Earlier last week, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden began campaigning in yet another place. This time, it was the online portal known as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In this popular life simulation game, Biden will take his campaign to an entirely new audience. Game players will now have the ability to put yard signs on their luxurious properties which will advocate for the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in the upcoming 2020 election.
This comes as a unique strategy for the candidate in an increasingly difficult time to actually campaign in person across the country with the safety precautions in effect because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It is part of a larger initiative from the Biden campaign to appeal to a wider audience through digital and online channels. The Biden campaign has focused on appealing to voters by live streaming both events and fundraisers while also adhering to policies that fulfill measures to socially distance from other individuals.
In the game, players are able to download four different sign designs that feature the 2020 logos featured by the campaign run by both Biden and the Vice Presidential nominee, Kamala Harris. One of the logos features Biden wearing what has become a trademark image for him, his aviator sunglasses. Nintendo Switch is working with the campaign to allow gameplayers the ability to access these logos through scanning a QR code via its own app.
Again, this is perhaps a true sign of the times, when a U.S. Presidential candidate looks to appeal to voters through a new avenue. Biden, of course, is known for his time as the Vice President under the Obama administration, one which formed a grass movement largely through online initiatives and rode it to the White House in 2008.
Biden and his campaign hope to capitalize on the fairly new trend of bringing the real world into the virtual one, as various musicians have done this with great success. Indeed, Travis Scott, a popular rapper from Texas used his network to perform a huge concert in Fortnite this past April. More than ten million people were in attendance for this performance. Other artists have also harnessed the power of games such as Minecraft to perform virtually to both current fans and curious gameplayers.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was initially released this past March and has been a popular title for Nintendo on its Switch platform. Biden and his strategists hope that appealing to this audience will lead to votes at the end of the day. One of Biden’s strategists explained in a recent statement, “Animal Crossing is a dynamic, diverse, and powerful platform that brings communities together from across the world. It is an exciting new opportunity for our campaign to engage and connect Biden-Harris supporters as they build and decorate their islands.”
The campaign also put forth further initiatives to get this new measure into the eyes of gameplayers across the country as multiple influencers across social media blasted out details on the unique concept.
The Biden campaign plans to continue to keep exposing new audiences to their digital initiatives as the election season runs its full course in the fall of 2020.
If the coronavirus pandemic was not a factor in the upcoming election, it would be far less likely for these kinds of initiatives to occur. However, the Biden campaign is hoping that this emphasis on technology will prove fruitful over the next few months.
On the other hand, many gameplayers may see the political maneuvering as an unwanted obstruction of their space that has previously been largely devoid of politics. Many have felt this way about the intrusion of political ideas into other sectors of everyday American life like music, Hollywood and sports.
Time will tell if the strategy is effective in generating actual votes, though it could prove to be an important lesson for political candidates in what is increasingly becoming a more digitally focused landscape. Do not be surprised if you run into more Biden – Harris support in new avenues or even perhaps the Democratic nominees opponent for the office, current President Donald J. Trump. There is no doubt that many lessons will be learned from all parties involved during this increasingly unique election cycle.