In one of the more fascinating moments in gaming, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., were trying to find murderous imposters on a spaceship. They weren’t alone. The two congresswomen were joined by popular streamers such as Imane “Pokimane” Anys, Ben “DrLupo” Lupo and Hasan “Hasanabi” Piker as they all played hit social deduction game “Among Us” on Twitch. For the uninitiated, think of it as a murder-mystery dinner party played on computers and without four-course meal.
The experience was surreal to say the least as the lawmakers took to Twitch in order to encourage people to vote in the Nov. 3 election. At the same time, it felt like a seminal moment for a generation of gamers who have seen their favorite pastime go through the political gantlet. A medium that was once blamed for harming children by exposing them to violence was now being used as a platform to connect with potential voters.
It’s a total 180 for gaming as the onetime political scapegoat has turned into a bleeding-edge tool to reach voters. It was also just cool seeing important people — the folks who vote on laws and determine national policy — act having fun, laughing and enjoying themselves with their generational peers. Ocasio-Cortez is 31 years old and Omar is 38.
There are thousands of gamers just like them on Twitch, and it must have been a thrill for the audience in chat, seeing their hobbies reflected by those who hold power.
The moment definitely wasn’t lost on Twitter as viewers began commenting on stream.
When we think of politicians, a certain image comes to mind. It’s often of someone older and stayed. They play golf. They watch sports. They aren’t seen as a person who would go on camera and play video games, but here we are.
The moment reminds me that politicians aren’t a caricature or a monolithic mold. Lawmaker are more of a mirror of their generation, and it was refreshing to see that members of Congress are gamers in addition to being husband, wives, doctors or lawyers.
It seems that every generation has a moment like that. I remember adults around me losing their minds when then-candidate Bill Clinton played the saxophone on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” As an adult, when I saw Barack Obama gesturing that he was brushing the dirt off his shoulders, that was another moment for fans of hip-hop. A presidential candidate was referencing Jay-z in the middle of a speech. It was a moment when pop culture and politics collided.
Ocasio-Cortez and Omar’s “Among Us” stream is in that same strata. It marks a moment when politicians realized that they can use video games to connect to a younger audience, one that’s emerging as a bigger part of the electorate. The Pew Research Center says Millennials are passing Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation. It’s a door that has been opened, and I’m sure other politicians will see the opportunity to connect with those voters and step through.
©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)