Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Take Back Illinois - the game

Wondering whether George Bush has a chance in Illinois? (He doesn’t.) Wondering whether the latest twist in the Barack Obama / Alan Keyes race (Keyes’s 19 year-old daughter is gay) will change the outcome of the race? (It won’t.) Wondering whether the Illinois GOP is DOA?

Well, they’ve still got a heart-beat. Tom Cross and his team are doing a lot of experimenting lately, and their latest ad is for their latest shiny new toy. There were the TV webisodes that profiled different candidates. There were the audio blogs that replayed interviews with journalists, candidates, and party VIPs. The blog, of course, is almost old news at this point.

Now there’s the game: Take Back Illinois. Produced by the same company (Persuasive Games) that did the Dean for America game, it’s designed to teach you about a couple of Cross’s key issues while profiling the candidates they think will win on those issues.

The games are clever, though it took me a while to catch on to what exactly they wanted you to do. (Hint: read all of the directions, don’t just jump into the game and play.) The notion of using video games to present what are often complex subjects is coming into its own this election season; the New York Times even did a feature on the phenomenon.

The bottom line is that you can try and make people read lots of info, much of which can take multiple passes to sink in. Or you can make them experience it. Odds are that those who experience the issues, and see the various moving parts that influence those issues, are more likely to understand them.

Of course, Cross presents his issues in a way that lead one to conclude that their view of the world is right. The first game, focused on medical malpractice, would have you believe that caps on non-economic damages are the only way to solve the medmal crisis. It’s not that simple: California tried that route, and only saw insurance rates decline when insurance reform passed 12 years after the damage caps passed.

Be that as it may, this is clearly a medium whose use will increase. Kudos to Cross & co. for playing around, seeing what works. Stay tuned.

<insert standard warning to Illinois Democratic party here>
<listen as standard warning echoes back from Chicago and Springfield simultaneously>

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?

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