Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tuned in to play the hit game Among Us along with popular streamers and fellow politician Rep. Ilhan Omar. For most of the stream, there were over 300,000 concurrent viewers, peaking at 439,000.
Among Us is a social deduction game, basically the online version of the party game Mafia. The players are split between two games: the crewmates who have to complete tasks and kick the imposters out, and the imposters who have to kill the crewmates and avoid being exposed — excellently suited for a politician, one would argue. This simple game grew into an internet hit in 2020, becoming one of the most popular games on the online streaming site Twitch.
Although virtually unknown to some demographics, Twitch has reached cult status and is a major gathering place for the younger part of the population, who often feel disenfranchised and abandoned by the political class.
Ocasio-Cortez (who often goes by her initials AOC) streamed for over three hours, becoming the third most-watched individual Twitch stream in history.
Outside of repeated appeals to vote, the stream was light on politics. There were a couple of jabs and a discussion on the British health system and how it compares to the American one, but for the most part, the video game stream was, well, a video game stream.
Still, AOC was quick to use her political prowess, ruthlessly ‘killing’ fellow streamer Pokimane, one of the biggest streamers on Twitch. Pokimane’s reaction to being ousted from the game is delicious.
The idea of the stream was to get people out to vote, but it’s the first time a video game platform was leveraged in this way. It also helped that AOC was perceived as genuine by the Twitch community (she has a silver League of Legends account and has dropped in on Twitch chats before), but ultimately, this marks a new way in which the gaming streaming technology is used.
The fact that fellow Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar has already launched her own Twitch channel would seem to suggest that the approach is here to stay. Omar even posted her computer specs, a staple of gaming streaming.
There’s an innocent and wholesome part of this story. AOC and Omar seemed to genuinely enjoy playing the game and they were remarkably proficient at it (despite this being the first time they played). It’s refreshing to see that at least some politicians being in touch with an activity enjoyed by hundreds of millions — gaming. Seriously, they were pretty good at Among Us.
But on the other hand, if politicians are gracing Twitch with their presence, it shows the online gaming platform is starting to mature and is becoming a part of the political game. Gamers are no longer (only) kids. They’re voting now.