It featured minimal graphics, no sound effects, and deeply flawed gameplay. Yet one of the most important game titles of 2008 was played by thousands and helped change the face of American politics. I’m writing about My.BarackObama.com.
Game designer and scholar Ian Bogost considered it a washout election cycle for political games. McCain had his “Pork Invaders” arcade gimmick, and Obama bought ads in Xbox Live (largely an indulgence). But I would argue that 2008 represents a watershed moment for video games, a moment when the medium showed that it can, indeed, change the world. My.BarackObama.com (“MyBO”) didn’t just communicate ideas. It encouraged people to go and do something.