On Tuesday, Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar went on Twitch to stream the incredibly popular game, Among Us.
According to BBC News, the stream managed to get up to 400,000 concurrent viewers, the third-highest stream to ever be hosted on the site. The VOD of the stream has already gotten over 4 million views and took life fairly organically, with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeting on Monday that she wanted to play the game in an effort to encourage voter participation.
The stream miraculously managed to avoid falling into the “how do you do, fellow kids?” feeling that plagues so many politicians’ attempts to reach the youth.
Exhibit A: Joe Biden’s battle rap ad.
She opened the stream with a call to action to get people to vote blue, saying, “Of course, we are here to vote Blue, that’s [why] I’m here, to let you all know.” While there were multiple reminders throughout the stream for viewers to vote early, overall it felt like watching a normal-ass stream of Among Us.
For those unaware, Among Us is a highly popular game among YouTubers, Twitch streamers, Millennials, and Gen Z alike. It’s a team-based game where a group of people must complete their tasks on the map, while also trying to avoid being killed by the imposter among you. Whenever a body is found the group must deduce who the killer is and vote them out. The game ends when either both imposters have been ejected from the game, or the imposters kill the entire crew.
AOC and Rep. Omar (D-MN) were joined by a group of various Twitch streamers and YouTubers, such as Pokimane, Gus Johnson, Hbomberguy, and Hasan the Hun, which helped add to the organic feeling.
Too often events like these feature a bunch of celebrities with no prior connection to gaming, and it always just feels cringe. As likeable as he is, no one gives a fuck what Trevor Noah thinks about Battlefield.
In contrast, the banter between the congresswomen and the streamers was delightful. Conversations about politics and healthcare organically came up while they were chatting throughout the game. One of the highlights was hearing AOC discussing healthcare with Hbomberguy and Pokimane, who are from the United Kingdom and Canada, respectively.
Also, just as a fan, it was delightful to see creators like Gus Johnson and Hbomberguy, people I’ve been watching for years, on stream together. In a year full of atrocities and heartbreak, I will gladly embrace this little piece of sunshine.
Will the stream change minds? Probably not.
Should more politicians try this? Definitely not.
As a voter outreach effort, though, you could do a lot worse. Young voters are typically hard to reach. So, if this manages to get even just a few more Gen Z and Millennial voters to consider making a trip to the ballot box, I think that would make this effort a success.