Let me tell you a story:
Back when I was a prisoner in a government-run public school, one of my social studies teachers said something profoundly stupid, so profoundly stupid that I remember it to this day. During a discussion on the importance of voting, he said:
It is important for every American to vote. Remember, it doesn't matter for whom you vote, just as long as you vote!
Now, even back then when I had little political knowledge or interest, that statement just sounded so...wrong to me. I mean, "it doesn't matter for whom you vote"? In other words, it's not the outcome that matters but the process? I remember scratching my head over that at the time, just knowing at some ineffable level that that was the type of statement that summed up everything that was wrong with the public school curriculum. Taking that to its logical conclusion, it means there is no qualitative difference between casting a vote for Adolf Hitler or George Washington. Really? Talk about runaway relativism!
Now, why do I bring this up? Well because of this bombastic press release from Microsoft:
Microsoft to Launch "Election 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE"
Aug 23, 2012
Alongside NBCNews.com, Rock the Vote, YouGov and Face the Facts USA, Xbox will deliver a first-of-its-kind way to interact with the election and make your voice heard.
REDMOND, Wash. - Aug. 23, 2012 - Microsoft Corp. today announced "Election 2012 on Xbox LIVE," a unique opportunity for Xbox 360 owners to watch and interact with live election coverage of the presidential debates, learn the facts about the candidates and issues from Face the Facts USA, register to vote through Rock the Vote, and participate in live daily polling from YouGov. NBCNews.com will deliver daily election programming to keep users up-to-date on the latest news and analysis about the election and the candidates. All these experiences will be featured on a brand new Election 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE. Members will be able to fully access the first wave of content, which will focus on convention-related news, beginning Monday, Aug. 27.
Through this innovative platform, U.S.-based Xbox LIVE* members - part of a large, diverse and actively engaged audience of more than 40 million members worldwide - will be able to interact in real time throughout the three scheduled presidential debates, as well as enjoy live feeds from the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Xbox LIVE members will also be able to voice their opinions by responding to poll questions throughout live programming of the debates and other unique election events hosted on Xbox LIVE throughout the campaign season.
"We want to provide our passionate Xbox LIVE community with a great way to experience the election process with TV that makes them participants - and not just viewers," said Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "This is a great example of how our Xbox capabilities are making the promise of interactive television a reality."
"As a leader in digital and broadcast news, NBC News is always looking for more places to deliver its high-quality multimedia content, particularly in this critical campaign year. This relationship with Xbox LIVE is a unique opportunity to expand our reach on a really innovative platform," said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NBC News.
Additional original programming will be featured through the Election Hub on Xbox LIVE with the "Conversations with the Next Generation" youth town halls in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 29 and Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 5. National Journal, The Atlantic and Microsoft are working together on these one-of-a-kind events at the Republican and Democratic national conventions to engage with younger Americans and students in a dialogue about issues facing their generation. The event moderators, including NBC's [silly lib] Chuck Todd and Chelsea Clinton, will lead keynote interviews, panel discussions and audience Q&A with unique perspectives on the youth vote, education and the future of America's economy. Participants such as George P. Bush; Kal Penn; Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill.; MTV's Andrew Jenks; Michelle Rhee; OUR TIME's Matthew Segal; and the national presidents of both the Young Democrats of America and the Young Republican National Federation will further explore ways in which people can empower youths to get involved in the political process and make their voices heard.
"Technology has been a transformative force in politics during recent years," said Fred Humphries, vice president of government affairs at Microsoft. "The launch of the Election 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE marks another exciting moment of change. This platform will innovate how some voters engage in the political process, and it provides greater access to valuable information such as the perspectives of youth at our town halls, newscasts and voter registrations. By bringing the elections directly into the home through this Xbox platform, we hope to encourage greater participation in the democratic process this fall."
As part of Election 2012 coverage, Xbox LIVE is joining with Face the Facts USA, a [hardly] nonpartisan, independently funded research initiative supported by The George Washington University and backed by "Americans who believe facts should come first in the national debate." Thanks to this initiative, Xbox LIVE members will have access to videos that will help them more accurately understand the major issues surrounding the election and the candidates involved. Frank Sesno, former CNN correspondent, anchor and Washington bureau chief and director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, will host this important video content.
