A new collaboration between , a nonprofit focused on empowering young voters, and the popular video game Minecraft introduces young Americans to the voting process in a virtual bid to engage first-time and future voters.
Announced eight days ahead of the presidential election, Build the Vote has created an online world featuring “voting houses” and a virtual election for interested users. Players cast their votes for important issues — gun laws, criminal justice reform, healthcare access, climate change, racial equality, the education system, immigration, job stability, student loans, and combating corruption — rather than real-life candidates. But the goal is the same: encourage community participation in important, political processes. Players go through the same steps they may take in real life, from registering to casting their ballot, and, in this case, ringing the virtual “voting bell.” They even have to be aware of voting deadlines (October 30), after which the votes are tallied and the “winners” are announced.
The feature is hosted on an official Build the Vote multiplayer server, accessible to users with PC, Mac, and Linux systems. All votes are anonymous, just like in real life. Users are encouraged to explore the rooms of the Voting House — designed to look like the White House — and interact with information about the American electoral process before casting their virtual “ballot.”
The experience was designed alongside creative agency Sid Lee to address a historic trend of low youth voter participation (a trend that some report will look different this year). “With millions of members of younger generations already playing Minecraft each month, we thought it would be the perfect platform for them to learn without it feeling like a chore. By ‘Minecraftizing’ the electoral process, we’re showing that video games and other platforms can become tools to serve bigger purposes, including our civic responsibilities,” said David Allard, Associate Creative Director at Sid Lee.
Carolyn DeWitt, Rock the Vote president and executive director, said that 30 years of youth voter engagement has shown that the demographic needs to be reached where they’re the most active. “Rock the Vote has been building the political power of young people by meeting them where they are through trusted messengers,” she said in a press release.
According to DeWitt, Build the Vote hopes to encourage confidence among young voters, in preparation for the day they cast their actual ballots. The experience also engages players under the voting age and helps them begin understanding the power of their vote. “We’re continuing this work for the next generation at a time when they are hearing about the election, but are not yet eligible to vote, so that when they do turn 18 and become eligible they are more prepared to participate in our democracy,” she said. In a promotional video released last week, the initiative noted that young voters are “the key to changing the landscape.”
To find out more about the initiative and learn how to access the official server, visit the Build the Vote website.