Is There Really An Imposter Among Us? Congresswoman AOC Streams The Hugely Popular Game To Encourage Gen Z-ers to Vote.

Is There Really An Imposter Among Us? Congresswoman AOC Streams The Hugely Popular Game To Encourage Gen Z-ers to Vote.

Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, and Ilhan Omar joined popular Twitch streamers to play the game Among Us, showing that Politicians do not have to continue their reputation of being out of touch with youth voters.

On Oct 19, 2020, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted to her 10 million followers to see if anyone was interested in streaming the video game, Among Us, and to “get out the vote”. She added that she never played the game before, but “it look[ed] like a lot of fun”. She received over 40,000 responses with eager volunteers, and the next day, she was live on her brand-new Twitch account along with fellow Representative, Illhan Omar, and some of the biggest names on the streaming platform, including Pokimane, Myth, and Hasanabi. Needless to say, it was a hit; she had 435,000 concurrent viewers as she played her first match, making it one of the 10 biggest individual streams ever [TwitchTracker].

How did she gain these kinds of numbers? One big factor is the popularity of Among Us, which involves up to 10 people doing small tasks to fix a broken spaceship, all while up to 3 people are secretly the “imposters”. The imposters are tasked with sabotaging the game, and covertly killing off the innocent crewmembers. The goal is for the crew members to successfully identify and vote out who they believe are the Imposters, and for the Imposters to be the only players left alive. It parallels party games like Mafia or Werewolf, and with its simple gameplay, high-stakes, and interactive nature, Among Us was destined to be a hit in not just the online streaming community, but in the mainstream media as well.

Enter AOC herself. She already had an advantage, considering celebrities playing with Twitch streamers naturally draws in large viewership. For instance, rapper Drake played Fortnite alongside streamer, Ninja, in 2018, breaking the record for the most-viewed stream ever with 650,000 concurrent views [Polygon]. AOC is also popular among the Gen-Z youth with her progressive views, active social media presence, approachable demeanor, and willingness to brazenly criticize President Donald Trump and other polarizing political figures. 

The combination of a popular game and popular politician made for a successful stream, and a way for the congresswoman to stress the importance of voting to younger generations. AOC stressed the importance of voting for the Democratic party, stating at the start of her stream that “we are here to vote Blue, that’s [why] I’m here, to let you all know” [BBC]. She also directed viewers to the website, I Will Vote, in order to establish a voting plan [Vox]. 

Reactions were mostly positive, as fellow at Rothermere American Institute, Mitchell Robertson, said that the expressiveness of AOC was “…not simply that she is a forceful and articulate proponent of the Democratic message, it is that she is able to speak credibly directly to millennials using platforms like Twitch” [BBC]. 

Some were more critical, however, with professor of politics at the University of Liverpool, Jon Tonge, stating that “It’s too early to say whether it has any impact on voters, but I would be sceptical. First, the age profile of those watching is likely to be young. They are less likely to vote. Second, political opponents are probably less likely to participate. Third, it’s not changing people’s minds on anything” [BBC].

AOC’s stream was as entertaining as any other, as she had the role of the Imposter in the first game, nearly giving herself away and fretting at killing the streamer Pokimane: “I can’t kill Poki, she’s so nice” [GameSpot]. It lasted for nearly four hours, with yelling, laughing, betrayals, and discussing important issues such as the difference between the healthcare system in the UK and the US with British players. 

No matter your personal political views or what you thought of the Congresswoman using the game to connect with the younger voting population, seeing political figures be more in touch with current trends and not the transactional, opportunistic politicians they can oftentimes come across as is smart and effective. It piques the interest of Gen Z-ers who may not have a big interest in politics, and encourages them to practice their civic duty of voting. Most importantly, it shows that politicians can be for the people, and that they are fellow citizens among us.