Microsoft has also teamed up with Rock the Vote to encourage and facilitate voter registration. Rock the Vote will deliver information and programming directly into the Election 2012 Hub on Xbox LIVE, while also providing local voter information and the ability to register to vote through http://www.xbox.com/election2012. Rock the Vote will also make available exclusive musical content to be streamed directly to the Xbox LIVE community. Xbox and Rock the Vote previously worked together in 2008, successfully driving tens of thousands of citizens to register to vote and become active participants in the election process.
"We are thrilled to be working with Xbox again to deliver important election and voter registration content to millions of voters through this truly unique and impressive Xbox LIVE platform," said Chrissy Faessen, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Rock the Vote. "There's a growing audience of individuals getting their election information solely from online platforms; Microsoft has set itself apart by providing for its users a level of content and interactivity that's second to none."
Underlying this entire experience will be daily polling of the Xbox LIVE community aligned with relevant happenings on the campaign trail. Working with YouGov, the daily results will be weighed to reflect both the Xbox community and likely voters. Further, timely polling will provide quick feedback from the Xbox community during major campaign events this fall.
To understand more about the political attitudes, behaviors and issue priorities of Xbox LIVE members, Xbox commissioned StrategyOne to conduct a survey of 1,678 Xbox LIVE households. The survey, which was conducted June 19 to July 3, 2012, found that 40 percent are Xbox Swing Voters - those who are not firmly committed to a presidential candidate.
Xbox Swing Voters say the most important issues facing the country are unemployment and jobs (39 percent), healthcare (29 percent) and taxes (22 percent). Xbox Swing Voters say they follow politics and public policy matters in the news at least once per week, including 23 percent who follow these issues daily. Thirty-nine percent say they often watch information about the presidential election with other people in their household.
"A large, engaged but uncommitted audience, Xbox Swing Voters are a technically savvy and passionate voting bloc," said Douglas Rivers, YouGov's chief innovations officer. "We're proud to be working with Microsoft and its game-changing, interactive Xbox LIVE platform to provide meaningful insights that are shaping the current election landscape."
This disturbs me for multiple reasons.
First off, if you are the type of person who is so busy gaming that the only possible way you are going to get some political news is between bouts of Call of Duty, well, you shouldn't be voting in the first place. I mean, according to the press release itself, only 23% of XBOX gamers follow political issues and current events daily - 23% (for you government school kids, that's only 1 in 4)! Quite frankly, those 23% are the ONLY XBOX GAMERS who have any business going near a voting booth. They will [most likely] be well informed. The rest who think they can tune into politics during the last few weeks of the campaign via their console and still make an informed vote are sadly mistaken. As per the wisdom of my teacher from so many years ago, you will be accomplishing little more than blindly participating in a complex political process that has very real implications for the nation (hey, 18 - 24 year olds: how do you like your 17.1% unemployment rate? Still glad you voted for Obama?). National-level politics is a complex thing, involving numerous topics such as law, economics, political philosophy, history, international relations...and more (trust me, I spend six years studying this stuff)! There is no way a person can "catch-up" on four years worth of those myriad issues in just a few weeks! Learning to play Dark Souls without dying is easy by comparison.
Another thing that concerns me is the involvement of NBC. It is not a surprise that a leftist like Bill Gate would team up with America's version of Pravda (Media Research Center has over 808 pages of NBC/MSNBC political lunacy!) I mean, with Obama losing 20% of the youth vote he had in 2008 (so far), things are pretty grim for a campaign already in trouble (even CBS News has admitted this, albeit reluctantly). What we have here is a Hail Mary pass by some Obama supporters (at the behest of the prez himself, maybe?) to motivate the most easily manipulated voters of all - the idealistic young who feel obligated to participate in a process they don't really understand.
So, my fellow (young console) gamers, do us all a favor and DON'T VOTE! It's okay, truly. Don't let a manipulative politician who betrayed your trust manipulate you into voting for him again. What is more, just like I wouldn't want a doctor who only kinda, sorta, studied medicine between bouts of playing Gears of War to be my care giver, I wouldn't want a similarly ill-prepared individual to go to the voting booth in November and cast a vote for candidates and issues that he/she only dimly perceives. In other words, don't be a boob like my social studies teacher who was more interested in process instead of results. It's not fair to you...or me. Instead, do the smart thing and stay home. Don't worry, you have a whole lifetime to become truly interested in politics and cast an informed vote. There's no rush. In the mean time, just enjoy another round of Spec Ops: The Line. The nation will thank you!