In my last post, I talked about trying to increase voter participation in non-presidential election years, along with a few other conditions, and decided that the best approach for this task would be to use elements of gamification rather than the creation of a game itself. Rather than focus on all the details of my solution, I’d prefer to simply post a link to a document that breaks down my idea (the link also contains a refresher of what the requirements and restrictions are for this project) and instead focus this post more on the elements of gamification present and why I think these ideas will work.
In the game brief, I mention that there are two parts to my plan: a state fair and an app for download. The app isn’t actually necessary, but it goes a long way towards maximizing the effect produced from the fair, so I would still highly recommend it. The fair is pretty much what you would expect from nearly any other state or county fair, but with an emphasis on getting information out and having conversations around politics. This is the first part of gamifying politics. It places something which is not normally considered fun next to a safe, fun, comfortable environment so each can benefit from the other. The fair allows anyone in and does not force action onto participants. It is up to the individuals what they plan to do. Because of the convenience of placing political events at a social event near to/on the day of an election it creates an easy opportunity and some degree of social pressure to participate. To compare this to a game, imagine a group of players dancing in The Tower on Destiny. No one forces you to join in, but there is a degree of pressure to do so thanks to our need to fit it with others. It’s also fun. It is in a safe place and you are free to experiment without consequence and the fair provides that same effect.
The other primary element of gamification being applied here is the idea of a reward structure and feedback loops (I feel these should be considered as part of a whole rather than separate pieces). Here, the app provides the greatest amount of value by letting people get what they want out of the process and rewarding direct participation. Scanning QR codes for points at political events or posting on social media encourages users to attend these events and spread the word online, if for no other reason than free stuff. Posting online, easily looking up laws, and finding the time for events is all about convenience and letting people use the fair however they please, while still getting something out of it. The app could also provide direct feedback from actions through messages, rewards, and informing them how their votes mattered and showing which laws they voted for got implemented. The importance in that is how it directly shows that your vote mattered over the course of the year, and not just during the election season. Not mention, with such easy access to this information and the ability to immediately post on social media, if an elected official isn’t fulfilling the needs of their constituency, it will become immediately known.
There are so many variables here that you can tweak and adjust here to maximize and customize these events for the area they are a part of. I bring this up because the elements I talk about above are reasons why I think my plan will work, but it doesn’t specify every aspect of the fair. Even my document is a simple breakdown of its elements and some of its potential features, but everything can be altered so long as one understands why it works. If anyone ever does read this and decides to implement it, feel free to experiment and test different methods. I’m sure that every situation will be unique and the fairs should be as well.