Real-world politics invade video games ahead of US election

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Fans of United States (US) President Donald Trump can insert his character in some video games, even protect him from assassination in notoriously lawless Grand Theft Auto.

Gamers with a different political tilt can visit Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden at his headquarters in Animal Crossing, and display his campaign posters in virtual yards there.

Real-life politics have invaded video games, echoing divisive themes raging in the streets and leaving some players lamenting that their cherished fantasy worlds are being violated.

As games increasingly move online, tech-savvy gamers are using software tools to plug in political themes, effectively delivering campaign messages to fellow players and those watching.

“We will see more and more use of video games to engage in the political world,” said International Game Developers Association Executive Director Renee Gittins.

“TV ads are just not a thing people see any more; you have to go where the audience is, and to a large extent that audience is in video games.”

Video games let politicians reach an increasingly diverse demographic including young audiences. A recent Statista survey found that 38 per cent of US video game players range in age from 18 to 34 years old.

US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became a star on Twitch recently, playing Among Us for an audience that topped 430,000 viewers in an effort to encourage voting, becoming one of the most widely viewed events on the platform.