Only 40% of the eligible population votes in the typical US midterm election, and among young people turnout is even lower. In this experiment, we develop a game that encourages people to influence their friends to physically go to the polls. The system is reminiscent of Fifty Nifty, performed last year, where people competed to amass points by both calling representatives and spreading the message to others. In addition to awarding points, vote.lol motivates players by encouraging them to join teams and work together to influence the outcome of a shared narrative. In this Alternate Reality Game, participants play the role of secret agents or rogue hackers competing to control election technology. We tested vote.lol during the U.S. midterm election on November 6th, but were unable to generate significant player engagement during the time allowed. We look forward to studying the viral potential of Alternate Reality Games in future work.
This project was conducted with Sam Posner and Agnes Cameron for the Viral Political Action 2018 class at the MIT Media Lab and MIT Sloan School of Management. Mike worked on the back-end as well launching an ad campaign with GoogleAds. Visit vote.lol and vote.codes to view the websites we created. Final report available upon request.