is better than Radiolab, you’ll probably find her whipping up vegetarian dishes, or attempting to do a headstand in yoga class.
Posted in: Election, Politics, Social Media
  • http://www.fanitics.com Andrew

    I am looking forward to playing MTVs game. Of course, if you are not a member of Gen Y and MTVs target market, I recommend Fanitics: Fantasy Politics. We’re a Facebook app so you can easily play in a league with your friends and play all national candidates, including House and even governors.


    Hope to see you all at the conventions.